Shop Orvis Today!

Zug Bug Pattern & Tying Instructions

Fly Tying Recipe: Zug Bug
2X-long nymph hook (e.g. Dai-Riki #730), sizes 14–16.
First Thread:
Black, 6/0.
Peacock herl.
Silver tinsel.
Peacock herl.
Hen hackle.
Wing case:
Mallard or wood-duck flank feather.
Head: Tying thread.
Show / Hide Zug Bug Transcript

Video Transcript:

The Zug Bug was created by Cliff Zug from Pennsylvania in the 1930's. Although it's supposed to imitate a cased Caddis or Caddis Larvae, I think it might suggest numerous aquatic insects. Here, Matt Grobert is going to tie his version of a Zug Bug.

He's going to use a Dai-Riki #730 size 14 nymph hook. For thread, black 6/0 Danville. With the barb mashed and the hook in the vise, Matt starts the thread on the hook shank and winds all the way back to the bend. Notice the long tag of tying thread he's left hanging off the rear of the hook.

For the tail, snip 4 or 5 peacock swords and tie them in to form a tail about a hook gap in length. With the tail complete, wrap your thread forward collecting the peacock swords as you go. The goal is to create a reasonably uniform underbody for the remainder of the fly.

Flat or oval silver tinsel are the traditional choices for the fly's rib but just about any thin silvery thing will work. Once you get the tinsel securely tied in, wind your tying thread forward leaving about 2 eye lengths behind the hook eye.

Snip 2 peacock herls free from the stem just below the eye. Tie the herls in simultaneously and take wraps over the butts to just behind the eye. Get hold of both herls and begin winding them around the hook shank with adjacent wraps. Matt is the keeper of some deep, dark peacock herl secrets that allow him to create such a full bodied Zug Bug. We'll have to delve into these at a later date.

Once you reach the tail, pick up that tag of tying thread you left and use it to secure the herl and then take open spiral wraps up the shank trying hard to not trap fibers as you go. At the head of the fly, use your tying thread to secure the tag thread before finally snipping it off close. You can also snip the remainder of the peacock herl off.

Pick up your tinsel and use it to make 4 or 5 open spiral wraps up the shank, through the peacock herl. Tie the tinsel off securely with your tying thread and snip the remainder away. Use your thread to create a smooth base on which to wrap the fly's hen hackle.

Select a single feather, here Matt's using one in Speckled Brown. Strip down and away the fuzzy lower fibers to create some space on the stem. Then pull a few more fibers down that will actually be the legs of the fly. This will expose just the tip of the feather which you snip off leaving just a small triangle. Tie this triangle in on the near side of the hook. With hackle pliers, get a hold of the stem and pull the hackle fibers rearward. Begin wrapping the hackle, pulling the fibers back as you go. With that complete, secure the hackle stem with tying thread and then snip it off close.

Try to get most of the hackle fibers pointed rearward so they're out of the way for the next step. Using a single mallard or wood duck flank feather, strip the fuzzies down the stem and then snip them off. Right where the fibers meet the stem, secure the feather to the hook. The feather should be flat on top of the fly. Give the stem a little pull to get everything aligned correctly. Snip the stem off close and then take thread wraps to form a nice neat head. Whip finish with 4 or 5 turns and then snip or cut your tying thread free.

The final step on this Zug Bug is to cut the flank feather off close. The Zug Bug is just one of those patterns that seems to have all the right materials in all the right places. There's no denying it's a fish-catching machine.