The World's Largest Wooly Bugger

( Sorry This is a Longer But GOOD Tale)

by Mike Hogue


Last summer I was in the Little Store in Roscoe, NY. The Little Store for those that have never been there before this is an old time hardware store, variety store and tackle shop. They sell camping supplies, lures, flies, rods, spinning tackle and in my book it defines the words, hometown and locally owned. About every time I go to Roscoe, I stop in the Little Store, I am never quite sure what I will find but usually it is something I never realized I needed.

On one of my latest ventures to the store, I looked up and saw the hand grenade fly. This is kind of a bizarre looking fly which has a real hook, a genuine hand granada and it is tied as a fly which about a foot long. I'll bet I must have starred at that fly for some time trying to figure out how it was made.

Okay hand grenade, fly , you know can't catch anything so you pull the pin and drop it in. Bad joke. Just the same, it somehow struck me as funny. I asked the owners about the fly and its maker and I was told, " Well, we've had that thing for ages, must be more than 20 years old and it was made by Ralph Graves." Ralph Graves! I knew it!

For those not acquainted with Ralph, you are missing a treat. Ralph is a one of a kind, genuine, original. I doubt if I have ever meet anyone quite like Ralph, he is a wonderful , warm person with a unique personality. He is also a very talented fly tier, that is very creative. Ralph owns a small fly shop called the " Old Glory Fly Shop that is named after a streamer fly Ralph made which looked like the American Flag. The Old Glory Shop is in a small apartment building near the Rockland House, outside of Roscoe.

Ralph's shop is well a lot like Ralph. He has no phone because someone like his wife might call and disturb him while he is tying. He also describes the place as quiet so he can think, watch a ball game or make some flies. He actually is trying to go out business and really doesn't want any customers, so it is not exactly the Mall or any of the Marts.

I stopped in to see Ralph and his store was full of visitors, of course no one was actually buying anything and while I did find some stuff I wanted, he wouldn't sell it to me because it was something he actually needed. I asked Ralph about the hand grenade fly. I got a somewhat long answer which ended with, " If you get me a real hand grenade, I will see about making one for you."

A bit frustrated, I kept that in the back of my head and remembered that I needed to get Ralph a dummy hand grenade for the fly. Some time passed and I began looking for Ralph's Grenade. I called my brother and my Mom thinking since my brother was a military school graduate, I thought we had one of these things as a lighter. No luck there, so I did some internet shopping and found one.

A bit later it dawned on me that Ralph's hook was just what I needed to make a special gift for an angler we were going to do a program for, Leon Chandler. Leon is a local member of our Trout Unlimited chapter and our club decided to rename our chapter the Leon Chandler Chapter to honor Leon and his accomplishments.

I will back up some more here........ Back in January ( 2003) , I had the chance to have dinner with Leon during a fly fishing show in Danbury, CT. Leon was a speaker at show and as luck would have it, both of us were more or less stranded due to a blizzard. Leon and I had a very enjoyable time and he told me that one of his favorite flies was the black woolly bugger. He loved this fly and although he caught lots of nice fish on it , he always wished that just maybe he could have just a little bit bigger.

Well that was like a light going off in my head..... Bingo. The perfect gift for one of our greatest fly fishers, the World's Largest Wooly Bugger.

Getting the hook made was no easy task. I called Ralph and started talking about the grenade fly and the hook. I spent several nights on the phone with Ralph, trying to get him to help me by making the hook. I told him about the Leon party and my plans and finally he agreed. Ralph called me back and said , "I am shipping your hook, it's done, this is the last hook like this I can do. "

A few days later, the hook arrived. The hook is what, Ralph described as, " A size 30/ 0 3XL hook, model perfect with a down eye." Ralph even attached a large Christmas ball, painted gold for the gold head. I was on the floor laughing when I opened the box. "Perfect, YES! This is going to be cool! " , I said to myself.

