Back in 2009 I opened up an email with flies to tie for the upcoming World Fly Fishing Championship in Scotland, which had four stillwater venues and one river. Our guide for Fly Fishing Team USA, the well-known Scottish guide and angler Dave Downie, had sent us some photos of the flies he had confidence in for the venues. Several of the flies were variations on chironomids and wet flies that looked fairly familiar and another was a blob. The standout to me was a picture of a silver and black wooly bugger that Dave said was his creation that he called the Humongus (I can’t handle the intentional guttural misspelling humungus so it is the humongous to me. Sorry Dave!). It looked like it had an unraveled steel cable’s worth of silver flashabou and half a turkey’s marabou for a tail; both of which were three times the length of the hook. The proportions of the palmered hackle were also vastly exaggerated in diameter. It was unlike any bugger I had ever seen having grown up in the Denny Rickard’s school of buggers, typified by their slim profile and sparse tails. This bugger was the opposite of everything Rickards wrote about in his first book that had practically been my stillwater bible as a kid. Needless to say, I had a hard time having much confidence in the fly and the “copies” I tied ended up more in proportion with the buggers I was used to.
When I fished my “copies” during practice I was unsuccessful, though I caught fish on other flies. Dave was adamant that the oversized hackle and long tail were essential to the function of the fly, since they provided maximum movement during the exaggerated pull and pause retrieve that he favored with them. He caught fish on his version of the humongous during practice so I caved and stuck half a package of marabou on the back of a hook and added half a hank of my silver flashabou underneath (I've since slimmed both when I tie them). Though I started the championships as the alternate, I ended up fishing the 4th and 5th sessions on Carron Valley Reservoir and the River Tay and getting my first baptism by fire at a World Fly Fishing Championships. I was out of my element on those Scottish lakes, still being relatively new to loch style fly fishing at the time, and I simply trusted what Dave and my teammates told me I should do. I stayed near the dam on Carron Valley, chucked my line for all I was worth, and ripped back a team of flies with a Humongous on the top dropper, a tequila blob in the middle, and another Humongous on the point. Thankfully the fish responded well and I ended up getting fourth place in the session. I felt it was pretty respectable for my first session at a World Championship. The River Tay was even kinder to me in the next session but that’s a story for another post I may never get to.
A brown trout I caught during practice for the 2009 World Fly Fishing Championships in Scotland.
After the championship, like I do with all flies that come about during the course of competitions, I set about fishing the Humongous on my home waters in eastern Idaho and northern Utah where I lived at the time. The fish looovvvedd the Humongous, so naturally I set about tying other tried and true bugger color variations in the Humongous style. Now I have an entire double sided 10” x 12” boat box full of variations on the Humongous theme. In addition, I started fishing the Humongous on rivers and tying the fly in the gold variation Dave liked on cloudy days. The positive results continued on moving water and many of the fish that have fallen to streamers on rivers for me in the meantime have come to the Humongous. In short, this fly changed the way I tie buggers and it has changed my success with them too.
An eastern Idaho rainbow sporting some Humongous lip jewelry.
Tying recipe with links to the products found below. Keep scrolling for the tools used.
- Hook: Sizes 8-12 Hanak 230, Hanak 260, Hends 254, Partridge Patriot Barbless Sproat Add to Cart
- Bead: Tactical Fly Fisher 2.8mm countersunk silver tungsten bead Add to Cart
- Thread: Uni 8/0 Black Add to Cart
- Flash: Silver flashabou. Substitute gold or copper for variations with those colors of tinsel chenille Add to Cart
- Tail: Spirit River UV2 raven black marabou or Nature's Spirit marbou. Add to Cart
- Rib: Brassie size silver ultra wire. Substitute gold or copper for variations with those colors of tinsel chenille Add to Cart
- Body: Silver tinsel Chenille. Could use gold or copper as well. Add to Cart
- Hackle: Grizzly Whiting Bugger Pack Add to Cart
Tools and head cement used: