It could well be argued that no fly patterns has accounted for more fish than the woolly booger. It enjoys a cult like following among fly fisherman, and even some spin fishermen, and has inspired more spin-offs than a 1970’s hit sitcom. Many beginners ask, why is the woolly booger so popular? Some would say the memorable name drives the woolly booger’s popularity. Other would point to the simple nature of the pattern, or its’ versatility. While those all may be contributing factors, the popularity of the woolly booger is undoubtedly driven in large part by its’ fish catching ability.
The woolly booger is a very simple pattern; a woolly hackle and chenille body with a fluffy marabou tail that comes alive in the water. They are tied in all sizes, from a #12 or #14 micro-booger to large #2 or even bigger. They are often weighted with a beadhead, or a conehead in larger sizes. The woolly booger is effective for all species of trout, salmon, steelhead, black bass, sunfish, crappie, temperate basses, perch, and pretty much any other sportfish imaginable.
Woolly boogers can be slowly stripped like a leech or crawfish, dead drifted in the current like a large nymph, or danced across a pool like a minnow or baitfish. This versatility makes it extremely useful for a beginner still mastering a drag free drift. A dry fly or small nymph requires an excellent drift, and any noticeable drag will cause the fly to look unnatural. This unnatural drift will rarely tempt a wily trout. A woolly booger however is so large it represents a prey item that could potentially fight against the current. The poor drift simply looks like a struggling prey item wiggling and swimming in the current. For that reason a lackluster drift will still often prove productive, shortening the learning curve for anglers still struggling with line control.
If you ever find yourself asking what fly to use, it’s hard to go wrong with the woolly booger. Natural colors, such as olive, black, and brown will almost always catch fish. Selecting the size and color based on the forage present in your local streams will improve your success. And of course, to ensure you have the right flies at the right time, check out our Match the Hatch Subscription.