I started the process of making the wooly. First I had to locate the materials. I used a black arctic fox tail for the tail, ostrich for the hackle, Aunt Lydia's Sparkle Yarn for the body. For a rib I used Danville medium gold crystal chenille .

I began by getting out a bench vise. This is not your typical fly tying vise. It is quite literally a bench vise from my workshop/garage. It has these giant jaws which would hold only about a size 11/0 hook and up. There is no rotating head or cam lock, about the only thing adjustable here is the tension. Snug or loose. Not exactly the raw hook bending power of a Dyna King but you can beat on this vise and not feel the least bit guilty about scratching the paint off.

I began by inserting the hook in some bubble wrap and cinched it down. Next I cut the fox tail in half and stripped off about 2" of fur off to expose the leather. I took some old nymo thread I had and stuck it in an S+ M ( since this was the biggest bobbin I had) bobbin and started wrapping. I got the tail tied off and discovered I had a giant gap in the body to fill in, so I cut some computer wrapping foam into a triangle and rolled a Big Bob Marley around the shank and I tied it off. I felt like I was at a Clinton College Reunion party wrapping this. Next the yarn was tied in, followed by the tinsel. I made about 4 wraps for a tag end and then tied in the ostrich which was split down the stem.

I started wrapping the yarn and wrapped about a 1/ 3 of the shank, followed by the tinsel and then the ostrich. I was able to get about 3 turns out of the ostrich before I had to stop and tie in some more. Finally I got done wrapping and I tied it off. Next I thought long and hard about the mount and display. It had to be something which was about interesting as the fly itself.

I selected about 3 foot of left over barn wood that came off my barn. This has stuff sat outside for about 1 1/2 years so it has well a lot of character. I made a raised , notched bed screwed together with some deck screws. I took some cable ties and attached to the fly to the rest. I attached some gold Jack chain to some screw eye to hang it with. To complete the effect, I took a "marks a lot " giant fat marker and signed my name on the back and attached a card. The caption said," To Leon Chandler" from Mike Hogue. It was just about the nastiest looking bugger around. I was laughing so hard I had to sit down and catch my breath.

I was a bit nervous at the presentation. I started thinking this might be one of the dumber things I had done and well it might not go so good. Our MC for the evening was Jim Krul. Jim did a wonderful job MCing and running the program. Jim arranged to have a series of folks come forward and talk about how Leon had changed the world of fly fishing and what Leon meant to them. Finally it was my turn. Okay. At last a chance to have all those butterflies doing a suicide bombing in my stomach to settle down.

I went through a quick story of the history, of Leon, Ralph and then I got to the end. I more or less concluded with," I wasn't quite sure what to give to one of the world's greatest fly fishermen, so I made the world's largest wooly bugger. " I held it up and the reaction was immediate, everyone laughed and Leon beamed from ear to ear. I also gave Leon about 6-8 dozen flies which I collected as a cover charge since he doesn't tie. All in all it was a memorable night and an unforgettable experience. Thanks to Ralph Graves for a nice job on the hook, Jim Krul (plus all of Leon's Pals that stopped by. ) Special thanks to all the members of the new Leon Chandler Chapter of Trout Unlimited for the great program.

For more info on the Fall Creek TU Name change, check out the this link from the Syracuse Newspaper:


Just back from the International Fly Tyer's Symposium. I had a great time seeing everyone. I sold some stuff, got to eat at the Somerset Dinner and had a few of the famous Double Tree cookies. My brain still hurts from drinking beer with Dave Brandt and talking with all of the folks attending. I meet several new friends and managed to order a fly from Paul Whillock. Paul Whillock's flies were seized last year by customs are some of the best I have ever seen. His mayfly takes about 90 hours to make.

I also talked to Harrison Steeves about his new book and nabbed some flies too. If this show is any indication of the fun coming, we are going to have a good winter show season this year with lots of cool things.


