The Copper Bully

Published May 13th 2009

It's simple. It's efficient. It's a great Gammarus or scud imitation.

By ,

The Copper Bully

Kobberbassen - or The Copper Bully - has been mentioned on the Global FlyFisher many times, and it might seem overkill to cover this simple fly again, but trust me: it's worth it! No sea trout box should be without a small Gammerus imitation, and the Copper Bully is one of the most efficient and easily tied gammerids.

The fly is also sometimes referred to as the Copper Louse - Kobberlusen - and its origins seem to be a merge of two strains. Kobberbassen (Eng. The Copper Bully) was conceived by Frank Jensen in 1996 while Kobberlusen (Eng. The Copper Louse), which originally was a bit more complex, was initially tied by Morten Kristiansen. There are numerous interpretations of these flies out there, and a quick search shows that not two are alike in the detail, but the flies are still so identical and so simple, that pooling them into one is obvious.
Their prime common trait is the copper dubbed body.

Copper Bully fish - Copper Bully water

The Gammerus is a very large group of small bugs, which are widespread and common in both saltwater and freshwater. The bugs vary in size, but a ½ centimeter or 1/5 of an inch must be considered a giant Gammarus, so the flies you tie to imitate them are fairly small - typically in th #8 to #12 or #14 range. We tend to tie our imitations slightly larger than the natural, and the same is the case with the Copper Bully as a Gammarus imitation.

A fly in the hook size 8-12 range - not to mention 14 - is considered very small for sea trout, and one way of compensating for the small hook is to use a short shank wide gape hook. One of the best types of hooks with these traits is a specimen or carp hook like the Kamasan B980. This hook is strong, wide and very sharp. The only drawback is that it's offset, meaning that the hook point is not parallel to the shank when seen from above. This fact shouldn't keep you from using it.
Simply bend the hook back to straight if you want.
You can also use the offset hook. It might work better than the straight version.
The carp folks seem to think so.

The natural

The Copper-whatever flies have been tied with all kinds of extras - tail, shell, legs, ribbing and whatnot - but essentially all you need is copper dubbing of some kind, This comes in many variations from something that resembles shiny orange hair to something which is much coarser and copper-like such as Angel Hair or Lite Brite. What you use depends partially on taste and partially on what size hook you a re using.
The variation we show here is tied by Ken Bonde Larsen and has a small tail and a rib for reinforcement, but you can omit both if you please. Missing the ribbing might cost a shredded fly or two, but it will increase your fly tying productivity by a factor of two or three!

The Copper-whatever flies are typically used in clear, shallow water. Since they imitate gammarids or scuds, the presence of these small crustaceans is often the trigger, which gets this pattern out of the box. It has caught many different species, and apart from being a great sea trout fly, it's also excellent for garfish when tied on small and very sharp hooks.
Tied in small sizes it will no doubt make a fine freshwater fly too, imitating brownish nymphs, scuds and cress bugs.

The Copper Bully - Kobberbassen
TypeCold saltwater fly
Frank Jensen
Year of origin
Very easy

HookShort shank wet fly, #8-10
Tying threadRed, orange or rusty brown 6/0
TailA few short straws of Krystal Flash
RibCopper wire
DubbingCopper Lite Brite or Angel Hair
HeadTying thread

Tying instructions
See picture series

Step 1 - start the thread - Start the thread in the front part of the hook and secure it with a few turns
Step 1 - start the thread
Step 2 - tail material - Continue the thread to the rear of the hook shank and tie in the tail material doubled over to form four tail filaments. The tail has to sit fairly low on the hook bend.
Step 2 - tail material
Step 3 - trim tail - Trim the tail to an appropriate length - about half the hook shank
Step 3 - trim tail
Step 4 - wind thread forward - Wind the thread forwards to the hook eye
Step 4 - wind thread forward
Step 5 - Tie in rib - Tie in the rib in front of the hook shank and tie it down the full length of the body
Step 5 - Tie in rib
Step 6 - Rib done - Leave the ribbing sticking rearwards
Step 6 - Rib done
Step 7 - Dub the thread - Start the dubbing on the thread. As always: dub sparsely!
Step 7 - Dub the thread
Step 8 - Start dubbing - Take a turn or two backwards over the tail to start the dubbing, and wind forwards in touching turns
Step 8 - Start dubbing
Step 9 - Body - Form the body by winding the dubbed thread forwards. The thin dubbing means that you need a couple of layers to obtain the right thickness
Step 9 - Body
Step 10 - Finish body - Measure out the dubbing to finish the body close behind the hook eye.
Step 10 - Finish body
Step 11 - Finished body - The body shape is not that critical as long as you have a basically cylindrical form
Step 11 - Finished body
Step 12 - Tease - Tease out the copper dubbing. Be rough!
Step 12 - Tease
Step 13 - Wind the rib - Wind the rib forwards in 4-5 open turns
Step 13 - Wind the rib
Step 14 - Trim the wire - Tie down the copper wire and trim the surplus
Step 14 - Trim the wire
Step 15 - Head - Form a small head
Step 15 - Head

Step 16 - Whip finish - Whip finish a couple of times. Cut thread.
Step 16 - Whip finish
Step 17 - Tease again - And be rough again!
Step 17 - Tease again
Step 18 - Adjust dubbing - If the fly has become a bit too \
Step 18 - Adjust dubbing
Step 19 - Varnish - Cover the head with varnish to secure the thread
Step 19 - Varnish

Teasing out the copper dubbing gives a nice translucency

User comments
From: JOHN BRKICH · johnbrkich·at·  Link
Submitted October 4th 2009


Comment to an image
From: Blatt · blattman·at·  Link
Submitted August 5th 2009

Nice pattern!
I like very much this "scrambled" look...
Guess fish does like it so much!

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