The Triangle Bug

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As we move closer to spring, I am looking forward to spending some quality time on my local panfish waters. Though I can usually start catching fish just after ice-out, it is not as enjoyable or productive as getting out on the water on a warm spring day. But what I look forward to most is when the water warms to the point when the fish start to look up for their next meal. Everyone loves the excitement of a fish taking a fly off the surface, and I am no exception. If there is a possibility of catching fish on the surface, I always prefer to fish a floating fly. I may be able to connect with more fish by fishing sub-surface, but I am addicted to dry fly fishing and take advantage of the opportunity to do it whenever I can.

The Triangle Bug in my favorite color combination Bright Green/Chartreuse.

The Triangle Bug in my favorite color combination Bright Green/Chartreuse.

My Favorite Topwater Pattern

One of my go-to patterns for surface feeding fish is the Triangle Bug. When bluegills and other sunfish first move into shallow water in early spring, they tend to be a little skittish. The triangle bug sits low in the water and is perfect for those shallow water situations when big bluegills get spooky. The fly lands softly without spooking fish, and those long rubber legs are irresistible. The best part about this fly is its design. The triangle shape of this bug is what makes it the perfect panfish fly. Bluegills and other members of the sunfish family have small mouths. Despite this fact, they are notorious for swallowing flies. The broad head of the fly prevents the small-mouthed bluegill from inhaling it too deeply, but the narrow portion near the business end of the hook allows them to take it from the surface with ease and allows for solid hookups. This fly has been a staple in my fly boxes for a very long time

The Triangle Bug is a simple but effective fly, perfect for the beginning fly tier.

The Triangle Bug is a simple but effective fly, perfect for the beginning fly tier.

Questions On Tying The Fly

I have received more reader feedback on the Triangle Bug than any other pattern featured on the Panfish On The Fly website. The two top questions involve the cutting out of the diamond shape used to create the body and what hook I am using to tie this pattern.

The Perfect Foam Body

When I first started tying the pattern, I struggled with cutting the diamond shaped pieces of foam that are used to create the fly. Some were too big, some too small, some too get the picture. This resulted in flies all looked and performed differently. As a result of tying hundreds of these flies, I gradually worked out a system for creating uniform looking bodies. This system was further enhanced when a friend of mine developed a simple template for creating the shapes. Both methods worked well, but they were not perfect. I now have a way to create a perfectly sized body every time, and the best part is I can mass produce them!

Solving The Hook Problem

In the early days, I tied this fly in a few different sizes but eventually settled on one format. I chose a size small enough for the size bluegills and sunfish most anglers are interested in catching but large enough to attract the occasional larger predators like bass and pickerel. I have experimented with many sizes, styles, and brands of hooks over the years and although I found a few that worked very well they all had one problem. When fishing the Triangle Bug, I noticed that after catching its fair share of fish, the foam body would sometimes rotate on the hook shank. This occurred as a result of the fly being grabbed by fingers, hemostats or pliers multiple times as it was removed from the mouths of fish. One of the great things about fly fishing for panfish is that you have the opportunity to catch a lot of fish, so your flies must be up to the challenge.

By accident, I stumbled upon the perfect hook for this pattern and a solution to the rotation problem. The hook has a kinked shank similar to that a popper hook. The difference is the kink runs in a horizontal plane opposed to a vertical one as you find on popper hooks. This kink in the hook shank prevents a flat-bodied fly like the Triangle Bug from rotating on the hook shank. Problem solved! I don’t know what the original application of this hook was, but it is perfect for mine. The hook also works well with other flat bodied foam patterns where the foam is “sandwiched” around the shank of the hook. Unfortunately this hook is no longer in production, but fortunately, I was able to acquire a large enough quantity of them that will keep me in Triangle Bugs for a very long time!

Finishing The Fly

Once you have the hook and the body worked out, you can finish the Triangle Bug any way you like. I feel silicon or rubber legs are essential, but the fly has gone on to catch fish after losing some or all of its legs on many occasions. I prefer silicon legs as they seem to hold up a little better, but round rubber leg material will work well too. For the tail, I prefer to tie it with a material that has thin straight fibers. My tail material of choice is calf tail; it can be used straight away without stacking, and it does not flair when tied in. It is straightforward to work with and is available in a lot of colors. Bucktail and even synthetic materials like craft fur can be used as well. Just keep the tail on the thin side, don’t let it get too bushy or it may interfere with the hook gap.

As a result of many reader requests, I am now offering the precut bodies and the hooks for sale on the website. Also, you will also find the silicon legs and calf tail that I use for this pattern.