Rubber Bugger
  |  First Published: March 2007

Bass fishing is very popular in SEQ thanks to all of the state’s impoundments and waterways. When the flyfishing boom hit a decade ago, new patterns were developed and old patterns were altered. Impoundments anglers can fish everywhere from steep rocky banks to thick weed and water lily beds to deep flats. This month’s pattern, the Rubber Bugger, is a cross between a Woolly Bugger, a Bass Buggerer and a Woolly Worm.

Bass flies must be able to move around in the water. The Rubber Bugger has a marabou tail, a prominent eye and lots of rubber protrusions, which provide lots of movement with minimal effort from the angler.

The materials used in this fly are standard and can be found in any store that has tying gear. The body is made from Super Salt chenille, which comes in a variety of styles and colours. I use midnight black as it glimmers and silhouettes well against the dull backdrop of weed beds, rock walls and submerged timber. The style and weight of the eye can be varied, depending on water depth and the action you want from the fly.

The Tiewell Tungsten Twin Eyes have an offset stem, so the pupils can sit level with the hook shank instead of on one side of it. Tungsten eyes are also much stronger and heavier than the usual lead or white metal dumbbell eyes and are also non-toxic. The rubber ribbing is Tiewell Rubber Legs, a material that comes in a sheet that you just peel off, as you need them. These come in several colours for varied effects. I use a stinger pattern hook with the Gamakatsu B10S but similar patterns are also available from Mustad, Tiemco and other manufacturers.


The Rubber Bugger has a lot of action in the water, which is great for enticing hesitant fish. It can imitate a struggling insect when sinking vertically and given the occasional twitch. This approach is deadly on bass and saratoga but I have also tempted silver perch, golden perch and several other species.

Another way to work the Rubber Bugger is to give it a long strip, allowing it to sink and then giving it another long single strip. This darting retrieve is very effective around columns of weed, especially in Maroon Dam. When fishing a hard bottom or a slowly sloping bank, allow the fly to sink to the bottom and then strip it back a few inches of line at a time. This makes it shuffle along the bottom like a little crayfish or shrimp which golden perch, silver perch and freshwater jewfish (Tandanus catfish) and other species can’t resist.


(1) Place the hook in the vice and attach the thread with a jamb knot behind the eye of the hook. Lay down a bed of thread for 5mm behind the hook eye and then attach the tungsten eyes, allowing gravity to position them, with a series of figure of eights just a millimetre or two behind the eye of the hook. Attach the end of your Super Salt chenille just behind the tungsten eyes.

(2) Palmer (wrap) the thread back along the hook shank until it’s opposite to the point of the hook. Cut some of the softest section of marabou (at least as long as the hook) and tie in as a tail.

(3) Wrap the thread forward along the shank of the hook until you are back up to the eye of the fly, then allow the bobbin to just hang there. Palmer the chenille along the length of the hook shank, until you are down to the marabou. Wrap the chenille around the marabou tie in point then allow it to just hang there.

(4) Take some 8-10cm strips of Rubber Legs and tie around the chenille and hook shank at equal intervals and varying positions along the length of the shank. You can do as many as you like but 6 to 10 strands are usually ample.

(5) Wrap the chenille back along the hook shank towards the eye of the fly, making sure you don’t overwrap any of the rubber legs. You are just wrapping between them, making them appear to sprout from within the chenille body. Wrap between the tungsten eye with a figure of eight and tie off the end of the chenille with the thread in the tiny gap between the eye of the hook and the eye of the fly.

(6) Trim off the ends of the legs so that they stand up of their own accord and adjust so that they are protruding at all angles around the fly. Adding an adhesive eye to the end of the Tungsten Eye will really bring the fly to life. Add a little vinyl cement to the tie off point for strength, and the fly is now finished. Try it out on bass, saratoga or other natives. I’m sure you will be a Rubber Bugger lover soon also.


HOOK:Gamakatsu B10S size 2
THREAD:Flat-waxed nylon black
BODY:Super Salt Chenille midnight black
RIBBING:Tiewell Rubber Legs black
TAIL:Marabou black
EYE:Tiewell Tungsten Twin Eyes black 4mm
PUPIL: Self-adhesive 2mm glow with black pupil
FINISH: Head cement
Reads: 517

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