The Zug Bug was invented by Cliff Zug as a caddis fly imitation, it can be deadly. While it works very well for that purpose it also works well in any number of fishy situations as a prospector, dropper, and even as a wet fly on the swing. I have enjoyed countless fish on the old zug bug. Hands down its easily one of the top 10 nymph fly patterns of all time. I put it #3 next to the pheasant tail #1 and the hares ear #2.
The zug is an old pattern dating back to the 30s. Its still just as effective today as it was back when the fly was developed. Many people have forgotten about this gem of a pattern, but not me. I will never be without zug bugs.
The original pattern calls for peacock swords for the tail, A body of peacock hurl, a silver tinsel rib, brown hen hackle, and a wood duck flank feather for the wing case. No doubt that the original pattern is extremely effective. I have fished this recipe for many years and so have many others with great success.
If you don't have zug bugs in your vest or box, then get tying or buying. Your missing a guaranteed fish catcher. Tie some up and next time you go out, go zuggin'
Now that the history and selling of the zug is over. I will tell about my improved zug bug. The improved zug bug looks almost identical to the original, except it is sparser, more durable, and has better action. Here is the recipe and a tutorial.
THE IMPROVED ZUG BUG
Hook- My favorite zug hook is the mustad 3906/S80. I have been using this hook for years with no complaints to date.
Thread-Black 8/0, but fire orange, purple, and yellow add to the attraction of the pattern, other colors such as brown, and olive, can be used for more natural looks.
Tail- Peacock swords, they bunch up under water and give the fly a great taper.
Body- 2 peacock hurl taken from close to the center of peacock eye. You want the shorts hurl fibers. 2 hurls for size #14 & #16, 3 hurls for 10s and 12s. 1 hurl for 18s on down.
Rib- Fine Holographic silver tinsel and fine or xsmall silver wire.
Wing case- Natural mallard.
Hackle- Died brown Hungarian partridge very sparse and clipped on top.
start near the eye and wrap back to the barb.
Tie in about 3-4 peacock swords, let the tips extend past the bend by about 2/3 the shank length. tie down to the front stop and trim excess at about 2 hooks eye from the eye.
Tie in your silver holographic tinsel. Tie it down wrapping back to the barb. Bring thread forward.
Tie in your wire, wrapping back to the barb. Leave thread here.
Tie in your peacock hurl by the tips. Tie in the tips while wrapping to the eye. Bring thread back to the two hook eyes point.
counter wrap your peacock(wrap it the opposite way you wrap your thread), do not over lap. wrap your peacock til you reach your thread. Tie down and trim your excess.
Now bring your silver holographic tinsel up through. Wrap the same way you wrap your thread. Nice open spaced turns. Tie it down and trim the excess.
Now rib the wire, Wrap it exactly on top of the tinsel. You can do this just by wrapping the same way. Tie it down and bend and break off the wire
Now select a brown partridge hackle from the shoulder of the bird. Strip off the fluff at the bottom of the bottom of the feather. Hold just the tip of the feather, and stroke the remaining fibers back. Tie the feather in by the tip.
Take one complete turn of hackle, as you turn push the hackles back. tie it down and trim the excess. Now push the side hackle down and trim off the top hackles.
Select a nice mallard flank feather. Strip off the fluff and run your finger nail up the convex side of the feather. This will make tying it in a lot easier.
Tie in your feather. You want the thread to lay right against stem where the mallard flank fibers and stem meet. Wrap forward tying it down. stop two turns from the eye. Trim the excess. And wrap back to the tie in point of the feather.
Whip finish. Be sure on the last two steps your and the entire fly and what ever fly you tie that your wrapping tightly. You dont want that mallard feather coming out.
trim your feather. Keep your scissor square across the back and snip. Snip the feather at about the middle of the shank. Take some sallys and coat the head and run a small bit up the quill of the mallard feather. This will make the feather near indestructible.
Top view of the completed fly.
Your completed improved zug bug.
Partridge does not clump together when wet like hen does.
It does when out of the water, but that doesnt matter.
A wood duck flank feather.
The zug bug.
This brown liked the improved zug bug.