"Le Bug": A Deadly Dropper
If you are accustomed to using a dropper, either off of a dry or a nymph, then the Le Bug is the fly to try. The design is very simple and it comes in a variety of colors. In the water, it looks very buggy and most hungry trout or brim will pounce on it. A hybrid cross between an emerger, a partridge and a scud, this fly will get results when nothing else will work. Other than its small bead head, the fly is weightless and will react naturally in currents. It can be fished as a nymph, wet or as an emerger.
Years ago when I began my angling obsession, I kept hearing over and over again of the effectiveness of the soft hackle fly. Though the flies were simple in design and drab in color, all fly fishermen who fished the pattern, boasted of their results. Some of them attributed it to the freckled marking on the barbules of the hackle while others spoke of its natural undulation in current. Whichever it was, it produced fish.
One of the first fly patterns that I learned to tie was the soft hackle fly, and from that moment on, I began experimenting with material. I tried a variety of flash material like mylar or vinyl rib for the abdomen. I tested a variety of different color dubbings, beads and hook styles. After many years of testing I came back full circle to a simple effective design.
The Le Bug uses a shrimp caddis/scud hook. This makes hook-ups easy due to the wider gap on the smaller size hooks. The small bead reflects light much like an insect’s shiny head. The iridescent flash of peacock in the thorax grabs a fish’s attention. The shape and ribbing of the abdomen are very realistic. Everything suggests that this fly is a bug, a tasty delight for any fish. The Le Bug can be fished either as a wet fly or as a dropper/trailer. I’ve personally had great success fishing the Le Bug as a dropper/trailer off of a weighted nymph. I tie 12” to 16” inches of tippet (depending on the water’s depth) directly to the bend of the primary fly. I then tie on the Le Bug. I like using 5x tippet for hook sizes #12 & #14 and 6X tippet for hook sizes #16 & #18. If I’m fishing dry flies size #14 or smaller, I tie on Le Bugs in hook sizes #16 and #18. On the river, I make my presentation up stream allowing the fly to travel into food lines close to eddies. I have never seen a fly more productive than the Le Bug. The Le Bug comes in variety of colors to match hatches, seasonal changes and geography.
The best method that I have found for testing a new fly pattern, besides fishing it relentlessly, is to tie hundreds of flies over a period of time in various sizes and colors and give them to my experienced friends and professional guides to try out. Ron Luckie and Bruce Stolbach are two such individuals. Ron is a very experienced fly fisherman that has been fly-fishing for over forty years and the best fly fisherman I’ve ever seen. In fact, Ron has fished in all fifty states and most of the more famous worldwide destinations like Patagonia, New Zealand and England.
When asked to comment on the Le Bug, here is what Ron had to say.
“Several months ago I was fishing the Cumberland River in Kentucky. The Cumberland is a tail water fishery that is both beautiful and abounds with brown and rainbow trout. I was there in early summer and the river was swarming with spawning carp. The water near the dam was so clear you could see thousands of carp. It was an awesome sight. You could also see trout swimming among the hoards of carp.
I had been told that recently nymphs were much superior to dries on the Cumberland. Several nymph patterns had been recommended. I tried them all with no success. As you might guess I have been skunked on several occasions, but on this river I could see all those trout. I was determined. I reached in my fly box and retrieved an old reliable, the Le Bug. I had used it to great success in my home waters, out West and abroad. I tied it on as a trailer to the nymph I was fishing. Shortly a nice rainbow was stretching my line. For two days I fished the Le Bug with great success. I was fortunate enough to land a trophy rainbow the second day. Once again I was reminded that when all else fails, tie on the Le Bug.”
Bruce Stolbach is a professional guide on the Frying Pan, Roaring Fork and Colorado. He’s the owner of Alpine Angling and Roaring Fork Anglers in the Aspen valley. I’ve used his services on many trips out West. Bruce is very familiar with the Le Bug.
“I’ve fished the Le Bug on all 3 of our world class rivers and some of our lesser known but equally as good smaller creeks...bottom line, the Le Bug works. Le Bugs on size 10 -14 hooks produced quality fish in the spring and early summer when caddis and stone flies are the trout food de jour, and slammed the smaller sizes when dining on baetis in the late summer and fall. For guide trips, I always make sure I’ve got a few Le Bugs on hand when the going gets tough. Fish it deep with weight, or drop it off a dry, you’ll be glad you did.”
Regardless of how you fish the Le Bug, you will notice your hook-up rate increase dramatically. On those days when all else fails, tie on the Le Bug and smile.
-By Rick Lubrant