Published Mar 15. 2009 - 15 years ago
Updated or edited Feb 18. 2019

The Copper Bully

No sea trout box should be without a small Gammerus imitation, and the Copper Bully is one of the most efficient and easily tied ones. Consisting of very few materials in this version, it hardly gets any easier. It can also be a scud or a cress bug in a tight spot.

The Copper Bully - Kobberbassen - A simple fly, an efficient fly
The Copper Bully
Martin Joergensen

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 (English: The Copper Bully) was conceived by Frank Jensen in 1996 while Kobberlusen (English: 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 seascape - The small bugs, which the Copper Bully imitates, are extremely abundant in the sea weed in the shallow water
A gammarus day - Clear water, bright sun, some movement in the shallows. A great day to fish a gammarus imitation
Ide and the Copper Bully - this ide (Leuciscus idus) was caught on a Copper Bully in very shallow, clear water.
Copper Bully fish - This sea trout fell for a fairly large and fluffy Copper Bully
Copper Bully fish - Copper Bully water
Henning Eskol - Jens Groenlund - Martin Joergensen

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.

What we're imitating - Small, copper colored bunches with things sticking out. There's no reason to be subtle when imitating these animals. A simple copper body will do fine.
Da real thaing - A larger-than-average scud from the Baltic. These animals are very abundant and stable food for sea trout.
The natural
Kasper Mühlbach

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
Pattern type: 
Cold saltwater fly
Frank Jensen
Short shank wet fly, #8-10
Tying thread
Red, orange or rusty brown 6/0
A few short straws of Krystal Flash
Copper wire
Copper Lite Brite or Angel Hair
Tying thread
Skill level/difficulty: 
Very easy
See picture series

Step 1 - start the thread

Step 2 - tail material

Step 3 - trim tail

Step 4 - wind thread forward

Step 5 - Tie in rib

Step 6 - Rib done

Step 7 - Dub the thread

Step 8 - Start dubbing

Step 9 - Body

Step 10 - Finish body

Step 11 - Finished body

Step 12 - Tease

Step 13 - Wind the rib

Step 14 - Trim the wire

Step 15 - Head

Step 16 - Whip finish

Step 17 - Tease again

Step 18 - Adjust dubbing

Step 19 - Varnish

Translucent - The fine dubbing can be teased out to give the fly a very translucent look
Teasing out the copper dubbing gives a nice translucency
Martin Joergensen





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