My history with this fly goes back to the Scott Sanchez fly tying book I purchased at the Fly Fishing Show several years ago. In 2012 I was flipping through the book looking for new ideas, and I encountered Scott’s recipe and instructions for ultra zugs and decided to give it a try. I tied a few ultra zug bugs, and at the time I viewed them as simple replacements for a prince nymph. I dislike mounting the white goose biots as wings on the prince nymph, so the simplicity of the ultra zug appealed to me.
Until this year I rarely fished a prince nymph, and thus an ultra zug, except for the April and early May time frame when I’ve had decent success with the peacock bodied subsurface flies during the caddis hatches that occur frequently on Colorado streams. My theory is that the dark peacock body is a reasonable imitation of egg laying female caddis flies. Unfortunately the spring of 2014 featured abnormally high and cold conditions, and I did not fish during the heavy presence of caddis as I was accustomed to in previous years. For this reason my ultra zug bugs remained dormant in my fly box for most of the summer.
During my trip to the Flattops Wilderness in September after hiking two miles into the backcountry to fish the South Fork of the White River, I came to the realization that I was running out of my salvation nymphs. The salvation had advanced from an experimental fly to the new number one workhorse fly in my arsenal. With another month of prime fishing remaining in the 2014 season, I did not want to deplete my salvation supply, so I rummaged through my zippered fleece pouch and spotted several ultra zugs.These flies had an abundance of flash, a scraggly look, and the peacock color that trout relish. Could these be a replacement for the salvation for the remainder of the day?
I tied one on my line, and it instantly became the hot fly. I always avoid tying flies during fishing season, so I continued opting for the ultra zug over the salvation for the remainder of the season, and guess what I discovered? The ultra zug yielded fish on par with the hares ear and possibly matched the salvation nymph in productivity. Was this a fall phenomenon, or is the ultra zug an all season attractor similar to the hares ear and salvation?
In order to answer this question, I decided to tie another thirty this winter so that I have fifty as I enter the 2015 fishing season. Quantity will not be a deterrent to tying an ultra zug to my line, and I intend to test it throughout the season and not limit it to early and late season situations.
The beauty of the ultra zug is its simplicity. Excluding the hook, bead and thread only three materials are required to construct this fish catching machine. I start with a brown tail made from pheasant feather fibers, and then I tie in a strand of crystal hair. Next I dub a tapered body of synthetic peacock, and then I rib the body with the crystal hair. Finally I spin small clumps of the peacock dubbing around the body just behind the bead, and then I whip finish. I can crank out two of these flies for every single hares ear or salvation nymph. The synthetic peacock dubbing creates quite a bit of sparkle and the crystal hair augments the flash even more than fine wire. Once I whip finish the fly, I pinch the dubbed collar with my right hand, and then I pull the excess fibers with my left and tear them away. This shrinks the dubbed hackle to the proper length and also strokes the fibers into a nice sheath around the body of the fly.
I’m excited to give the ultra zug more time on my line. It is a great looking simple fly, and I’m betting the fish will give it a thumbs up.