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  • Writer's pictureBrian Lansing

fly tying how to - jigged buggers

Last week, I said I'd be posting a fly tying"how to" on how I have been tying my jigged buggers. I could bore you with the details of my week in review and on the water, which consisted of steelhead fishing, banged and bloody shins, more trout, a day hike with my Wife, another broken rod, snagging other anglers' old 20lb. lines full of 14lbs of split shot (which is a totally illegal set up for where I was fly fishing), and becoming irate when this line and split shot is the reason I have another broken rod, but I will not. This is about how to tie the jigged buggers I've been tying and using with good results.

Before we get started, this is a tie which can be done 15,432 different ways. It can be done in any color and any size. This is just what I've been using and tying lately and it has worked well for trout, steelhead, and trees. This how-to is done on a size #10 barbless jig hook with a 4mm bead. This tie is done in black. I'll also have pictures at the end of other colors I use and actually prefer. I'm also going to list two tying options. Option one uses a hackle collar, while option two uses a dubbing collar. I've been using and liking the dubbing collar more of late. I tend to get a little lazy as well and using a dubbing collar is one less item I need to have out. The same can be said for the crystal flash in the tail. I could take it or leave it. The tying steps are the same until the end when making the collar.

Materials List:

fly tying bugger materials
bugger materials

- coffee (looks like I need more)

- #10 barbless jig hook

- 5/32" tungsten slotted gold bead

- .020 lead free round wire

- black 8/0 uni-thread

- black marabou for the tail

- black crystal flash for the tail (not neccesary or can sub for another color)

- black ice dubbing for the the body

- gold thin wire for ribbing

- black hackle for collar

Step 1:

Slide the tungsten bead onto the hook so the slot is facing the rear of the fly and seat it as far forward as it will go. You may need to spin the bead a bit in order to get it lined up to go around the jig bend in the hook. Starting at the mid point of the fly, wrap your lead free wire forward and tightly toward the head. Cut it off and push the ends of the wire down so they are not in the way when you start tying on other materials and so the ends don't cut your thread. Push the wire as far forward as it will go against the bead.

tungsten bead and wire wrap
lead free wire

Step 2:

thread tied on and wrapped to the back of the fly

Get your thread tied on, wrapping over itself to lock it in, and make several passes up and down the fly to lock the wire and bead in place. This gives you a nice working base. Bring the thread to the rear of the fly so you're ready to tie in your tail in the next step.

Step 3:

marabou tail tied in securely

Tie in the marabou tail. Make a few tight wraps to lock in the marabou and then wrap forward to the wire wrap to really lock it in before cutting off the excess. I like to tie the tail in so it's about as long or slightly shorter than the length of the hook. This leaves plenty of material to give the bug and tail life in the water.

Step 4 (optional):

Tie in 2 strands of your crystal flash. I cut the strands so they are the length of the fly. Tie in the strands so the ends are even with the end of the tail and so one strand is on each side of the fly. Once you have a few wraps securely holding them in place, fold the two ends that are at the head of the fly over to rear of the fly so you now have four strands of flash in the tail. When you fold the strands over, space them out the same as you did previously so the strands are on either side of the tail. The crystal flash is an optional step. It's generally 50/50 on whether or not I tie in the flash. It is certainly not needed, but... it sparkles.

black crystal flash, about the length of the fly. This is not a necessary step, but does provide a subtle flash to the tail of the fly.
flash tied in so the back ends of the strands are about even with the tail
4 stands of flash in the tail evenly spaced, ready for the next step

Step 5:

After the crystal flash is in place, the tail is completed and we can move on with the body. Wrap the thread forward to the head of the fly so we can tie in the gold wire ribbing. Cut a piece of ribbing long enough to cover the length of the fly and then be wrapped 6-7 times back toward to the head of the fly. I generally use a piece 3-4 inches long. Place your wire ribbing so one end is tucked into the bead slot and then make a few wraps with your thread to lock the ribbing in. Hold the ribbing straight toward the tail and continue to wrap the thread all the way back to the base of the tail of the fly. The ribbing is tied in and you can move to the body. Leave the ribbing sticking out the back. You wont need this until your body is done.

ribbing tied in
thread wrapped to the back, ready to start the next step

Step 6:

This step is adding your body. For this, I'm using black UV ice dubbing. It does not require much dubbing to make the body. Dubbing goes a long ways. Starting with your thread down 2-3 inches, grab a pinch of dubbing and add it to the thread. Do this by holding the dubbing on the thread, pinching it with your fingers and spinning the dubbing on the thread ONE WAY. If you spin the dubbing back and forth, you'll end up with a wadded dubbing ball not attached to the thread. I do not use dubbing wax. The oils on your fingers should be enough or you can wet your fingers a bit before spinning your dubbing on. Once the dubbing is on your thread, begin wrapping it forward and evenly to the head of the fly, making sure you have full coverage. If you run short, simply add a pinch more dubbing and continue wrapping to the head.

