Why We Love Fly Fishing with Wooly Buggers and You Do Too

It’s hard to imagine writing a love letter to a wooly bugger. Still, if we were going to single out a pattern we know we can always depend on fly fishing in Alaska, it would be this workhorse streamer. Everyone has a favorite in the fly box, so we’re all on the same page here.

Instead of penning a mash note to a size 04 or even 10 with a chenille body and marabou tail, we came up with a better idea. Why not celebrate one of the sport’s most recognizable classics right here? What better way to lay out our love for wooly buggers than a list?

Loving Wooly Buggers: Five Ways They Make It Easy

We’ve itemized our points hoping to serving up a combination of enlightenment and entertainment. Whether you already know all there is to know about everybody’s favorite streamer or you’re just now tuning in, these are the five reasons we love wooly buggers.

1. They Imitate Just About Anything

If wooly buggers could fill out job applications, you’d be amazed at their flexibility. These streamers stand in for leeches, sculpin and minnows. Their versatility covers damsel flies, stone flies and dobson flies. Name a subsurface food source with fins or wings that fish always hit. There’s a wooly bugger pattern that fits it and consistently produces action.

2. They Catch Just About Everything

If you’re trying to outsmart spooky rainbows, go with the wooly bugger. If you’re chasing sockeye, this streamer works. Whether you’re after char, grayling or dolly varden, you’re stalking fish with an offer they don’t refuse very often. We’ve always heard this is the one fly that catches everything. It probably owes that reputation to its basic design over pattern, but that’s a debate we can have by the lodge fireplace sometime soon.

3. You Can Fish Them Anywhere

Wooly buggers catch fish anywhere. As long as you have a good selection in the fly box, you can head for the riverbanks, plan a day on the lake or relax by a favorite pond. You can hit all three spots in one day and never worry about being prepared. Are you taken with the idea of fishing in a locale a little more exotic than our Alaskan wilderness? We’ve been told that wooly buggers produce in salt flats.

4. Water Conditions Don’t Matter

This isn’t a fly that needs special handling. It’s a solid performer that gives you its best under conditions that other flies just can’t handle. It’s a real pleasure to fish with a fly that knows how to work through riffles, tailouts and seams. You have to love a streamer that attracts attention and hits in murky water. If we ever get a chance to go surf fishing, we’re taking our wooly buggers with us.

5. You Can’t Fish Them Wrong

There’s usually a little trial and error involved in settling on color and size, but that’s about it. Read the water, and start fishing. Try suspending your streamer with split shot and an indicator. Go for a dead drift downstream. Strip back at different speeds, and trigger explosive strikes that make a day on the water unforgettable. It all adds up to another reason why we love wooly buggers. They’re always forgiving, and that always makes us better fly fishermen.

Following Our Own Advice

As much as we love them, it’s easy to take them for granted. Can you imagine your fly box without these reliable streamers? Can you count how many fish would get away? We’re going to follow our own advice and hope you do too: Don’t leave home without a handful of wooly buggers in the box.

If you’d like for us to spotlight one of your favorite patterns or showcase a must-have tool, just let us know by posting a reply. Who knows? You might save us from writing that love letter. Better yet, come on up, and join us here at Slab Creek for some Alaskan fly fishing. We promise we’ll put down the pen and paper.