Mark White from ORVIS Greenville with a NC Rainbow
Why do wooly buggers work? There are several answers with two being the short over arching responses. The most obvious is that the wooly bugger imitates baitfish/stoneflies/hellgrammites/leeches, etcetera. The less obvious pertains more specifically to stocked fish. They eat the wooly bugger because they don’t k now what it is, and the only way they can investigate it is to bite it. Either way there is a time and place for wooly buggers and often when nothing else works I can put on a wooly bugger and light fish up. For those interested in the reasons they work so well Ill explain below.
The first reason the fish are so interested in buggers is that in any color they move through the water in the many ways baitfish do. You can’t fish them wrong. Dead drift, strip fast, strip long and slow, swing, dangle downstream, you cant fish them wrong as long as they are in the water. In addition to minnows when you dead drift them they look like all the insects mentioned above provided the size and color matches what the fish are seeing.
The second reason they work so well is that stocked fish fresh from the hatchery tanks have never seen something moving above them and through curiosity can’t stay away from a wooly bugger swinging overt their head. They have no hands right? So biting the fly is the only way to learn more about it. By the time they figure it out its too late. You got them. Once stocked fish have been in the river for a while they develop a form of PTSD and learned form of distrust of all things dead drifted. They get pounded by all flies and get to appoint where they have seen fewer things swung than dead drifted. Nothing swings better than a wooly bugger.
Im not saying the wooly bugger is the best fly by any means. If you fish it exclusively you will catch fish and some days you will catch the most. My point is I always have a few in olive, black, and white in my box and make sure to to try them at some point during the day. Especially as a day saver type fly when nothing else seems to work.
If you don’t have some order a couple in each color here. Tie them on with some 3x tippet and let them rip.