Above Photo: Mike Hogue's Foam Bass Bugs, photo by Al Beatty.
Portions of this article first appeared in the fall 1996 isssue of The FlyFisher, the national magazine of the Federation of Fly Fishers. Special thanks to Al Beatty for his help in taking the photos.
For several years I've been using a material called Live Body to make
bass bugs. Live Body is a round die-cut foam blank which is 1 1/2"
long. These blanks come in white, black, blue, brown, green, red, yellow
and gray. The diameters of Live Body range from 1/8" (which can be
used for ants and extended body flies) to 3/4".
Live Body combines the unique properties of softness and durability which give your finished bug a life like quality with the advantages of both deer hair and cork bodied bugs. Because Live Body is somewhat ridged, the body can be shaped and sanded. These bugs can also be colored with markers or come predyed saving the tier time and effort in construction of the bugs.
To make foam bugs you need to make a mandrel in order to spin and sand the bug. Begin by going to the hardware store and buy a 1 1/2" machine screw that is about 3/16" in diameter. Several other sizes of an 1/8" or less may also be very useful in making smaller sized bluegill bugs. If you have long toggle bolts, the screws which come on the bolt may also be used. To make your mandrel, cut the slotted head off as close as you can to the edge. With a file square one end. On the other side file the end to a tapered point. The squared end gives the mandrel a seat which can be held easily in the drill , while the tapered end allows you to thread the foam on to the mandrel. If you have a Dremel these steps can be completed using a cut-off wheel and grinding stone bits.
Hook: Mustad 37190 size 6 or (substitute 3366 size 2)
Base for live body: Fly Master +, Black
Tailing Thread: 6/0 Black
Tail:Gold Crystal Flash over Kelly Green Marabou over
2 strands of green and yellow rubber hackle
Rear Legs: 1 pair each of green & yellow dyed grizzly splayed out
Skirt: 1 strung green,& 1 strung yellow hackle
Body: 1/2 " Yellow Live Body, top colored green and face colored red
Fore legs: 1 green, 1 yellow med. rubber
Eyes: 7mm yellow doll eyes
1) Form body as described above and attach body to hook shank.
2) Fold in half 2 " strands of rubber legs and tie in. Tie in 1 marabou feather. On top of marabou tie in a clump of 20 strands of gold crystal flash.
3) Match ends of 1 green grizzly feather & I yellow grizzly feather, tie in and splay out. Tie in another matched set. Coat thread wraps with head cement or finger nail polish.
4) Tie in strung hackle wrap as a skirt and tie off.
5) Color back of bug body with a green marker. Color face with a red marker. Add brown dots to back.
6) Glue on eyes, by adding a small drop of zap-a-gap to eye's back and sticking eye to the bug body. Very tricky step-hold eye between thumb and fore finger and add glue with other hand. Quickly touch the eye in place and then push in for a few seconds. If you goof it up , peel the eye off and start over. If you get zap-a-gap on your fingers, let dry it and rub your finger over sand paper to remove the glue. The glued eyes will act as rudders to keep you bug from rolling side to side and help it turn over properly.
7) Insert legs by weaving legs through body with a large darning type needle.
8) If you wish to add a weed guard, flip the completed bug on its back. In front of the hook point punch a hole in the exact center of belly of the bug. Use a clippers to cut a 1 1/2 " piece of 20 lb mono. Cut one end at 45 degrees. Add a drop of super glue to this end and stick it in the punched hole. Let dry. Fold the mono over the back end of the hook and clip the tag off.
For more Info Contact:
Mike Hogue / Badger Creek Fly Tying / 622 West Dryden Road, Freeville, NY 13068