The Devil Bug (known by more devout folk as the “Doodle Bug”) was originally designed by Orley C. Tuttle in the second decade of the 1900s as a beetle imitation, with which he caught smallmouth bass on his home lake in the Adirondacks of upstate New York. By the 1920s, Tuttle was selling an astonishing 50,000 bugs per year, in a variety of colors and sizesa testament to the pattern’s ability to fool almost any fish that swims.
Coincidentally, the Devil Bug is the first fly I ever tied. It was taught to me by fellow guide Jim Thibodeau when we worked together at Hubbard’s Yellowstone Lodge in 1994. After I tied the fly, Jim and I went down to the Yellowstone to fish it. After about ten minutes of drifting the Devil Bug through good water to no avail, I decided that the pattern was useless. As I was searching through my fly box, I allowed the Devil Bug to drag in the water behind me. To my surprise, a 17-inch brown trout ate the fly while I wasn’t even paying attention to it. Now I fish the Devil Bug with action almost all the time.
In this great video from Tightline Productions, Tim Flagler walks you through the steps to tie a Devil Bug. He also describes several ways to fish it, although he left out one of my favorites: stripping the fly underwater at the end of a long drift.
Hook: Standard dry-fly hook (here a Dai-Riki #300), sizes 8-18.
Thread: Brown, 8/0 or 70 denier.
Tail/Back/head: Natural deer hair, cleaned and stacked.
Body: Red dry-fly dubbing.
Adhesive: Head cement or Sally Hansen Hard-As-Nails.
Note: Try the pattern in different colors, both natural and
Some devil-themed tunes: