Olive The Woolly Bugger Blog

or, perhaps Olive the Woolly Blogger...

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Get stuck on Olive and help Casting 4 A Cure

The power of the internet never ceases to amaze me. What’s more amazing than that is the generosity of complete strangers.  In this virtual world of ever-increasing social media and online networking, there are critics who think that the world is becoming an increasingly impersonal place.  While that may be true to some extent, I find that the internet is bringing people closer together. There’s no substitute for meeting someone face-to-face and shaking their hand but since that’s not always readily possible, making acquaintances online is the next best thing. I’ve had the good fortune of meeting some great people lately – people who have been generously willing to help me out. And by helping me they’re helping others.

April Vokey is one such person whom I’ve yet to actually meet in person, but through the internet and Facebook we’ve shared some online correspondence. April owns and operates Flygal Ventures, a British Columbia-based fly fishing guide service. April is also a casting instructor and offers many different casting workshops. She’s a busy gal, and recently returned from Victor, Idaho where she participated in the Casting 4 A Cure event on August 27-29. For those who don’t know, Casting 4 A Cure is a group of like-minded compadres who use fly fishing as a means of having a lot of fun while at the same time raising money for the International Rett Syndrome Foundation. It’s a tremendous group of people fighting to find a cure for a horrible childhood disease.  Since my series of children’s fly fishing books have a little something to do with kids and fly fishing, I pledged Olive’s support for Casting 4 A Cure and will do what I can to raise a little money for the group. One of the projects I’ve started is selling Olive the Woolly Bugger stickers, with proceeds going to Casting 4 A Cure.

My friend Sharon Butterfield is another key person who has helped me out. Sharon owns Myflies.com, which is a rapidly growing online collection of fly fishing talent, from fly tiers to artists, photographers to authors, rod builders to guides and adventures and lodging.  It’s an impressive assortment of folks that Sharon has assembled, and fly anglers looking for the best of many offerings need look no further than Myflies.com. A while back Sharon generously offered to sell the stickers through her site, saving me from having to set up a sales venue. Stickers sell for $3.00 and of that $1.50 is sent directly to Bill Farnum, Executive Director for Casting 4 A Cure.  The other half covers the printing cost of the stickers and postage. If you do the math you’ll see that nothing goes into my pockets.

I recently asked Apri Vokey if she wouldn’t mind posting an Olive sticker link on her Facebook page. She’s much more popular than I am, and by doing so she has helped put the word out to several thousand people. Upon posting the link, one of April’s friends stepped up and offered a free pair of Optic Nerve sunglasses (valued at $100) to the person who places the largest order of Olive stickers by October 4th.  K.C. Lund is a fly angler and former professional snowboarder now working as a steel fabricator and is the BC/Alta rep for Optic Nerve. This generous act has left me humbled- thank you, K.C. If you would like to reach K.C. to inquire about Optic Nerve sunglasses you can do so by sending email to E.kc.opticnerve (at) telus.net

I want to thank April for spreading the word and for having such great friends, and to also thank Sharon for all the support in selling the stickers.  I couldn’t do it without your help.

So to those who read this blog, and I’m not sure that there are many of you yet, please consider purchasing an Olive the Woolly Bugger sticker and by doing so helping Casting 4 A Cure. Click on the sticker graphic below and it’ll take you right over to Myflies.com.


I’ve been getting a lot of emails from the American Fly Fishing Trade Association (AFFTA) recently, reminding me of the forthcoming International Fly Fishing Tackle Dealers (IFTD) tradeshow in Denver (which starts on September 11th).  How I got on the mailing list might seem curious to many, but it all stems from series of correspondence emails I had a few years ago with then-President, Robert Ramsay.  Mr. Ramsay was gracious enough to preview my kids fly fishing books and offer some good words to use as a promotional blurb. Since then I’ve been the recipient of all emails pertaining to all AFFTA happenings. It’s kinda neat to feel like an “insider”, even though I am not.

Many folks who I “know” (in the way that becoming Facebook Friends, Twitter followers and blog comrades constitutes “knowing” someone) are going to Denver for the IFTD, and several have asked if I was planning to be there as well. I wish I was because it would be a tremendous venue for meeting many of these people face-to-face, networking and rubbing elbows with people in the industry that may not already know about Olive the woolly bugger.  My goal, a lofty one at that, is to make sure that every single person in the fly fishing industry learns about Olive.  Beyond that I want everyone who is a customer of those businesses in the fly fishing industry to know about Olive.  And of course I want parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and everyone else in the world to know about Olive the woolly bugger.

Aside from the chance to have a booth and hob knob with like-minded fly fishing professionals, there are exciting things I’ll be missing at the show, including these specials.

Redington will be at the show, and Redington is a friend of Olive.  When you purchase one of the Redington Minnow Fly Fishing Outfits for kids, you receive a coupon for ordering all three Olive books at half price.  That’s a great way to get kids interested in fly fishing.

As an author, I’m particularly interested in anything pertaining to the book business. One of the distributors of the Olive the woolly bugger series of books is Angler’s Book Supply.  They handle all distribution in the West, and have been great business partners, believing in Olive since her inception.  Angler’s Book Supply is offering a very enticing show special:

Orders placed at the show will enjoy an extra 10% discount and an additional 30 days dating.  For orders of 20+ units that’s 50% discount and FREE FREIGHT with 60-day dating.  You must visit our booth to qualify.  No splits or delayed shipping allowed.

That sounds pretty good to me, so if you’re a fly shop owner looking to add Olive the Little Woolly Bugger, Olive and The Big Stream, and Olive Goes for a Wild Ride to your inventory, now would be a great time to contact Angler’s Book Supply.

I see from the list of Exhibitors that a few book publishers are planning to be present as well. Unfortunately I don’t see the publisher of the Olive books listed. I’m a little surprised and disappointed that Big Earth Publishing won’t be an exhibitor. After all, they have offices are in Boulder which is really close Denver, so logistically it wouldn’t be too difficult. But more important than proximity to the show is the fact that Big Earth has a good list of fly fishing books in addition to all three Olive books (which are all, by the way, in the publisher’s Top Ten Bestsellers List!). The following titles are all available from Big Earth, so check them out:

• A Kid’s Guide to Fly Fishing by Tyler Befus
A Kids’s Guide to Fly Tying by Tyler Befus
Breakfast at Trout’s Place by Ken Marsh
Carp On the Fly by Barry Reynolds, Brad Befus, & John Berryman
Fly Fishing with Barry Reynolds: From Bass to Walleye by Barry Reynolds
Poul Jorgensen’s Book of Fly Tying by Poul Jorgensen
River Girls by Cecilia “Pudge” Kleinkauf
The Blood Knot by John Galligan
The Cinch Knot by John Galligan
The Nail Knot by John Galligan
Olive the Little Woolly Bugger by Kirk Werner
Olive and the Big Stream by Kirk Werner
Olive Goes for a Wild Ride by Kirk Werner

Maybe next year Big Earth Publishing will be at the IFTD show in Denver. Hopefully I will, too. If you’re one of the lucky folks going this year be sure to check out the IFTD Social Media Lounge. Kyle Perkins, of the Compleat Thought will be manning the booth where those in the fly fishing industry can learn about the new media and social outreach possibilities available. Kyle also generously agreed to have some info on hand about Olive so grab a handout while you’re there.

And speaking of social media, in addition to this blog and website, Olive can also be found on Facebook and Twitter:

FaceBook: Fly Fishing with Olive the Woolly Bugger

Twitter: @olivewoollybugr

Stop on by and join the Olive Facebook group and follow Olive on Twitter.

If you’re like me and can’t make the IFTD show this year, Marshall Cutchin of Midcurrent will be blogging live, so tune in. It should be the next best thing to being there.

Sleeping in the Dirt: Kids Edition

Sleeping in the dirt. It doesn’t have the same comforting feel as “sleeping on a king-sized pillow top mattress in a fancy hotel” and that’s the point. A hard core fisherman doesn’t care where they sleep. Afterall, sleep is simply a means to an end, with that end being of course, fishing.  Find a piece of dirt, toss out a sleeping bag and you’re good to go. I should note that this isn’t something I profess to do (I’m way too old much of a whimp for that). But it’s not something Aaron Otto is afraid to do.

If you’ve yet to see stumble upon the Sleeping in the Dirt blog, you’re missing out. Fly angler/blogger/photographer Aaron Otto is a guy who makes sure his pulse remains strong by getting out and fishing. Fishing is the way he avoids “dying one day at a time at the hands of corporate America”, and fortunately for us we can all benefit from his reclamation on life by visiting his blog.  But there’s more to the website than just some thought-provoking prose and awe-inspiring photography: Aaron also publishes a virtual magazine by the same name, and the 4th issue is all about kids and fly fishing- two of my favorite things that happen to go together quite nicely.

