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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Seal Bugger

Rickards Seal Bugger Recipe

Hook: 4x - Tie sizes 6 through 10. This version uses a Tiemco 9395, Size 8
Wire: .020 Lead Wire 20 wraps
Tail: Sparse Marabou 1 1/2 times the shank length and sparse. This version Jay Fair's Black
Rib: Copper Wire
Body: Dubbed Seal and African Goat. This version 4 parts Black Simi Seal, 1 part Reddish Brown Simi Seal.
Hackle: Saddle Hackle Palmered. This version, Hareline Burnt Orange Saddle

Seal Bugger Notes:

I've always been a river and stream guy. Whether its floating a river in my driftboat or raft or fishing high back country creeks. My experience with stillwater has been confined to mainly fishing wilderness lakes in Montana and Wyoming where the trout were always willing and would take just about anything you'd throw at them.

It's just this year that I've decided to take up the study and practice of fishing stillwaters. I'll be sharing what I glean along the way.

I purchased Denny Rickards book titled "Fishing Stillwaters for Trophy Trout" years ago and its been sitting in my bookcase for years. I started my learning process by reading and studying it and refreshed his "Stillwater System" which is a team of impressionistic flies for stillwaters whereever you may roam.

One of his favorite patterns is the Seal Bugger. Here is how you tie them.

I tied up some Seal Buggers and picked up this fish on a Black and Scarlet Seal Bugger. They work!

Denny Rickards Seal Bugger

It is recommended to fish larger sizes 6-8 in the spring and then move to the smaller sizes 10 in the fall.

When selecting marabou feathers for the tail don't use the stiffer portion at the top of the plume including the stem. Use the side portions that have move movement.

Check out saddles dyed by J. Fair. They are top quality for these types of flies.

It is important to have the hackle palmered through the body. This will give the fly a breathing motion that you can't get if the hackle fibers face the rear of the hook. With that said, it recommended to tie them both ways and see which way the fish like best.

Real Seal is very hard to find. Arizona "Simi-Seal" is a very good substitute. Jay Fair also makes "Seal Sub" which is very good.

There is a tendency to either under dub or over dub this fly. Strive for a consistent base with the seal fibers standing at a right angle to the hook shank. If it is done right the fibers pulse and seem more alive.

It is recommended to fish the seal bugger with an intermediate line. You can also use a uniform sink type II, a uniform sink type III or a stillwater line depending on conditions. Try retrieves using a long slow pull or a very short rapid pull.

This fly is designed so the tail moves when stripped, the body pulses and the weight will drop the front portion of the fly when the strip is paused.

As another point to remember, the long slow pull with pulls of 20 to 30 inches is a go to retrieve for all types of larger flies that imitate leeches and bait fish.

Denny ties this pattern in 12 variations with contrasting body colors versus the hackle colors.

This is a great searching pattern that also represents a leech or a dragonfly nymph the best. It is also just a strong attractor. It isn't really a bait fish imitation. Tie them up in olives and browns.

Tying Instructions:

1. Place hook in vice and start the thread wrap behind the eye of the hook. Cover hook about 1/8" down from the eye. Tie in the .020 Lead Wire with thread.

2. Wrap the hook towards the hook bend with 20 wraps of the .020 lead. After tying in the lead run the thread to the end of the hook directly to the hook bend.

3. Pick a small bunch of marabou from the side portion of the feather. You want this to be a sparse bunch. This provides more movement of the tail. Tie the tail in about 1 1/2 times the length of the shank of the hook. Tie in the tail, bind it down and clip off the butts of the marabou.

4. Tie in the copper rib at the tie in point at the tail.

5. Tie in the saddle hackle. Select a webby hackle which is typically located near the stem of the hackle. Tie the hackle in by the butts not the tip. Position the feather so it will be palmered through the body with the hackle pointing towards the eye of the hook.

6. Tie in a dubbing loop that is about 6 inches long. Take a blend of Seal's Fur, 3/4's black and 1/4 scarlet/red. Use a coffee grinder to blend the dubbing materials. Place the fur cross-wise into the dubbing loop. Hold the material with your hand to keep the material from spinning and then spin the dubbing loop tool while holding the material. Let go of the material and it will spin itself. Pick out the excess to create a consistent rope. You can add more material below to extend the length of the dubbing rope if you need to lengthen the rope.

7. Once you have the correct amount of material in the rope continue spinning the dubbing loop tool. The key is to have the right amount of dubbing. If you use to much material it will tend to float the fly. Experiment until you get a sparse looking body with the fibers standing at a right angle to the shank of the hook.

8. Spin the loop tool a bit more and start placing wraps one in front of the other towards the eye of the hook. The seal fibers should be standing at a right angle to the hook shank. Wrap the rope forward until you just cover the lead wire and tie the rope off. Clip off the remaining rope.

9. Wrap the copper rib forward, not too tight and wrap about 10 times on a 4x hook. The copper ribbing is not real visible when you are tying the fly, but when the fly gets wet the brass shines through the dubbing. Tie off the wire at the head of the fly.

10. Once the copper rib is tied off use a bodkin and pick the trapped seal feathers out. You want the fibers to be standing out at a right angle to the hook shank. This is also why you don't want to wrap the copper wire too tight. By wrapping it loser, the fibers pick out more readily.

11. Wrap the hackle forward with 4 turns only. More than 4 turns will tend to float the fly. The other reason for only using 4 turns is to create segmentation. It also allows for the hackle and dubbed fibers to move and seem more alive. Tie off the hackle at the head and pick out fibers that have been bound down by the hackle stems. Be careful not to break the hackle stem when doing the final picking out of the fibers.

If the hackle fiber breaks, just tie in another hackle, no big deal. You can also do this is a fish rips it loose. Don't throw the fly away just tie in another hackle.

The finished fly. Try it, you'll like it.

How to fish the Seal Bugger

1. This is best fished with a long slow pull, 20 to 30 inches with the tip of the rod in the water. Try different speeds of the long slow pull until you find the speed the fish like.

2. Another retrieve is the short quick pull, 1 to 2 inch pulls in quick succession.

1 comment:

  1. Clay,

    I have been using variations of the Seal Bugger on the East Walker and Lower Owens since 2003...they work real fine in moving water too !!!

    PlanetTrout / Tim Barker


Have any Questions or Comments? Let me know, Clay.