Bow River Bugger



The Bow River Bugger is a staple streamer for freshwater fish that eat baitfish.  This pattern comes from Southern Alberta and Peter Chenier is credited with designing it.  The fly can be tied in numerous variations including all Wooly Bugger variants, to mimic your local baitfish, and with or without weight.  Also depending on how it is tied it can be fished dead drifted, swung or stripped  Simply stated the Bow River Bugger is a Wooly Bugger with a deer hair head and collar, but big fish sure love it.  Here is a recipe for a JJ Special variant so try spinning up one or a version of your own.


  • Hook: Daiichi 1750
  • Thread: Danville’s 3/0
  • Tail: Marabou rootbeer over yellow
  • Flash: Krystal flash
  • Rib: Medium copper wire
  • Hackle: Bugger  grizzley hackle
  • Body: Medium chenille (I’m using black barred burnt orange)
  • Legs: Yellow barred
  • Collar & Head: Natural deer hair

Bow River Bugger 148

Start by securing the hook in the vice and begin your thread base leaving approximately 1/3  of the shank bare and advance the thread to the bend.

Bow River Bugger 004

Tie in one yellow marabou plume for the tail that is one hook shank in length.  Tie the marabou to the point you started your thread to create some body.

Bow River Bugger 016

Next tie in a few strands of krystal flash on top of the marabou.  I double a strand of krystal flash around the thread and pinch the loose ends together.  Then use the thread to draw the flash to the point you want to tie in and secure with a few wraps.

Bow River Bugger 034

Now you will tie in one plume of rootbeer marabou (colors like ginger work fine too) the same length or a little longer than the yellow plume.

Bow River Bugger 051

The next step is to tie in the wire rib followed by chenille.

Bow River Bugger 063

Advance your thread to the point where the marabou was tied off and tie in the hackle by the butt.

Bow River Bugger 073

Now wrap the chenille up to the hackle and tie it off and cut the excess.

Bow River Bugger 081

Next palmer the hackle to the tail of the fly and when you reach the tail grab the wire while still holding the hackle tight and make 2-3 wraps with the wire to secure the hackle and then wrap it forward to where the hackle was tied in and tie off and cut or break off the excess.

Bow River Bugger 098

Tie in the legs right over the spot the wire was tied off at

Bow River Bugger 119

To make the head stack a generous clump of deer hair in a stacker to align the tips to form the collar and then spin the clump of stacked hair.  Continue spinning deer hair (you don’t have to stack the rest) to the eye of the hook.  Then you can whip finish and cut the thread off.

Bow River Bugger 143

Finally trim the deer hair into a sculpin shape using a razor scissors or both.