Fly of the Month – Pumpkin Bugger

From the October/November 2016 newlsetter
by Patrick Welch

During the cold dark winter of 2002 in Valdez, Alaska, I was looking for a pattern to fish the interior lakes near Chitina. When the ice goes out in May, the rainbows in these lakes can be very aggressive. If you haven’t had something to eat for six months, you would be hungry too. After some experimentation, I ended up with an attractor pattern that seemed to be very effective in these lakes. After three years of experimentation, I completed what I call the Pumpkin Bugger, basically a wooly bugger with a bead head.

I have had lots of success trolling this fly off the back of my pontoon boat. A five weight rod loaded with a sink tip line and about six feet of 4x leader worked pretty well. Sometimes, I just secure the oars to the pontoon boat and cast the sink tip line out and use a slow retrieve with occasional stops.

In October 2009, I was fishing close to the tail out of the Kiddie Pool in the San Juan River. I decided to tie on a Pumpkin Bugger and swing it through the tail out. I felt a large jolt, and the struggle was on. After about a ten minute battle, I finally put a 21″ rainbow in the net. Where was my camera when I needed it?

List of Materials: Be flexible. If you don’t have exactly what the list of materials calls for, substitute something else.

pumpkin-bugger-fly.jpgHook: Tiemco 200R # 10 or 12
Thread: black ultra thread 70
Head: bright bead 1/8″, copper or gold
Weight: optional
Tail: black and orange rabbit fur or Marabou about half as long as the body; a few strands of copper Krystal Flash
Body: chenille – New Age Chenille dark dhocolate # 2, or New Age chenille # 2 in a brown variegated pattern, or copper, gold, black # 29 chenille
Hackle: Black (Optional) the fish don’t care

Slide a bead down the shank of the hook and let it stop at the eye. Attach the thread directly behind the bead head, make several wraps to secure it, and wrap the thread to the bend of the hook. If you are going to weight this fly, now would be a good time to add that material, just bring the thread to the back of the hook above the barb. Take a piece of black rabbit fur or marabou and lay that on top of the shank of the hook right above the barb. Now, place a piece of orange rabbit fur or marabou on top of the black and tie them down with several wraps of thread. Add a few strands of copper Krystal Flash. Doesn’t hurt to put a very small drop of glue on top of the thread wraps. Strip about 1/8th inch of material from the end of the piece of chenille and attach it to the wraps of fur/marabou. If you want to use hackle on this fly, tie it on top of the little strand of chenille. Wrap the chenille forward up to the bead and tie it off. Wind the hackle around the body of the fly and wrap it forward to just behind the bead. Take a few wraps of thread around the hackle and chenille in back of the bead to make sure it is secure. Whip finish and apply some cement to those wraps in back of the bead.