The Zug Bug was one of the first flies I ever purchased when I started fly fishing, part of a selection that also included such stand-bys as the Hare’s Ear Nymph and the Pheasant Tail Nymph. The guys behind the counter at my local fly shop assured me that the Zug Bug would slay the brookies on our local ponds, and they were right. The pattern has also produced for me on big Eastern rivers, as well as on the brawling Yellowstone River in Paradise Valley.
Created in the 1930s by angler and tier Cliff Zug of West Lawn, Pennsylvania, the Zug Bug was promoted by Arnold Gingrich in his popular articles and became a go-to fly from the Catskills to the Sierras. The fly was designed to imitate a caddis larva, but it also features an all-around bugginess that makes it work as an attractor, as well. I often fish it as a dropper below a beadhead nymph, which helps get the fly to the bottom.
I this great video from Tightline Productions, clear step-by-step instruction from author and blogger Matt Grobert will have you tying this pattern in no time. As usual, Grobert has a few tricks up his sleeve, such as the way he leaves a long tag end when he ties in the thread, and then uses that tag to secure the peacock-herl body. The man also wraps a near-perfect head, which is something I sometimes struggle to do.
Hook: 2X-long nymph hook (e.g. Dai-Riki #730), sizes 14–16.
First Thread: Black, 6/0.
Tails: Peacock herl.
Rib: Silver tinsel.
Body: Peacock herl.
Legs: Hen hackle.
Wing case: Mallard or wood-duck flank feather.
Head: Tying thread.