Tying the Lightning Bug – Fins and Feathers Bozeman
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Tying the Lightning Bug

The Lightning Bug is one of the most effective and popular attractor nymphs, and a particular favorite of our guides. Most of the time trout just can’t seem to get enough of them. The one tied here is a size 16, but each size will be a little different sizes of holographic tinsel.

Fly Recipe

Thread: The thinner the better to avoid bulk. 8/0 Uni or 70 UTC are good
Hook: 2x long nymph hook such as Dai-Riki #730 or Tiemco 3761
Bead: Your preference. I like Spirit River brass beads because they are hollow and you can stuff more lead inside it.
Weight: Lead or lead free wire
Tail: Pheasant tail
Abdomen: Holographic tinsel
Rib: Ultra Wire
Thorax: Peacock herl
Wingcase: Holographic tinsel
Legs: Pheasant tail

Tying the Lightning Bug Step 1Start out by wrapping about half to hook shank in lead. If you are using a hollow bead slide the lead up inside it. Whichever kind of bead you’re using you want the lead to end in the middle of the hook shank; this help the fly have a kind of tapered look. Now start the thread and make a few wraps over the lead to secure it in place. Then tie in the wire for the rib and secure it all the way back to the start of the hook bend.


Take some pheasant tail (4-5 fibers is enough) and tie in the tail. I like my Lightning Bug tails to be on the short side. Then tie in some holographic tinsel near the base of the tail. I used medium sized holographic tinsel on this #16. Wrap the tinsel forward and tie off. Next wrap the wire forward to help secure the tinsel body. Take some more tinsel and tie it in sticking backwards. This will be the wingcase, which I used large sized holographic tinsel for as I think it looks better. Follow that with a few pieces of Peacock herl.


Warp the peacock to form a thorax. Try not to make it too thick. I like to spin the peacock around the thread to make the fly more durable. Now tie in a bunch of 2 or 3 pheasant tail fibers behind the bead, on either side of the fly, to form some legs. If the legs are sticking out too much try wrapping some thread behind the bead before tying in the legs. This will help the legs lay more along the fly rather than being crimped and sticking out.


Pull the wingcase tinsel forward and secure it down with a few thigh thread wraps. When you cut the excess tinsel off leave a little tag end. Now tie off the fly with a few whip finishes or your preferred method. Put a dab of head cement on the top of the fly behind the bead and fold the tag end of tinsel back and stick it down; this helps hide the thread and gives the fly a nice profile.

Ready to give the Lightning Bug a shot? Book a trip with one of our professional guides.