This guide will show you how to tie a Micro Bugger. This pattern has saved me from blanking on numerous occasions. It’s incredibly easy to tie and always produces.

Fishing for the wild rainbow trout near Cape Town can prove to be challenging. The spooky and temperamental fish combined with technical drifts and over handing trees can make a day’s guiding turn South pretty fast.

I always joke by saying that the Micro Bugger makes a grumpy client a happy client. Although this is an exaggeration, it speaks to the fly’s capability to produce fish whenever the going gets tough.

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Quick Look

  • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Tying Time: 5 minutes
  • Materials: Jig-hook, slotted bead, thread, marabou, flash, dubbing, and black hen hackle
  • Hook Size: 14 – 18

What Is a Micro Bugger?

A Micro Bugger is a small variation of the popular Woolly Bugger. Although these are, in essence, the same pattern, the selection of material, and the hackle method differ.

How to tie a micro bugger fly

The small size and incredible action make it possible to imitate various life forms. From nymphs to worms to baitfish, this fly can impersonate them all.

How to Fish a Micro Bugger?

To me, the Micro Bugger is an even more versatile pattern than the standard Woolly Bugger. It’s small size and good sink rate enable you, as a fisherman, to use it in many different scenarios. Let’s have a look at some of my favorite situations to use this amazing fly.

Stillwaters and Lakes

The Micro Bugger can be used on lakes exactly like a normal Woolly Bugger. The fly is cast out and allowed to sink. Once it has reached the correct depth, retrieve using short jerks or long slow strips.

Rivers

Rivers and streams are my favorite scenarios to fish the Micro Bugger. You can use the fly in a normal nymphing or dry-dropper rig. Here, it will resemble a sub-surface moving aquatic insect. A very effective method in which use the fly is to swing it across and downstream.

Make a cast across the river at a 45-degree angle downstream. Pinch the line tight and allow the fly to swing until it’s below you. This method works especially well in the head of pools.

Materials You’ll Need to Tie a Micro Bugger

Dig into your fly tying kit and prepare to tie a Micro Bugger. You will need the following materials to tie a Micro Bugger:

Hook

Micro Buggers are usually tied on hook sizes 14 and smaller. They can be tied using a normal down-eyed hook or, my personal preference, on small jig hooks. The jig hooks allow the hook point to ride up. This method will allow you to use the Micro Bugger as a streamer and in a nymphing rig.

Recommended Jig Hooks:
Umpqua X-Series Jig Fly Tying Hook

Thread

Flat thread in sizes 70 Denier and smaller may be used. The color should be matched to the body or hackle of the fly. You can also use the thread to create a hotspot in the collar region of the fly.

fly tying thread

The two best colors to have at hand is black and white. A white thread can be colored with a permanent marker during the whip finish process. 

Recommended 50 Denier 12/0 Thread:
Semperfli – Nano Silk 50D 12/0

Recommended 70 Denier or 8/0 Fly Tying Thread:
Ultra Thread 70 Denier UTC

Bead

Match the bead style to the hook you are using. For normal down-eyed hooks, use a countersunk bead. For jig hooks make use of a slotted bead. In most cases, I recommend using tungsten beads.

fly tying Beads and eyes

Their relative density is far greater than brass, allowing the fly to sink faster. Great colors to use on Micro Buggers include:

  • Black
  • Silver
  • Gold
  • Fluorescent Orange
  • Red

Recommended Fly Tying Beads:
Tigofly 24 Colors Fly Tying Beads

Tail

The small tail is made from fine marabou. Once wet, marabou gives the Micro Bugger incredible action in the water. If you don’t have marabou you can use any soft fibers such as hen neck and partridge fibers. Good colors of marabou to have at hand are:

  • Black
  • Purple
  • Olive
  • Red
  • Chartreuse
  • White

Recommended Marabou Feathers:
Creative Angler Marabou Assorted Colors

Flash (optional)

Flash can be added to the marabou tail for an extra trigger. The addition of flash is completely optional and shouldn’t prevent you from tying the fly if you don’t have any.

fly tying flash

Good colors to have at hand include:

  • Black
  • Red
  • Silver
  • Pearl

Recommended Assorted Chenille & Flashabou:
Croch Fly Tying Materials Kit

Recommended Flash Material:
Phecda Sport 10 Pack Colorful Fly Tying Flash

Body

The body for a micro bugger can be created with many different material types. For the most part, I recommend using dubbing as most chenille is too bulky for these small flies. If you don’t have the correct color dubbing, you can also dub some of the left-over marabou of the tail.

Hackle

Instead of wrapping a hackle over the entire length of the body, I prefer a sparse hackle right behind the bead. You can make use of hen neck hackle, partridge, or any other soft hackle feathers.

Recommended Hackle:
Introductory Hackle Pack – 4 Assorted

Sealant

Make use of any head cement or resin that you prefer. In most cases I use one of the following:

Recommended UV Glue / Resin:
Loon Outdoors UV Clear Finish

Tools Needed to Tie a Micro Bugger

You’ll need the following tools to tie a Micro Bugger:

Play Video

Let's Get Started!

