The stalking bug is a pattern that has been around for decades and, like most styles of fly, is constantly evolving as we update and tweak it with the latest materials coming on to the market. From a fly-tying perspective, the stalking bug is a great example of the art of ‘simplicity’. Too often we fly tyers can be found guilty of overcomplicating a pattern, by adding too much detail and intricacies that are no doubt completely ignored by the fish!
Stalking Bug Basics
With the stalking bug, the ‘less is more’ approach to fly tying definitely reigns supreme as we focus on the key elements of why the fly works: movement, colour and shape. The most popular style of stalking bug includes a short tuft-tail, usually marabou, to provide lifelike movement to the fly. With colour, we are literally spoilt for choice with the vast range of ultra-bright synthetic flosses around today – all of which give us the opportunity to create endless colour combinations. The most successful are usually the bright yellows, whites and pinks, with the Cat Bug, taking the Cat’s Whisker lure as its base, being one of the most popular colour combinations.
The shape of stalking bugs usually follows a general Tadpole-like profile with a tapered body, or they can be small and grub-like, like the Bead Bug.
Weighting is another key factor to consider when one is tying stalking bugs. It’s essential to get your fly down to the depth that the fish are patrolling at. This is particularly important if you are fishing the ‘bung method’ – arguably the most effective way of fishing with stalking bugs. There are various ways in which you can add weight to a fly. You can use lead wire as an underbody or opt for a head weight in the form of either brass or heavier tungsten beads. With the latter, brass and tungsten beads with their different sink rates open up some useful options for us.
If there is a strong wind or current, a tungsten-beaded stalking bug will sink quickly and hold its depth when drifting under a bung. On the other hand, a slightly lighter brass-bead stalking bug will sink more slowly and can often be very effective if you want to fish your flies through various depths to try to locate the trout first. You can now get brass and tungsten beads in all the key fluorescent colours as opposed to just the standard metallic colours, therefore I usually opt for a fluorescent colour to match that of the body I’m tying.