A FLY FOR ALL SEASONS
I stepped into the river below a deep pool and cast upstream to the head of the pool. The line fell gently on the water with a curve to the right, keeping the leader away from the fly. The fly floated high and dry for a few feet and WHAM, a beautiful rainbow trout. A short time later I threw a quartering upstream cast. The fly drifted just below the surface, another rainbow rose from the bottom and sucked in the fly. Later I moved to another pool. This time I cast across the pool and let the fly sink. A slow retrieve produced a nice brook trout. Next I cast downstream, at the end of the swing a small salmon that had followed the fly hit it like it was going to be his last meal. If you assume, as any fisherman naturally would, that I changed from a dry fly, to a nymph dead drifted, to a streamer fished across the current, to drifting a classic wet fly, you would be wrong. They all came quite willingly to one fly.
The fly is called the Cooper Bug. I first read about this fly in a book titled “The Sportsman’s Notebook and Tap’s Tips” by H. G. Tapply. In the book he points out its resemblance to the Tuttle Devil Bug. In Maine they call the fly the Doodle Bug, and tie it in many horrible color combinations. The Cooper Bug also has some of the characteristics of the equally famous Muddler Minnow. The Muddler Minnow and the popular Hornberg can also be fished wet or dry. For me the Cooper Bug is a confidence fly. I fish it in both rivers and ponds. I know I can tie it on and catch a fish if there are any around.
The original recipe calls for a peacock herl body and deer hair. The deer hair is tied in at the head of the hook, just behind the eye, and then tied down tightly at the bend of the hook forming a hump over the body. Clip the hair close around the head and push back the short ends so you can get the leader through the eye. I substitute a strip of foam for the body for better flotation. My color preference is natural tan-grey deer hair because it is more visible. Body color does not seem to be critical. I use mostly 12’s, but carry a few smaller and larger ones. Put a few Cooper Bug’s in your fly-box and you will be well outfitted for seasons.