Howell's Strawberry Blonde Bugger

For years as I guide I fished the Clouser Foxee Minnow with great success in high clear water situations.  However I often found myself wanting a fly that would push more water and make a little more disturbance.  I would often switch to wooly buggers in the traditional colors which would work but the fish seemed to like the mottled tan, brown and cream color combination on the Foxee Minnow better.  When tying variegated girdle bugs one night I got the inspiration to tie a variegated woolly bugger.  The first prototypes featured a ginger tail and variegated brown/yellow chenille body with a brown hackle.  With the fish showing some interest in the new color bugger color I kept experimenting until.  The best color combination that proved to be the brown and yellow body with a dark barred ginger hackle and tail of ginger, brown and cream marabou.  I often fished the fly on a sinking line.  But with clients having a difficult time fishing the sinking line, I ended up adding a large tungsten bead to the fly,  as most guides tying flies the night before a trip sometimes you use what happens to be lying around the bench.  So the only tungsten beads I had handy we black and red.  I tied up a couple of Strawberry Blondes for with each bead color to my surprise the addition of the red bead really seemed to improve the catch rate of the fly.  It was out fishing the black and later gold beads at a rate of at least two to one.

The Strwaberry Blonde has proven highly effective on Trout and on Smallmouth bass and the occasional Perca in Argentina.  For trout I have found the size 6 and 8 the most effective, while the bass prefer the size 4 and 6.  In smaller streamers the size 10 and 12 will produce a lot of trout.

I have been using the Strawberry Blonde for about three years and it has proven to catch fish all over the world.  While originally designed to be fished in the clear tailwaters of the southeast.  I have successfully fished the Strawberry Blonde all over the US, as well as Canada, Argentina and Chile.  I have yet to find an incorrect way to fish the fly.  The best results have been by using a strip and pause with most of the fish taking the fly on the pause as it slowly sinks.  I have also had clients fish the fly on the swing with great success as well as fish the smaller sizes under an indicator dead drifting it as if it were a nymph.

The Strawberry Blonde offers the effectiveness of a Wolly Bugger  in a totally new color matrix that the fish have not seen yet.

Tying Directions 


Hook:  DRO 7041 or equal            

Thread:  Veevus 6/0 Brown or equal

Bead:  Metallic Red Tungsten to match hook size

Wire:  Lead wire for underbody .020 or greater

Rib:  Extra Small Copper Wire

Flash:  Pearl Krystal Flash

Tail:  Brown and ginger Marabou

Body Material:  Yellow and Brown variegated chenille

Hackle:  Barred medium ginger

Tying Directions:

Step 1.  Place bead on the hook and place the hook in the vice.

Step 2.  Start thread on hook shank; be sure bead is all the way forward to the eye.  Make a small thread base from mid hook shank to behind bead.  Make 4-10 turns of .020 lead wire behind the bead.  (Note:  Use 4 wraps to hold the bead in place add more wraps to achieve a quicker sinking fly.)

Step 3.  Over wrap the lead wraps with thread to secure them in place.  Move thread to rear of hook shank directly above the barb.  Tie in 4-6 strands of pearl krystal flash hanging to the rear of the hook.  Take several strands of Ginger and Brown marabou roll them together between thumb and forefinger.  Once mixed together tie them marabou in for a tail rolling them around the Krystal flash.  Tail should extend back off of the fly for about the length of the hook shank.  Clip off excess material.

Step 4.  Strip off a small amount of chenille to reveal the core of the chenille.  Tie in the Core of the chenille at the same point the marabou is tied in.  At this same location tie in a piece of extra small copper wire.  Also tie in one barred medium ginger hackle by the tip end.

Step 5.  Bring thread forward to the just behind the bead.  Wrap chenille forward, tie off and clip off excess.  Palmer hackle forward to just behind bead.  Make 1-2 extra turns of hackle just behind the bead, tie off hackle and clip off excess. 

Step 6.  Counter wrap the wire rib forward to the thread, tie off and clip excess.  (Note:  This step can be omitted, but it does help build a more durable fly.)