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How to Make Fresh-Water Spin Bugs

Oct 9, 2007
One of the most effective lures for black bass in fresh water is the so-called "bass bug" which is used with a fly rod. However, these bugs are too light to cast with a casting or spinning rod. But the angler who wants to use such tackle can easily make bass bugs which are heavy enough to cast.

Such lures (which I will call "spin bugs" to separate them from the regular cork or plastic "bass bugs") should weight at least 1/4 oz. or a bit more to cast well. They are usually bulky, having hair or feathers which hold them back during the cast.

Spin bugs or bass bugs are usually made to resemble some kind of insect or bug which has fallen into the water. These are generally such big insects as dragonflies, butterflies, moths, beetles, and grasshoppers. Such insects float and kick around on top of the water, so spin bugs which do the same are the best fish-getters. However, some of these lures are also made to resemble minnows, small fish, or frogs.

The simplest type of spin bug one can make is a small popping bug. The spin bugs are much smaller, shorter, and have fewer hooks. And they will have hair or feathers added to imitate the legs or wings of a bug or insect.

The popping spin bug can be made from soft, light wood such as cedar or basswood. It should be about 11/2 in. long and 7/8 in. in diameter. The head slants downward at the regular 45-degree angle. You need two small screw-eyes and one treble hook to finish this bug. One screw eye goes at the head for the fishing line, while the other one holds the treble hook at the tail.

The screw eyes and hooks should be smaller than those used for regular fresh-water plugs; a No. 2 or No. 4 treble hook is a good size to use. The hooks should be sharp, fine-wire types of the best quality. You'll hook more fish with needle-sharp hooks than with dull, cheap ones.

Before the treble hook is put on the screw eye it should be wound with bucktail hair. First cut your bucktail hair so that it is only slightly longer than the shank of the hook. Next, get some fly-tying thread and make a few turns with it around the hook shank near the eye. Now form three or four pinches of the bucktail hair and have them ready.

Take one of the pinches of bucktail, lay it against the hook shank and wind several turns of thread around it. To make the wings of the spin bug which project from the sides, use buck-tail or other hair. Take two pinches of the bucktail and wrap the butts tightly with fly-tying thread.

Then dip or dab the windings with clear, waterproof cement. After they dry, drill two holes in the wood body of the bug, one on each side. When you do this, make sure that the holes are just big enough to take the butts of the bucktail wings snugly. In other words, it should be a tight fit.

Then dip the butts of the wings in clear cement and insert them into the holes. You can also force a drop or two of the cement into the holes with a stick or brush. When the cement dries the bucktail wings will be held firmly in place.

Finish off the wrapping with more turns. Add another pinch of bucktail next to the first one and wind some thread around it. Keep doing this until the hook shank is completely covered. Bind it with a whip finish or a series of half hitches. Then coat the thread wrapping with fly-tying cement or with one of the clear, quick-drying cements which come in tubes.

With one of these spin bugs on the end of your line, you should enjoy success every time.
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