Sale Items:

The "Anything for a Buck" sale was such a huge hit, I am going to continue it again except now I am adding more stuff. To qualify you must buy 10 of anything listed below.

Here goes. Anything for a Buck:

Zonker Strips. Yeap stripped bunny. Standard width. Use for making the zonker of course, also good for the Sanchez Double Bunny ( which see below for the beads), The LOTS o Dave Whitlock stuff and loads of other tasty trout treats. White, Olive, Grizzly, Black, Gold, Orange, Chartreuse, Purple. About 4 linear feet. ALL $1 each.

Danville Medium Chenille. I have a boat load of chenille. Time to restock. About 3 yard cards ( some more , some less ). Choose from pearl, olive w/gold tinsel, black w/silver tinsel, black/olive mixed, brown/gold/tan mixed, olive/ sparkle green/ tan mixed, red/red sparkle/brown mixed, ginger and copper mixed, gold crystal, silver crystal, hot orange/black mixed, yellow/black mixed, silver/black mixed, purple/ pearl mixed, blue crystal/black mixed. ALL $1 each.

Marabou: Ton of mini marabou. Good for buggers ect. wooduck, red, orange, chartreuse, some black, olive and white. One bag, one $1

Dubbing Patches: Nice fur, use for dries and as a mix with other stuff. Choose from Beaver, fitch, beaver dyed brown , beaver dyed black, Australian opossum, otter. All $1 each.

Mylar tinsel is a nice item for streamer bodies. Tie on and fray out. Use for zonkers. Colors: Silver, Pearl, Gold in sizes: S-M-L. All $1 each.

Flexatop Boxes: Really Nice hook boxes. I must have had my head a bit loose when I ordered these. I have a ton of these! Originally Doug Swisher popularized these. Get rid of all those nasty Mustad bubble boxes or what do you do with the Targus/TMC/Daiichi hooks after you open the pack? Answer: use these boxes! Very cool. Snap lids. Lines up all in a row. Get 6 standard boxes for $1 ( fits size 30 up to about size 6 hooks ) or 3 streamer boxes for $1!



Christmas Shopping: Sick of the mall ? Tired of getting one more tie? Enough I say! Get the stuff you want! I can help you and yours be your fly fishing and fly tying Santa's helper. I can help you pick out lots O nice stuff, at prices that won't test the limits of your American Express Card.

Here are some ideas:

Bunch O Flies. Who says $10 doesn't buy much? I sell a nice set of flies of one dozen for $10. Great gift for a fishing friend. Lay down a Ben Franklin plus 4 George Washingtons and I send the stuff.

How about a Gift Certificate? Looking for a way to help a friend get that new vice ( or a rod?) I can write a gift certificate out in any amount. I will send it in a personalized card with a letter any place you like.

My choice of the best stuff this year:

Clear Rotating Spool Caddy: You've seen these in the magazines. Clear round drum, mounted to base feet with a small milled slot in the top. Handle spins drum to select various rows. Clear case allows you to see each spool of thread, floss,tinsel or wire. Enclosed body keeps dust out. Holds 40 spools of thread on 10 different rotating levels. Very nice: $55

The New Griffin Montana Mongoose Vise is sure to be this year's newest hit! American made. True Rotary vise in which the whole head rotates to give you more room near the rear of the fly to work with. Comes with Pedestal, c-clamp, carry case, bobbin rest, bobbin and hackle gauge. $175

Extremely Nice: This was very hot at the Tyer's show!!!!!!! Solid wood box. 3 drawer oak tool chest. Solid brass ( silver colored ) handles and knobs. Has burgundy velvet inside, with divided drawers. Similar values for an antique box or a Gerstner box are over $600!!!!!!!! This is a really nice box, ideal for travel or on the desk. $13

Bobbin Wheel: If you are like me, your desk looks like a chicken exploded and this will help organize your desk. Hang a Bunch O Bobbins on this, spin and select the tool of your choice. Works with thread, floss or wire. Use with most any sort of bobbin from Rite Bobbins to Griffins or Imports.

