Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Buffalo Bug

While fishing the Gardner River this summer in Yellowstone National Park I observed a lot of buffalo under fur in the sage brush around the river.  When I returned from my trip and was putting away my gear I observed a small amount of this fur jammed into the corner of my pack's waist belt.  It must snagged there while we were busting through some heavy brush on our way down to the river.  This particular area was loaded with clumps of fur hanging off the brush so I am guessing that is where it came from.

I was just about to dump it into the trash when it dawned on me to try and use it in a fly pattern.  The fur in its original form consisted of long crinkled hairs with a light brown color.  I don't know if this the original color or if it was bleached out somewhat by the sun.  I raked out the bits of debris that where present, gave it a course chop with a pair of scissors and through it in my fur blender (AKA my wife's missing coffee blender) and gave it a whirl.  I threw it in a tiny baggie and forgot about it until it resurfaced a few days ago.

My original thoughts were to mix it with another fur since it did not look like it would dub very  well on its own.   I tried it straight up and discovered I was dead wrong, it goes on thread (even unwaxed thread) like a dream.  It produced a very buggy looking thorax on the first fly I tied.  I liked the way it came out but I'm not the one eating it.

I had an opportunity to fish it this past weekend and it performed like a champ.  I tied the pattern in two versions, one for clear water and one with a splash of color for off color or high water conditions.  Flows were running a little high and clear and takes by the fish were about fifty/fifty, so they are both keepers.

The Buffalo Bug

Hook:  TMC 100SP-BL
Bead:  Montana Fly Lucent 7/64" Coffee
Thread:  Uni 8/0 Camel
Tail: Wood duck flank feather fibers
Ribbing:  Fine gold wire
Abdomen: DK Quill Body 02
Thorax:  Gardner River Valley Buffalo underfur dubbing
Hot Spot: Optional - band of hot orange thread behind the bead

I'm now experimenting with the addition of wing cases of different types.  So far a pearl and green flash material is showing promise.

My only dilema is the miniscule amount of material that I have.  I'll be lucky to get a couple dozen flies out of it if I'm lucky.  When it's gone it's gone!


  1. Nice fly. Just a note to your readers, whenever you collect a specimen from the wild it is a good idea to throw it into the freezer to kill any mites or bugs hanging on.

  2. Is that a brownish DK quill body? If so, where did you get it? I've only been able to find graphite and the pearl/purplish one.