Welcome to Beginning Fly Tying

Part Thirteen




An Introduction to Fly Tying:

Woolly Bugger and Montana Nymph

By Al Campbell


We've worked with hackle, we've worked with chenille, let's take it another step. Each step we take adds to our skills and expands our knowledge of fly tying. The Woolly Bugger and Montana Nymph will continue that trend.

The woolly bugger is often used as a streamer, but tied in the right sizes and colors, it makes a great crayfish, dragonfly nymph, egg cluster, salmon flesh or leech imitation. It's the one fly that has probably hooked more big fish and more species of fish than any other. Because it looks so edible to the fish, it consistently fools trout, bass, salmon, pike and walleyes, not to mention a host of panfish and saltwater species. You'll want to have a variety of these fish catching morsels in your fly box at all times. Add black, gold and copper beads to the head for a swimming action the fish can't resist.


List of materials:

  • Hook: Streamer 2xlong; Eagle Claw L058, Tiemco 5263, Mustad 9672, Daiichi 1720.

  • Tail: Marabou - Black, olive, brown or any other color desired.

  • Body: Chenille, any color you wish, but black, orange, brown and olive are most common.

  • Hackle: Saddle or neck, saddle is preferred. Color to match the body if desired.

  • Thread: 3/0, color to match body or black.

  • Rib: Wire (gold, silver or copper).

    Tying steps:

  • 1. Tie a small bunch of marabou to the hook, length approximately the same as the hook shank.


  • 2. Tie in a ribbing wire.


  • 3. Tie in and wrap a chenille body as in a woolly worm.


  • 4. Tie a hackle feather to the front of the fly, curvature facing back.


  • 5. Wrap the hackle evenly to the bend of the hook. Be sure to keep the curvature of the barbules toward the back of the hook.


  • 6. Keeping the hackle feather tight, wrap the ribbing wire forward over the hackle, securing it to the hook.


  • 7. Tie off the wire, trim, form a head.


  • 8. Trim the hackle tip at the bend of the hook.


  • 9. Whip finish and cement the head.


  • The Montana Nymph is a stonefly nymph imitation. It's easy to tie, and very productive in waters that have a good stonefly population. Surprisingly, it's also very productive in lakes and streams that don't have a good stonefly population. If you substitute brown hackle, dark olive chenille for the body and light olive chenille for the thorax, you have a great dragonfly nymph imitation.

    The tails of the Montana nymph are hackle tips from short spade hackles found on the sides of necks. These hackles are also used to supply fibers for dry fly tails.

    The hackle wrapped around the thorax is usually neck hackle from a lesser quality, soft hackle neck. Soft hackle "breathes" better than stiff hackle providing a nice action similar to the movement of the legs on a real nymph. Since that's what this hackle is supposed to imitate, it makes sense to use soft hackle.


    Materials List:

  • Hook: Nymph; Eagle Claw L063, Mustad 9671, Tiemco 5262, Daiichi 1710.

  • Tail: Two black, brown or olive hackle tips, usually from spade hackles.

  • Body: Black, brown or olive chenille.

  • Wing case: Chenille, an extension of the body chenille.

  • Thorax: Yellow, orange or olive chenille.

  • Hackle: Black, brown or olive neck hackle. Soft hackle is preferred.

  • Thread: 6/0 or 3/0, color to match body or black.

    Tying steps:

  • 1. Select two spade hackles for a tail and prepare them by stripping most of the webbing and fluff from the stem, leaving them about the length of the hook shank.


  • 2. Arrange the hackle tips back to back, curvature away from each other and tips even with each other.

  • 3. Tie the tails to the hook, being careful to keep them on the sides of the hook and the curvature facing away from each other. The tails should be about 1/2 as long as the hook shank.


  • 4. Wrap a chenille body just a hair longer than half the hook shank. Tie the chenille off on top of the hook, but don't trim.


  • 5. Fold the body chenille back over the body and tie in a prepared soft neck hackle, curvature down, tight against the body.


  • 6. Tie in the chenille for the thorax tight against the body.


  • 7. Wrap the thorax chenille forward, tie off behind the hook eye and trim.


  • 8. Wrap the hackle forward, keeping the curvature of the barbules facing back.


  • 9. Grasp the body chenille you left hanging over the body and pull it over the top of the thorax to form a wing case. Tie the wing case off and trim.


  • 10. Whip finish and cement.

  • Notice how using a neck hackle forms legs that are shorter in front than in back? This is a common characteristic of most real nymphs too. Take a good look at the proportions of this and other nymphs and try to keep those proportions in you own flies. Practice will help you become consistent.

    Adding a bead head to any nymph will help it find the bottom areas of a stream or lake faster. It also adds a little flash that often triggers a strike. You can also place a bead in the thorax area for a different effect if you wish.


    See ya next week. ~ Al Campbell

    Beginning Fly Tying Archives



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