Price: $22.00


Terra Dubbing Tools: This is a complete set of dubbing tools. Has lots of interesting tools to use. Contains: Dubbing Rake, Dubbing Loop Tool, Dubbing Brush and Dubbing Spinner. Comes with Leather Travel Case. Great Gift Item for a Friend. Price; $25.00

Terra Complete Set of Tools: This is a complete set of tools, packed into a leather travel case. Tools include: Whip Finisher, Bodkin, Rotating Hackle Pliers, Dubbing Spinner, Threader, Ceramic Bobbin, Scissors. Great gift item. Price: $35.00


Other New Tools: I found some more cool stuff:

Foam Cylinder Tool: If you like to turn foam bugs out of cylinders ( Live Body or Beach Shoes ) this tool is for you. Brass with threads, allows you to sand bodies into shapes. Fits Dremel or reg cordless screw guns. Price: $6.50

Terra Deluxe Bodkin: An Extra heavy large handle with standard bodkin tip. Very nice. Machined aluminum handle. $3.50

True Dubbing Spinner: Solid brass hook weighted to spin a dubbing loop. Similar to the old Lafontaine design. Spins evenly. Very nice; $12\

Dubbing Comb: Metal fine tooth comb. For combing out dubbing or for removing fuzz off deer hair. Metal handle, much finer than most deer hair combs. $10 each

Terra Dubbing Rake: Back at a great price! Dubbing rake with brass handle, metal teeth allow to remove guard hair or use for teasing out dubbing. Very nice. $3.50

Terra Solid Aluminum Stackers: Hour glass design, machined out of solid aluminum, makes stacking a breeze. Select from 3 sizes: Large, Medium, Small. Use Large for Industrial Hair bugs, Medium for muddlers and Small for fine compara duns. Price: Large: $9.00, Medium: $8.50, Small: $8.00

Complete Set of All 3 Matching, Comes with Leather Carrying Case:




Bonus Gift Items You can Make:

Here's a good one: Can't figure out what to give? Make streamers and hang them in clear Christmas balls. Use mono to hang them. The Balls sell at craft store for a $1 or less. I found some cool square ones for $.59 each. WOW!

Shadow boxes are nice gifts. One clever tier at the Symposium used tree bark as a backing on his. Very rustic and he reeled me in to the tune of $60. Use your imagination and have some fun. Thick frames often start at $5 and go up. You can frame cards, pictures with a fly set. Head out to Craft Stores and framing departments at discounters.

I have some most excellent gold salmon hooks with a built in pin and a gold head bead on the point. Make a nice pin for that special someone. About a size 2 : $5 each ( I have no idea if this is gold is gold and shiny and it won't come off, and still nice for only $5!!!!! )


Bills Skilton's Foam Cylinders. Live Body is back! I have the 2 most popular sizes: 1/2 and 3/8". Grind or sand into bass bugs, use for bombers or bangers. Colors: White, Yellow, Olive, Orange, Black, Chartreuse, Tan and Brown. $2 a pack. Narrow Stripped Black and Yellow: $3.50

Bill Skilton's Scud and Flash Back: Similar to Medallion Sheeting. Copper, Bronze, Olive. Cut into strips or use for wings. $2 each.

Whiting's New Partridge sub: Saddle of a new partridge material. Barred feathers of dun and white. Tie 8-10-12. Ideal for wets, collars or beards. Natural, Dyed Olive, Dyed Yellow. $15 each.