How To Tie a Micro Bugger

The following recipe and guide will show you the step-by-step process to tie a Micro Bugger. You can find the appropriate purchase links for all of these products in the descriptions above.

Micro Bugger Recipe

  • Hook: Mouche 6432 sizes 14 – 18
  • Bead: Slotted tungsten bead 2 – 3mm
  • Thread: Semperfli Nanosilk 50D color matched the fly
  • Tail: Marabou
  • Flash: Krystal Flash
  • Body: Dubbing to suit the color of the fly
  • Hackle: Hen Neck Hackle
  • Sally Hansen Hard As Nails
  • A piece of Velcro

Step 1: Slide The Bead Over The Hook

Select the appropriately sized bead and hook. The slotted bead has a small hole on the one side and a long open slot on the opposite side. 

Slide the small hole over the hook point first. Seat the bead on the jig hook so that the small hole sits right up against the eye of the hook.

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Step 2: Secure The Hook in The Vise

Place the hook between the jaws of the vise. The shank must be level and the hook bend between the jaws. 

Ensure the hook’s barb area is exposed as this will be used to measure the thread base of the fly. Once you’re happy with the position, lock the cam lever of the vise.

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Step 3: Attach Thread To The Hook

Hold the tip of the thread in your left hand and place it over the hook with your right hand. Make 5 or 6 touching wraps forward, then bring the thread back over itself 5 or 6 times. 

This will lock it in place. Cut off the excess tag end.

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Step 4: Lay The Front Thread Foundation

Wrap the thread forward until you reach the bead. Build a thread dam behind the bead to lock it in place. 

You will see that the bead starts picking up slightly as you secure it.

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Step 5: Lay The Rear Thread Foundation

Wrap the thread backward with touching turns until you reach the bend of the hook. 

When you leave the bobbin hanging freely, the thread should intercept the hook barb. This is the correct position to tie in the tail.

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Step 6: Cut The Marabou Tail

Select your desired color marabou feather and stroke the fibers so that they are perpendicular to the stem. The tips of the marabou fibers should align. 

Cut a small clump of fibers off, depending on the size of the fly you’re tying. Wet the marabou fibers before continuing.

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Step 7: Measure The Tail

Move the marabou fibers over the shank of the hook. Place the tips at the bend of the hook and the base of the fibers towards the hook eye. 

The tail will be the total length of the straight hook shank. Make a mental note of the tying in position.

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Step 8: Tie In The Tail

Transfer the tying in position to where you left the thread. Lock the marabou in place with two pinch wraps and secure the marabou all the forward until you reach the bead. 

Cut off the excess material. Wrap the thread halfway back down to the tail.

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Step 9: Tie In The Flash

Cut a single long strand of flash material and fold it in half. Place the loop over the hook shank and pull the tips tight in an upward direction. 

Secure with thread. Then, secure the fibers all the way back. Before you reach the base of the tail, splay the two flash fibers on either side of the tail.

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Step 10: Dub The Body

Pull a tuft of dubbing fibers from the packaging. Form a dubbing noodle around the thread tapered from ting, on the top, to thick. 

Wrap the dubbing around the shank until you reach the back of the bead.

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Step 11: Comb Out The Body Fibers

Comb out the dubbing fibers with a piece of Velcro. First, comb them out in the forward direction, then rearwards. No need to be delicate here.

Combing out the fibers will simply make the fly look more buggy and lifelike in the water.

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Step 12: Prepare The Hackle

Pull a hen hackle feather from the skin. Remove the fluffy fibers at the base of the feather. Pull the fibers on the right-hand side of the feather back and rip them off the stem. 

Now, pull the fibers on the left-hand side back so that they stand perpendicular to the stem.

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Step 13: Tie In The Hackle

Tie in the tip of the hackle just behind the bead. 

Once secure, cut off the excess and cover the excess feather material.

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Step 14: Wrap The Hackle

Wrap the feather around the shank in the same direction as the thread. Ensure that no fibers get trapped. 

Palmer the hackle forward until you have created a neat hackle. Secure with thread and cut off the excess hackle.

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Step 15: Finish The Fly

Color the thread black with a marker and then make a few wraps. Then whip finish the fly twice and pull the knots tight. Cut off the thread. 

If you need a refresher, or need to learn, check out our guide on how to do a whip finish.

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Step 16: Apply Head Cement

Add a drop of your favorite resin, glue, or varnish to secure the thread.

Adding a seal to the thread on your flies will help give them a lot more durability and longevity on the water and in your fly box.

Finishing the micro bugger fly step16

The CDC & Elk

complete flyhow to tie a micro bugger -

Now You Know

How To Tie a Micro Bugger

If you’ve never fished with a Micro Bugger, tie some up using our guide and whatever material you have around. Keep them in your fly box until you have a hard day’s fishing. Tie one on and swing it through a good-looking drift. The chances are you’ll never want to fish anything else again.

Please share this guide with your fly fishing and tying friends. Leave any comments, questions, or suggestions at the bottom of the page. We would love to hear from you!