Tying the Wiggle Bug

by Mike Hogue

above photo by Martha Hogue

A few years ago, Steven Shiba and Larry Tullis of Utah created a bass bug called the Wiggle Bug which was marketed by the Edgewater Fly Co. The Wiggle Bug is one of the truly great bass bugs to come along for some time. While the bug doesn't look like much, it's behavior in the water is unlike anything you have ever fished before. I've been using the Wiggle Bug for about 4-5 years and I've always had some outstanding results. Before the mining operations messed up Crooked Creek in Arkansas, I caught between 20 and 30 smallmouth on this fly. Prior to the flood of '93 on the Boone River in Iowa I caught about 20-30 fish again using this fly. Along the St. Croix River in Minnesota I had similar results.

The wiggle bug design creates some very cool actions which can not be imitated by any other type of fly. For all you folks that grew up fishing Rapella's and crank baits this fly is a Godsend. Very simply, the wiggle bug acts like a crank bait. It will wobble from side to side, dive and pop.If you work the rod tip back and forth and retrieve the fly in hard 2-3 foot strips the fly will do all of these things simultaniously....no kidding. Now just try to do that with a stick bait hardware slingers!

The design of the wiggle bug is very simple. It is a wooly bugger with a foam overbody. The body is constructed of fly foam and cut so that a bill is created to make the fly dive. Using the correct size materials will greatly help in constructing this fly.

For the tails I use strung marabou. I use one full feather tied so that the tail is about 1 1/2 times the length of the hook shank. For the hackle I use strung variant saddle hackle and select the largest and webest pieces out of the string. If you use hackle that is too short, you'll loose some of the action in the fly.

For foam I use Phil Camera's Larva Lace Foam. There is nothing special about this foam other than it is a little thicker than your normal Wapsi size fly foam but smaller than their thick size....Gee does that make sense? In other words, Wapsi Fly Foam is about 1/16" thick, Larva Lace is 1/8" thick and Wapsi thick foam is about 1/4" thick.You can split the fat Wapsi foam but it is a real pain and not worth the hassle. The small size is just too wimpy for this fly.

The Wiggle Bug Pattern

Hook: Mustad 3366 size 2

Thread: 6/0 for the body and size 3/0 for the head

Tail: Copper Crystal Flash (10-20 strands) over Bronze Flash-a-bou ( 10-20 strands) over strung marabou

Body: Med Variegated Chenille...sub short flash crystal chenille is you like

Over-Body: Larva Lace Foam

Hackle: Strung dyed variant saddle hackle

Tying the Fly

Begin by tying in the tail. Tie in one full feather so that the length is 1 1/2 times the length of the shank. I prefer using Wapsi's wooly bugger marabou... for this fly. Lose marabou is too big for this application.

Tie on flash materials.

Cut a strip of foam 3/8 to 1/2" wide and 1 1/4" long.

Tie in chenille and make one wrap. This creates a hump that forces the body up.

Tie foam flat on the top of the hook shank. A small tab should extend back over the fly. Make 4- 5 wraps and tie down tightly. Don't use too much force or you'll snap the thread.

Tie in hackle. Wrap chenille forward. Palmer wrap the hackle and tie off.

Pull foam over the back of the fly. Watch where the foam meets the eye of the hook. At this point take a bodkin and punch a hole in the exact center of the foam. (if it is offset, the fly won't balance properly). Force the foam through the hook shank's eye.

Take some 3/0 thread and make a very fat, thick head in front of the foam.This keeps the foam from coming off.

Next pinch the front of the foam so that the sides bend together. Cut the foam at a 45 degree angle leaving about 3/8 " to 1/2" hanging below. This creates the diving bill and makes a nice tapered front. Experiment a few times as you can shorten the bill but not make it longer.

My favorite color is hot orange/black Variegated chenille, hot orange back, hackle and tail. Olive with an olive/black Variegated chenille body, olive hackle, olive back and tail is also very good. My friend Larry Young loves a gray back, dun tail, grizzly hackle and dun or powder blue body. He uses these for wipers which are white bass and striper hybreds.

To fish the fly, make hard strips, move the tip from side to side and retrieve quickly. If you master doing all these actions at once the fly will behave in very erratic way driving fish into a frenzy!


Email: Mike@eflytyer.com

For more Info Contact:

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

Phone: 607-347-4946