I just finished flipping through the 47 digital pages of the Kids Edition and it is tremendous. The pages are filled with well-written parental accounts of some special times spent with their young ‘uns, with photos to fill in between the words.  The layout of the magazine is great, too- feels just like a print magazine, but it’s greener is so many ways. If you’re old school (with emphasis on old) and like your magazines printed on paper, consider another great feature of the digital periodical:  You have the ability to zoom in really close on the text. That right there is a nice alternative to reading glasses, and suits these 47 year-old eyes nicely.

“Reclaim your youth, take them fishing.”

Getting kids involved in outdoor activities and spending time actually doing something with your kids is what it’s all about. The old saying that “There’s more to fishing than catching fish” is never more true than when you take a kid out on the water with you. The one-on-one time spent together will forge a bond that will last your lifetimes, and if you establish a common passion such as fishing, then maybe – just maybe when your kid gets to that teenage point in life where they no longer think you’re cool, maybe they’ll think your a little less uncool. They really do grow up fast, so spend that quality time with them at every opportunity.  Before you know it you’ll be old and arthritic and in need of someone to row the drift boat for you.

So the next time you’re thinking about taking a fishing trip with a buddy, think about maybe making that buddy be your child. If you still need a little convincing, the stories and photos in the Kids Edition of Sleeping in the Dirt will inspire you.

Thanks for the great work, Aaron!

Fishy Kid

For those who are not yet aware of Fishy Kid, you owe it to yourselves (and your kids) to click on over and give the absolutely free site a good look. Fishy Kid was started by a coupla dads who love fly fishing almost as much as they love their kids. The vision behind this grassroots venture is to bring kids and parents closer through a combination of play and the environment.  Get your kids hooked on fishing, because as we all know fishing is a great outdoor endeavor that involves time spent with friends and family.

There’s a lot going on over at Fishy Kid right now, including the Three Months of Summer photo contest. Hurry- the contest ends on August 31st! There will be great prizes for winners in the following categories:

  • Biggest Fish
  • Smallest Fish
  • Most Unique Fish
  • Most Fish
  • Random Overall Winner

The guys behind Fishy Kid have done an awesome job lining up an impressive list of sponsors for the prize giveaways, and there will be 20 great prizes sent out to lucky winners in September.

Make your kid a Fishy Kid today!

Fly fishing rods for kids

Let me start by saying that I’m no expert teaching kids to cast a fly line. I’m always amazed that some folks seem to think that just because I’m an author of fly fishing books for kids that I know a thing or two about teaching kids how to fly fish. Remember the old adage: If you can’t do something, write about it. Or something like that ;).

That being said I wish some of the current kids’ fly rods were available when I started my own son out on his journey into fly fishing. He began by using a 9 foot 5wt graphite rod that had been relegated to backup status in my quiver rods. I was a bit hesitant to have him use this rod partially because it might’ve been a bit long for him to handle at first. But I’ll be honest:  my real hesitation lie in the fact that I was worried he’d break or otherwise trash my equipment! Fortunately my son has always had a knack for anything involving movements of the arm that resemble a throwing type motion (rocks, baseballs, etc).  He was always pretty coordinated as a youngster, and the basics of fly casting came fairly easily to him and my gear suffered no serious damage. He was 11 years old when he first went fly fishing with me, and while he could have done so earlier, I felt this was a perfect time to introduce him to the sport.  Maybe it was the perfect time for me to introduce him to the sport. He already liked fishing (catching, that is), and I felt that he had the patience to deal with the inevitable pitfalls of fly casting: line tangles.

Today’s kids have a selection of quality offerings specifically geared toward the younger angler. Something shorter than the “standard” 9 footer can make a rod more manageable in the hands of a child, and a medium action blank ensures that young casters can feel the rod loading (that is if you can get them to slow down and “feel” the rod!).  At first, my son just started to wave the stick back and forth without regard for what the rod tip, and subsequently the line, was doing. This is probably something most youngsters will do at first, but giving them a good piece of hardware that isn’t a broomstick will greatly improve their casting once they get the hang of it. If you have kids you know that they like having their own stuff, so if a fly rod to call their own makes them more excited to get out there and use it, I’d say that’s a good thing.

