The Perfect Woolly

Published Feb 8th 2010

The Woolly Bugger is a universal fly, but tied as the Perfect Woolly it's even more deadly!


Perfect Woolly's

I think sometimes flies are discussed too much. "Use a Polar Magnus in the spring-time and try the Pink Pig for sure. Make sure to tie in the bead chain very straight otherwise the fly is sloping…! Do not forget to add enough weight to the Pink Pig and also try the Grey Frede."
Nearly every sea trout fisherman has his own variations of dozens of patterns in his box. But most of them do not believe in every one of their flies and they try to tune-up older and develop new flies. If you go with this for some time your boxes will be overfilled and you will waste your time in changing flies on your next coastal trip.

I gave up. For me sea trout fishing in the Baltic Sea is some kind of search fishing and the pattern is a minor matter. If you found active fish your chances are very big to catch - never mind the pattern. For me the effect of a fly is most important. And in most cases it is the jigging effect. This is why a lot of Sea trout flies are tied for example with bead chain eyes. A concentrated weight close to the hook eye combined with a loop knot causes a nice jigging effect. For me an essential fact of the most successful coast flies.


If you generalize the style of a Magnus and all the variants (like the Bjarke, the Copper Frede and so on) it is nothing more than a Woolly Bugger with bead chain eyes. As a big range of flies - especially coast flies - were developed from the Woolly Bugger, I got back to it and created a very simple pattern which is extremely durable and very easy to tie. Only a few materials are needed to tie a great universal pattern which is highly recommended. The perfect Woolly Bugger!

Perfect Woolly
TypeWet fly
Raoul Kempkes
Target species
Brook trout
Brown trout
Largemouth bass
Pike perch (zander)
Rainbow trout (landlocked)
Sea trout (sea run)
Smallmouth bass

HookVMC PS Streamer Hook: Size #6; for me the best saltwater streamer hook out there!
ThreadUTC Ultra Thread 140 Denier: A very good thread! Very tear-proof and there is a whole range of colors available (fits to the colors of Krystal Dub & Soft Hackle with Chickabou).
BeadI use 4 mm tungsten beads in various colors which weight and size fits great for my Woolly’s! They do not give too much weight but cause a nice jigging.
Tail and body hackleWhiting “Soft Hackle & Chickabou”: The Woolly Bugger I tie is definitely living from its materials. The “Soft Hackle & Chickabou” from Whiting is a quiet rare material but very economic and giving perfect results. The Chickabou replaces the Marabo
TailI use two strips of pearl colored Krystal Flash for the tail. Less is more!
BodyKrystal Dub: The Krystal Dub is used because it is a very fine natural (rabbit) dubbing with a minimum of shiny fibers. The small amount of fibers gives a nice little glimmer when the fly is brushed with Velcro after tying.

Step 1: the bead - Put the bead onto the hook and tie in the thread. Secure the thread with varnish or glue! Coastal fishing ain\'t ballet dancing!
Step 1: the bead
Step 2: tying thread - Start the tying thread behind the bead and cover the shank.
Step 2: tying thread
Step 3: tail - Take two little Chickabou feathers and tie them in. The best result is made when the fibers are positioned vertically to the hook-shank. Cut the waste off and tie some thread over it.
Step 3: tail
Step 4: flash and hackle - Tie in two fibers of Krystal Flash - one on each side. Secure the completed tail with varnish or glue. Take a long \
Step 4: flash and hackle
Step 5: body - Use the Krystal Dub to create a smooth body from the tail to the head. After this, brush the dubbing a little with Velcro.
Step 5: body
Step 6: hackle - Wind the hackle in very big turns to the head of the fly. You need to have enough fine fibers to make at least one complete turn directly behind the tungsten bead. Do not tie in the Marabou-like fibers of the hackle. Cut the hackle off.
Step 6: hackle
Step 7: secure with thread - Secure the whole body with tying thread in big turns to the tail and back to the head. Make a secure head knot. I make this knot twice. It has to be really firm because of a intensive brushing step followed. Leave the thread as a safety, but keep it out of the way when brushing.
Step 7: secure with thread
Step 8: brush and trim - Brush the body very well and in every direction. The last brushing step should be in the direction towards the tail. Here you give the fly its final look. Cut off the thread (not too short) and secure the knot with varnish or glue
Step 8: brush and trim
The Perfect Woolly. Step 9: done! - The Perfect Woolly, well groomed and ready to catch.
The Perfect Woolly. Step 9: done!