A pinch of dubbing is all you need.
Wrap the dubbing forward toward the head. If you run out, as I did here, add a pinch more to complete the body.

Step 7:

When you have the dubbing and thread wrapped to the head of the fly, pull your thread down a couple inches to be ready to tie off the ribbing next. Our next step is wrapping the gold wire ribbing forward to the head of the fly. In this step, it is important to wrap your wire forward in the opposite direction you wrapped your dubbing and thread. So if you wrapped clockwise, be sure to wrap the wire counterclockwise. This will allow the wire to be seen a little as well as cage in the body dubbing so the fly does not come apart. If you wrap the wire in the same direction as the dubbing, the wire will settle between dubbing wraps and it won't be seen. It won't cage the dubbing in either and may allow the fly to fall apart. Make 6-7 evenly spaced wraps with your ribbing to the head of the fly and make 3-4 tight wraps with your thread to tie off the ribbing. Snip the excess.

Be sure to wrap your wire in the opposite direction.
The ribbing wire wraps are completed.

Step 8:

The fly is nearly done. At this point, I finish with either black hackle at the head, or more dubbing, but pulled back similar to hackle. I'll cover both options and you can choose which you prefer.

Hackle Option

The hackle is tied in and ready to wrap.

Grab a your piece of hackle and run your fingers over the hackle a few times, against the grain, from tip to tail to straighten out those fibers a bit. I then hold the tip of the hackle down on the fly, just enough to tie in the hackle. Once your hackle strand is tied in, make 3-4 wraps, always pulling the hackle toward the rear of the fly. Tie it off and trim the excess.

The fly is completed.

Once you have the hackle tied off and trimmed, use your fingers, without hooking yourself, to pull ALL of the hackle fibers toward the back of the fly. Make a few wraps to hold them in place as shown in here in the picture. The fly is done! Whip finish a few times, snip your thread, and use your favorite cement on the head to hold everything together.

Dubbing Option:

Using the dubbing option requires one less item to tie the fly. It's a bit simpler and I've been tying more of my buggers like this lately, though it's still about 50/50.

Once you've completed your ribbing wire wraps and tied it off, grab a small pinch of dubbing and tie it in at the mid point of the dubbing as shown. Make two wraps to hold it in place.

Take the front half of the dubbing, which is sticking out over the head of the fly, and fold that over your thread and over the back half of the dubbing. Fold it and pull it back evenly so it covers the full 180 degree top half of the fly. Make a couple wraps at this point to hold it in place.

Rotate your vise and do the same thing on the underside of the fly. Be sure to cover the full 180 degree bottom half of the fly.

Dubbing is folded toward the rear of the fly. Make a few wraps to secure and position things where you want it to be. Turn the vise back over, whip finish, trim your thread and use your favorite cement. The fly is completed.

Here is your completed bugger in the dubbing option. I like to trim my dubbing hackle a bit so I don't have stray fibers all over the place. I like to clean it up to give a nice, even profile.

Here is a comparison of the finished buggers (hackle option on top, dubbing on bottom).

Here are two finished bugger patterns.

You can be creative with color options. There is no right or wrong when creating flies. It's trial and error and it's only wrong if your fly doesn't catch fish. If you read my previous post,, you've read different colors work better in different places and different water conditions. It's a good idea to have options. Here are a few of my favorites:


These buggers are great. They can be dead drifted, stripped, swung, and jigged upstream or downstream. I've used them #flyfishing for steelhead, big brown trout, 4" native brook trout, smallmouth bass, and panfish.

I hope you enjoyed this post and step by step process on how I tie my jigged buggers. As I mentioned in previous posts, I tie them anywhere from size #8-#14 and in variety of colors. I hope you find this pattern simple and successful.

As always, thank you very much for visiting my site and blog. I hope you find this "how to" helpful. Please be sure to hit the like button, feel free to share, and feel free to follow along with my blog and on Instagram or Facebook.

Thanks again and stay safe!

Brian Lansing


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