I’ve assembled information about several good bets for the budding young fly anglers in your lives. These are not fly rod reviews, as I have not tested any of these products. The point here is to offer a few good options for you parents to consider, and I recommend you visit your local fly shop to check out their selection of kid’s rods first. Please note than any information included here about these rods/outfits comes directly from the manufacturer’s/retailer’s websites and do not reflect the opinion of this reporter.


REDINGTON offers two different outfits geared toward young anglers. The Minnow is targeted at kids ages 6-12, while the Crosswater Youth is aimed at pre-teen/teen anglers.


Length: 8′
Line weight : 5/6
Number of sections: 2
Includes Reel:  Yes
MSRP: $99

The Minnow outfit was precisely designed and tuned to meet the needs of a younger, beginner angler. The goal is for these kids to have fun and success when fly fishing so they want to continue with the sport. The packaging design is kid and parent friendly with additional tips, techniques and games for kids to get started fly fishing.


• Updated cosmetics
• Alignment dots
• Targeted for ages 6-12
• Easy casting 2-pc 8’ 5/6 wt. graphite rod
• Tough and unfussy Crosswater reel
• Quality RIO backing, WF fly line, and knotless leader pre-spooled onto the reel
• Includes fun casting games and cut out targets in the box design
• Red rod sock included
• Each Minnow outfit includes a coupon for ordering Olive the Little Woolly Bugger, Olive and The Big Stream and Olive Goes for a Wild Ride at 50% off retail (that’s only $6.47 each)!


Length: 8′ 6″
Line weight : 5/6
Number of sections: 4
Includes Reel:  Yes
MSRP: $139.95

Similar to the Minnow, the Crosswater Youth Outfit was designed and tuned to meet the needs of a younger, beginner angler. However, this outfit is a little larger in size for the pre-teen/teen angler. The packaging and rod/reel case was designed to attract the teenage angler. The entire package is a legit fly angling package to a teen, but looks cool and “not like dad’s.”


• Medium-fast Action
• Attractive trim details and cosmetics on outfit and packaging for younger demographic
• Alignment dots
• Versatile 4-pc 8’6” 5/6 wt. graphite rod
• Durable Crosswater reel
• Backing, RIO Mainstream WF fly line, and knotless leader pre-spooled
• Rod/Reel Case included



Length: 7’9″
Line weight : 4/5
Number of sections: 3
Includes Reel: No
MSRP: $99

Echo Gecko Fly Rod helps to make fly fishing easy for kids was Tim Rajeff’s goal. The Echo Gecko rods have a special diameter handle and a small 2″ long fighting butt that allows the smallest anglers to use two hands to cast. A bright yellow blank and a fun colored handle make these rods as much fun to look at as they are to cast. No longer do children have to learn to fly fish with a rod that is too long or too stiff or use a rod with a handle designed for adult hands. The rod is a great length for trout, pan fish, and bass. The rod can handle a short belly WF5 or a standard WF4 line. A great fly rod for children and kids just beginning.


• Three piece travel design
• Alignment dots for quick assembly
• Wild colored EVA extra small diameter full wells handle w/small 2″ long fighting butt
• Fuji style fast-tighten reel seat
• Bright yellow gloss blank with orange thread wraps
• Hard chrome snake guides
• Rod sock and sturdy rod case
• Super durable rod design



Length: 7’6″
Line weight : 4
Number of sections: 4
Includes Reel: No
MSRP: $119

The Journey® youth series fly rod is the only fly rod designed for youth anglers, by youth anglers. Instead of taking an adult sized rod and trying to fit it into a youth sized package, we took everything we’ve learned from fishing with our own children and designed the Journey series from the ground up; arriving at what is arguably the finest youth fly rod ever built! The rod is a 4wt. design so it can be fished on most types of water, but the length is only 7’6″ so it is easy for a youth angler to control. In addition, the premium grade cork handle is crafted to perfectly fit a child’s hand and allow for comfortable casting without fatigue. This 4-piece rod series helps families to introduce their children to the sport of fly fishing with the right sized equipment, and without breaking the bank. The Journey series proprietary R-1 graphite design is a medium-fast action taper that is perfect for any casting style, and forgiving for those anglers just starting out. These are smooth casting rods that are sensitive, precise and effortless to cast; making it easier for youth anglers to learn the sport of fly fishing.