Well done, this is a perfect Woolly!


As all materials - Soft Hackle & Chickabou, Krystal Dub and Ultra Thread are available in different colors - you can easily create a single-colored fly. I personally love to create a color-contrast with colored tungsten beads since this is great looking and can be a key stimulus for fish to bite (especially red or orange). The coloring of the Woolly Bugger should fit to the actual conditions at your water.

I use colorful Woolly's (like pink) in muddy waters and in the winter and natural-colored Woolly's (like grizzly brown) in clear and calm waters. In-between of those conditions a natural-colored fly with a high-contrast tungsten bead is my first choice (particularly a black Woolly Bugger with an orange tungsten bead)!

I also tried luminous tungsten beads on the black Woolly Bugger for the coastal night fishing. This works well for sea trout and cod.

I tied this fly for a sea trout trip to the south Swedish coast in 2008 and I was quite lucky with it. Within my last trips this fly became my very favorite. The most vivid behavior of the fly is produced with a combination of a fluorocarbon leader and a loop knot. This is a very essential piece of advice regarding how the Perfect Woolly should be fished!
Since I started to fish with this fly I have caught sea trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, char, pike perch, perch, asp and roach with it.

Tie and try it. You will be thrilled…!


More woollies:
  • The Grey Fred
  • Copper Frede
  • Magnus
  • Baby Buggers
  • Woolly Wisdom

  • User comments
    From: Chuck · chuckgroth_art·at·  Link
    Submitted October 12th 2013

    Like David above, I have always had mixed results with the wooly bugger. But this weekend, I tied up a few in black and a couple in brown, but I added a coil of lead under the body, and headed out to the Current River in SE Missouri. After nymphing without any luck, i tied on a huge black and caught a trout on the first cast. I kept throwing it, and they kept taking it. I think I had caught 10 or more before a fish snapped it off. But the spell was broken somehow... Using a different black, and then a brown, I couldn't get any more interest.

    From: David · davbowlin·at·  Link
    Submitted July 15th 2013

    I have been cursed by the Woolly Bugger flay for many years. I would try to fish this fly when report and those persons leaving the river were having luck with its use. I was told to fish this like a nymph i.e., drift-fishing under an indicator. I had completely given up using the woolly. A few days ago I was fishing at Roaring River State Park MO and observed a young teen boy just tearing up the trout on almost every cast. After sitting and watching for about fifteen minutes I tied on a brown Woolly, used the same technique and caught fish on my first cast. "Curse broken!" Brown, olive, grey, and pink are my go to flies here on out.

    From: Steven · steven.doole·at·  Link
    Submitted May 24th 2013

    I tie these with bucket heads, great for wet lining on the tongariro

    From: John Morton · johnmorton1·at·  Link
    Submitted November 10th 2012

    I got these boxes ex Chine at about NZ $5 a box. Site to follow up is The same boxes are selling here at $99-00 - a rip off.
    I have double sided ones with waterproof clear lids. Glue is not good so have redone them with superglue

    GFF staff comment
    From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·  Link
    Submitted March 22nd 2012


    If this very simple and clear sequence can't do it, I'm afraid we can't help you... Look on YouTube, Vimeo or ask in your local flyshop for help.


    From: amir · amir.mf15·at·  Link
    Submitted March 22nd 2012

    I want tie woolly bugger but i can not understand the pictures .
    can you help me with this?

    From: Sietze · Sietzedevisser·at·  Link
    Submitted November 4th 2011

    Somehow my local fly shop doesn`t sell this exact box. But i have already found them on a polish and very reliable webshop. Thanks four your help and a great site!

    GFF staff comment
    From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·  Link
    Submitted November 2nd 2011


    That certainly depends on where you are in the world... C&F design are widely aqvailable, and if "almost all your boxes are C&F" you must have a source already or...? A lot of shops carry them in alsmost all countries.

    Anyhow, as always: Know Google? Leads directly to C&F homepage with a webshop.


    From: Sietze  Link
    Submitted November 2nd 2011

    Ok thanks do you have any idea where i can find these boxes? the seem impossible to find. The price of a box doesn`t bother me. Amost all my boxes ar c&f rather pay 25 quid then al my hours of work and delicate dressings spred along the river bank.

    GFF staff comment
    From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·  Link
    Submitted November 2nd 2011


    My guess is that the box is a C&F Design box - or a knockoff. Excellent boxes - most of the copies are not anywhere as good as the original, but also way less expensive.


