The uglies: 9 flies that aren’t pretty, but catch a whole lot of fish

The uglies

These flies may not be easy on the eyes, but they sure do a beautiful job of catching fish


The dismal Girdle Bug features nothing but a dark body and rubber legs. It is an objectively ugly fly, but beyond aesthetics, the thing is so buggy looking that it squicks me out a little. If some joker left a Girdle Bug by my kitchen sink, I’d start whacking it with the spatula, assuming it had crawled up the drain. But of course, that squick factor is why catches fish.


Officially, Girdle Bugs imitate stonefly nymphs, which are found across much of Canada, primarily in cold, clear fast rivers with rocky bottoms. When I first started fly fishing in the 1980s, hyper-realistic nymph flies were in vogue, but they were often rather stiff and lifeless in the water. I’ll take the Girdle Bug’s wiggly legs over entomological exactness any day. It works almost anywhere because its erratic movement conveys both life and distress, triggering any predator.

The Girdle Bug has actually been forgotten and rediscovered several times since the 1930s. Back then, fly tiers allegedly took the latex banding from ladies’ girdles and sliced it into strips to make the legs. That explains the fly’s name, and it says a lot about fly tiers, too.


  • HOOK: 2XL nymph, sizes 6 to 12
  • BODY: Black, brown or mottled chenille
  • LEGS: White, black or brown Sili Legs or similar
  • WEIGHT (optional): Lead underwire or dark bead head
Send this to a friend