• Ross proprietary R-1 graphite design
• Medium-fast action rod taper, perfect for youth anglers
• 4-piece design – great for travel!
• Smooth casting, sensitive and precise
• Titanium oxide, super strong guides
• Rod piece alignment dots
• Anodized aluminum reel seat
• Youth sized half wells handle
• Cordura rod case
• Available in blue, pink
• Lifetime Warranty



Length: 7’9″
Line weight : 5
Number of sections: 4
Includes Reel: Yes
MSRP: $198 (on sale at the time of this writing for $159)

A fly rod and reel combo specifically designed for the junior angler. 7′ 9″ Mid-Flex rod is the perfect length and weight for smaller frames. Rod features smaller and shorter grip tailored for smaller hands. Clearwater® III Reel. 150 yards of 30 Dacron® backing. WF5 chartreuse floating line and a 9′ 2X leader. Just add a fly to this kids rod and reel combo. Ages 13 and older.



Length: 7’9″
Line weight : 4
Number of sections: 4
Includes Reel: Yes
MSRP: $199

Offered in blue and pink. This outfit will have your little one throwing darts and dreaming of fly fishing adventures! Trust us, you’ve never seen a youth rod and reel like this.



Length: 7′, 8′, 8’6″, 9′
Line weight : 5 and 6
Number of sections: 2
Includes Reel: Yes
MSRP: $80

At L.L. Bean, we’ve always been committed to introducing newcomers to the sport of fly fishing – in the easiest and most affordable way possible. Our Angler Fly Rod Outfit comes loaded with backing, a floating line and a leader – just tie on a fly, and in minutes you’re ready to fish. We worked closely with both beginning fly casters and our Fly-Fishing School instructors to develop a smooth medium-action rod that makes it easy for anyone to learn the graceful art of fly casting. A quality composite reel with a click and pawl drag and high-quality graphite ensure that you, your kids and your grandkids can learn from the same outfit. Includes handy rod carrying tube for storage and transport. Imported.



Length: No information available
Line weight : 5/6
Number of sections: 4
Includes Reel: Yes
MSRP: $95

This Trout Fly Fishing Outfit includes a high quality 4-piece 5/6 weight graphite rod for smooth and easy casting. Preloaded disc drag reel ready to fish with the specific line and flies designed to work well for panfish.  Also includes a special 2 in 1 DVD with “Fly Fishing Made Easy” and “Panfish and Bass with Larry Dahlberg.”

Included in this kit:

• 4-piece, 5/6 weight graphite rod
• Lightweight for smooth and easy casting
• Pre-Loaded Scientific Anglers Concept 2 Fly Reel Loaded with backing, Scientific Anglers fly line and leader, and is ready to use
• Fly Box with Flies
• 2-in-1 Instructional DVD (the contents of both of the DVD titles below are included on a single special-issue DVD)


Based on these offerings from reputable manufacturers, young anglers don’t have to fish with junk equipment that’s little more than a colorful toy, and parents don’t have to break the bank to get quality gear for their kids.  Kids are the future of the sport, so get them away from their video games, get them a rod they’ll be thrilled to call their own, tie on a woolly bugger, and take ’em fishing! You’ll be glad you did, and so will they.

Check out the comprehensive listing of kids fly fishing gear at Take Kids Fly Fishing. In addition to rods and reel outfits, the site lists waders and boots, vests, hats and clothing, books and DVDs as well as fly fishing camps and clinics for kids and kid-friendly fly fishing guides. It’s a tremendous resource!

Win an Olive Sticker

Here are the Free Contest Rules:

• The first person to post a comment and correctly answer one of the three questions below will receive a free Olive sticker.

• You must be the first person to comment with the correct answer for one of the questions. If someone answers one of the questions before you do, you can still win by correctly answering one of the other questions.  Once all three questions have been correctly answered, game over!

• There will be up to three winners.

Here are the questions:

Question #1: In the third Olive book, Olive Goes for a Wild Ride, what is the name of the fly who “finds” Olive floating unconscious on a stick at the end of the story?

Question #2: In the first book, Olive the Little Woolly Bugger, what is the name of the fly who teases Olive and does not make it into The Fly Box?

Question #3: In the second book, Olive and The Big Stream, what is the name of the fly who bounces along the bottom of the river and has his forked tail bent and bruised?