    From: Sietze - Full name and email anonymized  Link
    Submitted November 2nd 2011

    Wich brand and type of fly boxis it? Do`nt know if i see it right but is this a flat foam box with long slits marked by a small dot cut out? I`m trying to find those boxes quite a while because i find a large streamer hook ruines the regular foam boxes where you stuk them in. And i can`t find a large slit foam box thats suitable either. I`m looking forward to your reply.

    From: Raoul Kempkes · raoulkem·at·  Link
    Submitted December 11th 2010


    my favourite seller for tungsten products can be contacted at
    These beads have got a very good quality for a reasonable price!


    From: gary vollmer · gvollmer·at·  Link
    Submitted December 9th 2010

    Where did you get the colored tungsten beads for these flies?

    From: cornelis · corneel77·at·  Link
    Submitted September 6th 2010

    C & F flybox ? its looking great filled with one of the best flies of the world...


    From: Pena  Link
    Submitted April 16th 2010

    Thats exactly the same fly (except for the hook) that I use for grayling in northern Finland with good success.

    From: dale thiel · dalethiel·at·  Link
    Submitted March 20th 2010

    -very nice box very, nice arrangment it looks like a pattern we use in montana only chenille instead of krystal dub and it works all year long even under the ice.But i might have to try it this way

    From: Raoul Kempkes · raoulkem·at·  Link
    Submitted March 1st 2010


    the only source I know is K&HD in Hamburg (
    Call Ralph or Walter (+49 040 43208697) and just ask for the special VMC saltwater hook. It is not a low-budget hook but it is solid, very sharp, really saltwater resistant and has got a good proportioned hook curve. Simply the best streamer hook I have ever tried.


    From: frank buchholz · frank.und.frei·at·  Link
    Submitted March 1st 2010


    thank u for this article, that fly really has got what it takes. I think I recognize the hook, which I am just as enthusiastic about. I just heard from a VMC-Ebay-dealer that he couldn`t find VMC PS streamer hooks in neither their german- nor world-catalogue. Where do u get them??

    Best regards,

    GFF staff comment
    From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·  Link
    Submitted February 24th 2010


    Print the article and take it to a fishing tackle shop or flyshop and just say "I want all this!" and point to the material's list. Wrap the whole thing with the print and you're set!

    Your boyfriend will love you endlessly and kiss you more for that! ;-)


    From: ashbee · ashbee·at·  Link
    Submitted February 24th 2010

    how do i get a wooly kit like that or similair my boyfreind has gone full force into it and i would like to get him tha

    From: Raoul Kempkes · raoulkem·at·  Link
    Submitted February 20th 2010

    Thanks for these nice comments...

    "Soft Hackle & Chickabou" is quiet rare, as I already wrote in the article. But for example, there are some for sale on eBay at the moment (also in black color). The eBay-Shop is called "1A Fly Materials and Fishing Flies". You have to be a bit careful in shopping these items online, because the quality can be extremely different.

    From: John Taylor · johnrtaylor·at·  Link
    Submitted February 20th 2010

    Easily the best tied Woolly Bugger I have seen and an excellent article. Just one question; where can you source the black Whiting Soft Hackle w/Chickabou from?

    From: Anders · anders.albertsen·at·  Link
    Submitted February 12th 2010

    Great article.. and a very nice fly box! Neatly arranged!

    Makes me wanna test in on the danish coast, when the ice vanishes.. Big trouts are waiting for the fly ;-)

    From: Klaus Reuter · klaus.reuter·at·  Link
    Submitted February 10th 2010

    Superb article!
    Now you are in the same league as Stephan Dombaj...

    From: Laimonas · laimonas·at·  Link
    Submitted February 10th 2010

    Align-quiet :)
    Looks great...

    From: Cornelis · Corneel77·at·  Link
    Submitted February 9th 2010

    wow , this makes you want to run to your vice....very nice article. ( and yes what fish does not like a wooly bugger.)

    From: rybolov · rybolov·at·  Link
    Submitted February 8th 2010

    I like the barred chickabou effect. That looks really nice.

    From: Kelvin Kleinman · pugetsoundflatwing·at·  Link
    Submitted February 8th 2010

    great looking box!

    Comment to an image
    From: Sarunas_St · sarunasst·at·  Link
    Submitted February 9th 2010

    It looks like a different football fans in one stadium, or different army soldiers!

    Comment to an image
    From: Phil · pwagc1·at·  Link
    Submitted August 26th 2013

    Does anyone know where to get Rouven Kempkes-Warrior Lures?

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