Fly of the Month – The Matuka Bugger

Fly Tyer: Justin Aldrich

This is a Sculpin imitation designed to swim on the bottom….and get there in a hurry. So keep that in mind when making this pattern your own with different material substitutes and colors.

I’ve been using this pattern lately on my local streams and have not only been catching numbers, but catching great sized Fish too. Great times to fish this are just before, during, and after a rain.


● Hook: Mustad R75-79580)
● Thread: Veevus 8/0 Olive/Brown.
● Bead: Tungsten Copper Cone head.
● Additional Weight: .025 Lead Wraps.
● Abdomen/Body: Olive Hare’s Ear Plus Dubbing.
● Collar: Dark Olive Speckled Hen feather.
● Body Hackle: Golden/Olive Saddle feather.
● Matuka Wing: Golden/Olive Saddle Spade feather. (Hen saddle feather can be used, also here.)
● Tail: Golden/Olive Saddle Spade feather & a small section of Olive Marabou.
● Rib: Small Copper wire.
● LOCTITE Superglue.

Tying Recipe

Additional Weight
● Attach your lead wire so that it covers the entire length of the shank.  Double up the wraps about a 1/4 inch in the Thorax behind the bead. Leave approximately 3-4mm space between the lead wraps and the bend of the hook.
● Attach thread and secure in the lead wire with a few turns of thread. Apply a generous amount of Superglue so it seeps into the tiny spaces of the lead caused by the thread wraps. Then continue to secure in the lead with more thread wraps.
● Tie in the Rib on the far side of the shank after the Lead wraps are secured in.

Matuka Wing PREP
● Take your choice of 2 appropriately sized feathers. Line the tips up, dull sides facing each other.
● Measure the length of tail you want the pattern to have by hanging the tips past the bend of the hook on top of the shank. Transfer feather tips to your left hand, and strip all the fibers off the bottom of the “belly portion” of the feathers. (Do NOT strip off any bottom fibers of the tail (tips) portion of the feathers you just measured out.)
● Place feathers aside for later.

Tail 1
● Measure a small section of webby Marabou fibers. Pinch off tips so that only the “webbiest” parts are left.
● Place on the near side of the shank and tie in right at the bend. (Your wanting the fibers to rotate 180° around the top of the bend. Length should be 1/2 – 3/4 the length of the Matuka Wing tail. The Marabou should not extend to the tips or especially past them.)
● Secure in the butt ends up the length of the shank for durability. Snip off any extended fibers.

Abdomen & Body Hackle
● Dub a tight tapered Abdomen to about a millimeter behind the bead. (I chose dubbing for the body to better control not bulking it up so much.)
● Tie in the Saddle Hackle in about a millimeter behind the bead. (Typical Woolly Bugger fashion.)
● Wrap the Saddle feather backwards towards the waiting Rib. Space the turns evenly…..about 5 wraps. (Sparse wraps are better than over loading a Woolly Bugger style Fly with too many Hackle wraps.)
● Catch in the Hackle tip with 2 tight turns of the Rib. Attach some heavy Hackle Pliers to the Rib and let hang free. (This will ensure that the Hackle you just trapped down won’t come free.)
● Trim off the top portion of the Saddle fibers to make a space for the Matuka Wing.

Matuka Wing
● Do a quick measure again with the already prepared feathers. Make sure to pay attention to where the tie in point of the feathers will be. Once everything is lined up where you want, strip off any excess fibers in the butt section of the feathers. (This will make tying them in easier.)
● Tie them in with a pinch and loop on top of the shank. Make a few more securing wraps of thread to bind it down.
● Straighten out the Matuka Wing on top of the shank. Now tie down the tail with the Rib.
●While Ribbing the Abdomen, do your best not to trap any Hackle fibers. Fold back the Matuka Wing fibers and rib through them in even spaced turns.
● Tie off the Rib behind the bead.

The Collar
● Tie in a dyed Olive Partridge or Speckled Hen feather by the tip and behind the bead.
● Add a bit more dubbing to behind the bead to cover up all thread wraps.
● Stroke back all the fibers of the feather and start to wrap it to the bead.
● Tie off the feather.

Finishing up!
● At this point there shouldn’t be any space left behind the bead. Don’t bother with trying to whip finish dubbing behind the bead. This will only push back and fold over the Collar fibers permanently where you don’t want them.
● Instead, just apply some Head Cement to the thread, fold back the Collar, and make two, 3 turn whip finishes behind the bead.
(The Collar will spring forward again when done.)
● Snip off thread close.


6 thoughts on “Fly of the Month – The Matuka Bugger

  1. James Cryderman.

    The word is Matuku not Matuka, the fly was named after the bird the feathers of which were so eminently suitable for the fly. This I know from school where our class was divided into 4 groups named after New Zealand native birds, one of which is the Matuku ( now protected and so it is illegal to use its feathers), the class teacher was a New Zealand Maori ( Matuku is the Maori name for a native swamp bird-very shy and has the habit when disturbed of reaching out with its neck extended and remaining motionless so that it looks like a stick amongst the swamp shrubbery).The teacher was also a fly fisherman and so his interest in schooling us in the background of the bird and the history of the fly.

  2. J Stockard

    Hi James, Thanks so much for your comment. It got us searching online. We typed ‘matuku bugger’ into Google and got the response ‘including results for matuka bugger’. So Google has already merged the two spellings. Two big fly suppliers – Orvis and Umpqua – seem have opted to ‘matuka.’ Interestingly sites from your neck of the woods – Australia, New Zealand – use ‘matuku‘. Looks like once the matuku flew north of the equator, it turned into a ‘matuka‘! J Stockard

  3. Warren Fulton

    Another vise creation that was not designed to challenge the bottom. Having spent one year only casting scuplin patterns on my local waters, to test if they would catch more or larger fish that the patterns we were using in my Guide Service, I learned to favor patterns that sank hook up and remained hook up as the scooted along the bottom with a Teeny Teeny 200 line and 3 foot, repeat 3 foot, leader. A ten foot 7wt IMX became my rod of choice. Basically Alaska fishing.

    I can also add that fishing the Madison during the warm days of August that one of my guides was very pleased with his 16 inch brown caught on a size 4 Scuplin that I tied. A local guide quickly caught one in the twenties on a size 2 sculpin. Lesson learned.

  4. MedinaFly

    you don’t mention size of hook. what would you suggest — i’m thinking 4-8, but what has worked best for you?

  5. James Weber

    Just curious. If this fly is supposed to quickly go to the bottom and stay there, how do you keep from getting it snagged?


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