If you don’t want to play along with the contest, you can purchase the stickers for $3 by jumping over to Myflies.com.  For every sticker sold, $1.50 goes directly to Casting 4 A Cure.

Olive is about more than just fly fishing.

You can’t judge a book by its cover. Now there’s an expression we’ve all heard before, and we all know that it has a dual meaning that goes beyond the literal translation. In the case of a certain series of childrens fly fishing books, the average person may not need to look beyond the cover to find the books worthy of purchase for the kids in their lives.  Afterall, if you like fly fishing, you likely want to share that passion with your children. But what if you’re a discerning parent looking for more than just a book about fly fishing – a book with some substance?  Or perhaps you’re not an angler yourself and the thought of a book about fly fishing has no interest to you and therefore no interest to your child? You really can’t know what truly lies beneath the surface without having read the book.

A childrens book has to be about something – there has to be some substance/message or no publisher worth their salt would choose to acquire the title.  So what is Olive all about?  Simply looking at the titles of the books, that answer may seem obvious: they’re books about fly fishing, right? True, and if that weren’t obvious then I would have failed miserably! Olive the Little Woolly Bugger, Olive and The Big Stream, and Olive Goes for a Wild Ride are books clearly having something to do with fly fishing.  But open the cover and read the stories within and you’ll find that just as there’s more to fishing than catching fish, there’s more to Olive than just fly fishing.

In Olive the Little Woolly Bugger, our central character goes off to Camp Tightloops to learn to become a fishing fly.  There she learns the basics of fly casting and presentation and the need for barbless hooks. She also learns basic fly fishing terminology and how different flies are used in different situations. Pretty straightforward fly fishing stuff.  But she also learns about perseverance and unfortunately what it’s like to be an outcast: life lessons that go beyond the river bank or lake shore.

Through her adventure in the next book, Olive and The Big Stream, Olive puts what she has learned to the test and goes fishing for the very first time.  She obviously learns of the importance of catch and release fishing as she successfully hooks and lands her first wild trout, but again, there’s more.  She has learned compassion and the need to accept others who may be different, and when her friends fail on their first attempts at fishing she knows better than to tease and taunt. She knows firsthand what it’s like to be the recipient of such harmful behavior, and displays kindness to all others. She also learns to respect the very thing that makes fishing what it is: fish.

In the third book, Olive Goes for a Wild Ride, Olive becomes separated from her friends and faces the fears that all kids would should they become lost.  She soon hooks up with a stranger who befriends her and the two set off on a wild adventure where Olive, who up to this point has always been the student, becomes the teacher.  Together she and her friend explore a wild river and learn about each other and all that is important in the great circle of life.

The obvious point of the books is to introduce younger children to fly fishing – to plant a seed of interest in hopes of getting kids outside and participating in a wonderful experience.  Who knows, if Olive is a child’s introduction into the world of fly fishing, maybe they’ll become future stewards of our resources. Along the way hopefully they’ll learn to be accepting of others who are different from themselves.  Compassion goes a long way in creating people of strong character. To that end we can all learn from Olive.

So yes, Olive is all about fly fishing.  But she is about so much more as well.

And just as Olive is about more than just fly fishing, profit from sales of the books is about much more than just making a few bucks.  A percentage of proceeds from the sale of all books is donated to two groups that use fly fishing as a means of raising money to help fund research for childhood diseases:

Hooked On a Cure, hosts an annual fly fishing event to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Casting 4 A Cure, uses fly fishing events to raise money for the International Rett Syndrome Foundation to help fund research for Rett Syndrome and support for families dealing with special needs kids.

Both groups are led by fabulous, compassionate people that happen to love fly fishing. When I learned of these groups it became obvious that Olive needed to do what she could to help. What better than a series of books for kids about fly fishing, helping groups of people who use fly fishing to help kids?

So if you’re heard of the Olive series of fly fishing books for kids, consider taking a closer look. If you’ve never heard of them until now, I also ask that you look beneath the surface to see what the books have to offer.

You truly cannot accurately judge a book by the cover, and exploring beneath the surface may yield some pleasant surprises.  Fishing dries on the surface is fun, but an astute angler knows that fish take the majority of their meals under water.  Exploring the depths is what makes the woolly bugger such an effective and popular pattern.  Take a closer look- I think you’ll get hooked on Olive the Woolly Bugger, and by doing so you’ll be helping kids in more ways than one.

