Tying the Girdle Bug by Steve Yates
The Rubber legged girdle bug is one of Montana's legendary trout flies. Like so many flies I prefer these days, this version is simple to tie, and is very durable. It was designed to imitate large stonefly nymphs, hellgrammites, and craneflies. It was thought to have been first used by the local anglers on the Big Hole River. Lost in the murky currents of time however is the original name of the girdle bug.
Back in the 1930s and '40s, it was called the "McGinnis rubberlegs," after its creator, Frank McGinnis of Anaconda. The McGinnis clan plied the waters of the Big Hole often enough to call it their "family river." And Frank McGinnis' homely pattern gained fame far and wide for fooling the river's renowned lunker rainbows and browns.
It is a large and heavily weighted nymph designed to be fished by tumbling it along the stream bottom. It can be tied in a variety of colors but the black chenille body and white rubber legs are thought to be the original dressing. I like to fish this fly on a short, stout leader with additional weight added to the leader as needed to get it down along the stream bed. Its size makes it a tempting meal during this time of year when trout are less actively feeding. The appeal of rubber leg nymphs should not be overlooked. I tie many of my standard patterns using them. A slight pumping of the rod to exacerbate the movement of the rubber legs as the nymph dead drifts along the bottom can on occasion entice strikes from even the most lethargic fish.
Hook: Mustad 79580 sz 6
Thread: Uni 6/0 Black
Weight: .025 lead wire
Tail: White med rubber legs
Body: Black med chenille
Legs: White med rubber legs
Antennae: White med rubber legs