Warmwater Fly of the month: March, 2002 - The Bully Spider



Terry and Roxanne Wilson
Have had articles pertaining to fly fishing for bluegill, largemouth and smallmouth bass, crappie, channel catfish and shortnose gar appearing in many national magazines including: Fly Fishing and Fly Tying Journal, Warmwater Fly Fishing, Fly Fishing Quarterly, Bassmaster, Ontario Out Doors, Popular Flyfishing and the Flyfisher. Their first book, Bluegill Fly Fishing & Flies, was published in 1999. Largemouth Bass Fly Fishing, Beyond the Basics, is their second book. Terry and Roxanne are life members of the Federation of Fly Fishers.

Fishing Bully Flies
The best characteristic of the Bully is that it is easy to fish. When it drops in a vertical free fall, the legs wiggle seductively. Of ten this is the only action necessary to attract and entice bluegills. There are, however, several retrieves we have found effective under a wide variety of conditions and fish moods. It is best to try a little of each until the bluegills indicate their preference.

By pinning the fly line to the rod with the index finger of your rod hand, it is possible to pull or strip line toward you. Two-inch strips followed by pauses of varying lengths are very effective. The quick, darting movements caused by the short strip causes the rubber legs to lurch back along the body, then, just as abruptly, return to their original angle. Each time, water movement is created which causes the flexible legs to continue to quiver slightly, even after the action has ceased. Usually the strike occurs during the pause following the strip.

Strips of six inches are effect when bluegills are especially active and in a chasing mood. The longer the strip seems to simulate a food trying to escape and the competitive nature of the bluegill is stimulated by this action.
Longer strips of a foot or more, given almost continually, are surprisingly effective when slowly falling flies are ignored. While the number of occasions is comparatively few, it is still a valuable retire to keep in mind. We discovered it accidentally by reeling in a long cast after an evening of slow action. We can only speculate that the same escaping-prey theory applies to this situation also. Our records suggest that fish responding to this tactic usually are widely scattered and not related closely to the usual structure. It is also seems these periods occur at the end of several days of stable weather.

(Permission granted by the authors to reprint the Fishing for Bully Flies and for the fly tying instructions from their book: Bluegill Fly Fishing & Flies published by Frank Amato Publications)


Hook: Mustad 94840 or equivalent. Standard dry-fly hook, 8-12. Mash down the Barb.
Thread: Danville's 6/0 monocard or equivalent. Use color to match the body.
Underbody: .020 lead wire or equivalent.
Body: Medium chenille
Wings: Two piece of 1 7/8 medium, round, rubber hackle trimmed after the fly is completed to equal lengths. After trimming, each leg is about 7/8-inch in length if tied on a size 10.
Head: Taper, double whip-finished.

(Click on picture to enlarge)

Step 1: Attached the thread just above the hook of the barb and wind it forward along the shank to the point at which the fly head will begin. Then, wrap back along the shank to the point where the thread was attached. This simple, but important procedure gives the hook shank a rough finish which will hold.

Step 2: Lay a piece of lead wire or other material equal weight density along the top, and parallel to, the hook shank and extenting to with in one wire length width of the thread position. This will enable the final wrap of the lead to miss the first line of wire, thereby creatinga smoother body base. Wrap tying thread foward to the end on the lead wire and returning it to the startng point. This will enable the wire to be held in place very securely.


Step 3: Wrap the lead wire away from you around the hook shank. Three wraps should be made within the back half of the shank. This will aid the fly in drifting downward tail-first at a forty-five-degree angle to the surface for maximum leg movement.
One transitional wrap should position the wire at the end of the thread and final wrap should occur off the edge of the lead line.

Step 4: Now, using your dullest scissors, nip the lead wire at an angle. This creates a thin-angled lead end which can be neatly pressed around the hook.
Step 5: Strip 1/8 inch of the chenille end leaving exposed thread to allow for a less bulky attachment to the hook. Attached the chenille end just behind the beginning of the lead wrap at the hook bend. Wrap forward completely being careful to totally cover the lead.
Step 6: Next, place your thumbnail on top of the hook shank immediately behind the eye and apply pressure to compress the lead and chenille back toward the hook bend just far enough to allow for the wing attachment and the head. The construction of the lead wire allowed for this process to be completed with little effort, and has created a solid base against which we will trap the rubber legs.


Step 7: Cut two pieces of rubber hackle to approximately 1 7/8 inches. Stack the rubber hackle so that one strand is clearly on top the other, holding them between your thumb and index fingers while pinching then to the hook shank. Using the pitching technique, wrap the thread at the edge of the chenille, making two to three wraps to secure. Make another two to three wraps just in front on the rubber hackle.


Step 8: Release your pinching grip on the rubber hackle and once again use your thumbnail along the top of the hook shank to compress the rubber hackle back against the chenille. If the rubber legs have been tightly trapped between the chenille and the head we are about to build, they should stand out about ninety degrees from the shank. If they are not in the right position, you can get them there by tugging gently on individual legs and also by laying a line of thread either behind or in front of the direction taken by the offending leg or legs. The legs are, at this point, infinitely adjustable by laying a line of thread behind, in front of, or between the legs for support

Step 9: Build the thread in a generally tapered manner and double whip finish. Cut the thread at the head and trim the legs to equal and desired length using your thumb and index fingers as general guides. Use no head cement, bluegills evaluate their food very carefully. The finished fly resembles a spider.