Special Mark Down: Size 14 badger dyed dun cards of hackle , 100 packs, were over $9.00 each NOW $4.50 each until gone! DYNAMITE for red quills. \

English Black Neck Ringneck Pheasant. Very unusual. Pheasant is a mutant which is black and brown with some red brwn. Usual blue green saddle is replaced with black/red-brown and metallic brown. $48

Black in stock! Dyed ringneck saddles. Use for spey hackle, sparrows and also makes some mean looking cheeks on streamers.Olive, Flo Green and Black. $5 each

Deer mask ( aka Deer Pizza) : Nope this isn't a deep dish special using venison. This is a dried face. Makes some of the best compara duns around. A boat load of deer hair about the size of standard pizza, hence the aka. In Some-more-orvis this is much higher. $20

Also marked way down! Whiting Silver / Bronze quarter saddles: Dyed dun or grizzly dyed brown, Were $19.50 each, NOW $10 until gone.

Scott Sanchez's Pony Heart Beads: The double bunny is the hottest fly around. Winner of the Jackson Hole one fly contest, you've seen this fly in lots of magazines and all over Dan Bailey' s. I have located THE bead used. Heart shaped plastic. Use big thread, build up the hook and then super glue it down. Red or Clear. Big Pack $1.50.

Midge Flash: Very hot flash similar to Crystal flash. Use for wings, bodies or caddis. Very neat stuff. This is a very hot seller. Purple, Orange, Pearl, Chartreuse and Black. $3.50

Crystal Mirror Flash; Very hot product similar to Mirage Accent. Texture and size about like Crystal Flash EXCEPT the colors change as you shift the light. If you change the location the colors change some what. Use for bass, steelhead or saltwater. Purple, Chartreuse, Orange, Black, Pearl, Olive. $5.00


Great Holiday Books:

Harrison Steeves's newest is " Tying Flies with Fur, Feathers and Foam." This may be one of the better written fly tying books. Instead of your typical pattern book or book of how to's , this contains Harrison's stories and how the flies evolved. Great info, hot patterns and innovative ideas. I love this book. $19.95 PB

Innovative Salwater Flies by David Klausmeyer. David is the editor for Fly Tying magazine. He selected interesting patterns, new ideas and then gave them a nice packaging and layout. Artwork is by the late Larry Largay. Well done and interesting. $45.00 HB

James Prosek's Trout of the World. Jame's first book was a big hit. First edition copies of this book with the poster are now up to $250 and counting! This is a follow up to the first book. Contains prints of water colors of fish from mostly Europe. James traveled places and made watercolors of trout from all over. Beautiful and well done. Sure to be a big collector's item. I have first editions ready to ship. Comes with free poster. Great gift item for a fishing buddy. $32.50 HB


The I Must be NUTS for doing this vise sale:

Here goes. Between now and 12/31/03 buy a vise get free stuff:

With a Dyna King Trekker: Buy this hot selling vise and get a FREE 1/4 saddle Whiting saddle. This is a $25 value and I will also do FREE shipping anywhere in the continuous US lower 48 states. $209 delivered to your house.

With a new Dyna King Barracuda Indexing Option: Buy this super vise and get 2 FREE 1/4 saddle patches from Whiting. This is a great vise and made even better, ideal for saltwater, trout, bass flies. American made using the best stuff like tool steel. $345.00 delivered.

With a Regal vise either standard or with a base, get your choice of genetic hen saddles or 2 cards of Whiting hackle. My best selling vise with a bunch of free stuff. With base, this is $225 with a clamp: $150. I will also do free shipping.

All hackle subject to availability. I reserve the right to choose colors/sizes/grades. I will send nice stuff and you will like it! NOBODY is doing a deal like this! Free shipping PLUS free stuff. If you live outside the lower 48 states, I will apply shipping credit to the entire cost of shipping. Still a great deal.


As usual if you wished to be removed for any reason Contact: Mike Hogue, Badger Creek Fly Tying, 622 West Dryden Road, Freeville, NY 13068. 607-347-4946. Email:, Web Site:




For more Info Contact:

Mike Hogue / Badger Creek Fly Tying / 622 West Dryden Road, Freeville, NY 13068

Phone: 607-347-4946