Byron’s Bass Bugger is different in many ways from those you usually purchase. In 2011, I lost the largest smallmouth bass I ever hooked due to a hook malfunction. I was sick. The point of the streamer hook bent toward the hook shank. This massive smallmouth bass was lost.
I caught this bass you see here using a black Wooly Bugger. We weighed the fish before releasing it. She weighed exactly 5 pounds. I am convinced, more than ever, “a Wooly Bugger is the best subsurface fly for smallmouth bass”. So, I decided to make the best smallmouth bass wooly bugger I could and Byron’s Bass Bugger is the end result.
This fly is tied on a Gamakatsu B10 S stinger hook. I think this is the perfect bass hook. The wide gape and shape are conducive to hooking and holding a hard fighting smallmouth bass. Kent Edmonds uses this hook for his famous Stealth Bomber. I use the same hook on Byron’s Knucklehead. I tie this fly using a #4 hook.
The shank of the hook is wrapped with 18 wraps of .020 non-toxic lead free wire. This design feature allows the fly to descend horizontally in the water column without adding extra weight. Attaching split shot to your tippet causes two problems. First, it weakens the tippet where it is pinched on. Also, it causes the fly to dip and dive when it is retrieved, something I believe is unnatural. You could tie this fly with a weighted bead, placing most of the weight close to the eye of the hook. I would rather have that weight distributed along the length of the fly, so it descends realistically.
Byron’s Bass Bugger is tied using high quality Whiting Farms hackle. The hackle is tied in and wrapped flat, causing the fibers to protrude from the body at varying angles. I like that buggy look and I think they work better if tied this way.
Finally, I finish the head using a coat of Z-Poxy 30 minute, non-yellowing epoxy. Then the fly is turned on a rotary dryer until the epoxy sets. You could tie a Wooly Bugger on a cheap hook, with no weight and low quality hackle. I’m not going to do that with a fly I am personally tying for you, or one I plan to use myself. I want the best of everything. I want to catch a smallmouth bass of a lifetime and when I do, it will probably be caught on this fly.
Like Jack says, “These smallmouth bass in East Tennessee like two colors, black and blacker”. This fly is only offered in black. A weedless version is also available or will be soon. I can easily fly fish with Byron’s Bass Bugger using a 6 weight fly rod. You will do fine with a 5 weight or 7 weight. I would opt for the 6 or 7. Byron’s Bass Bugger is proudly tied in Townsend, Tennessee USA by me.