Woolly Buggers are everywhere.

It would seem that the infamous Woolly Bugger figures prominently beyond the fly fishing world.

From time to time I’ll employ either Google or Bing to explore the depths the interweb using the search phrase “woolly bugger”, mainly to see where my fly fishing books show up in the search results.  It’s sort of like using an actual woolly bugger pattern to search the depths of a particularly fishy looking hole, prospecting for a hungry fish.  As one would expect, the search results produce nearly countless sites for the actual woolly bugger pattern: retailers selling flies, tiers offering recipes for creating the pattern, tips on how to fish the woolly bugger, etc.  Occasionally an interesting result turns up that has nothing directly to do with fly fishing.

Take, for example, the Woolly Bugger Roaster of Fine Coffee.  This site caught my attention because I do like a good cuppa joe, and obviously the name was intriguing. One has to assume that the owners are fly anglers because your average non-angling person wouldn’t know what a woolly bugger is, let alone name their company after the heralded streamer pattern. There is no direct declaration of the founders being fly fishing folks, but I’m willing to go out on a limb and wager that the assumption is a safe one.  A quote from their website says it all:

“More than half the enjoyment of fly-fishing is derived from the beautiful surroundings.”

-Charles Orvis

Another interesting find in the world of the woolly bugger is the Blackfoot River Brewing Company‘s Woolly Bugger Ale. Their offerings are “Real Good Beer, Made by Real Good People.”  I’ve not met the people, or sampled their beer, but anyone willing to name a product after the woolly bugger is top notch in my book. Since the brewery is located in Helena, Montana, it’s another safe bet that the founders have been known to angle with a fly. Montana is, afterall, mecca for trout fishing. The Missouri River, as it flows near Helena, is reported to have a few fish in it.

Boise, Idaho is home to the Sockeye Grill and Brewery, where one of their offerings is…(drumroll please)…Woolybugger Wheat Ale, which they have this to say about: “This American style wheat ale has a light grain flavor with a low hop profile. It’s light bodied and very thirst quenching!”  Sounds worthy of the name, Woolly Bugger, or rather, Woolybugger.  So many variations on the name it can get confusing!

It would seem that beer makers seem to appreciate fly fishing, or perhaps vice versa, because we have another brewery who produces a malt beverage named for the woolly bugger. The Grand Lake Brewing Company of Grand Lake, Colorado, offers their Wooley Booger Nut Brown Ale.  Again we see a disparity in how the name should be spelled, which was discussed in the previous entry here. No matter how you spell it, a wooly bugger is a wooley booger is a woolly bugger. Not sure about the “booger” spelling though.  In Olive the Little Woolly Bugger, our favorite streamer fly is taunted and teased by a group of snobby dry flies. One such fly, Randal the Royal Coachman, insults Olive by calling her a Woolly Booger.  Not nice, Randal, and that’ll come back to haunt you. At any rate, I’m sure the Wooley Booger Nut Brown Ale is excellent.  Unfortunately their website needs some help.  Perhaps the owners of Grand Lake Brewing Company should hook up with the next woolly buggerish company…

Wooly Booger’s Web Design. It would seem not all afficionados of the woolly bugger are coffee and beer makers.  Again we see the curious reference to “booger”, which always conjures up interesting images.

Woolly Bugger Studios is home to a couple of creative folks who also had the good sense to name their business after the ubiquitous woolly bugger. Photographer Lark Gilmer Smothermon and editor Charles Smothermon set up shop near Sheridan, Montana and they even got the spelling right ; )

Wooly Bugger Productions of Medford, Oregon, offers creative audio recording services for a wide variety of needs. If I ever land a deal to produce an animated TV show featuring Olive the Little Woolly Bugger, I’m going to contact these folks first! On their website they make it clear that they’re fly anglers:

“Depending on what part of the country you live in and your recreational hobbies, a Wooly Bugger could mean a few things. For us, it’s a “fly” that fly-fishermen use to fish for Steelhead and Trout. That’s where our logo comes from! Our second passion, after production, is fishing! We wanted to give the business a name that people would remember and that would reflect a bit of our lifestyle here in the great Pacific Northwest. We had a great time creating our cool mascot!”

Cool indeed- your business sounds great, folks!

I wasn’t able to find an actual website for Woolly Bugger Farm in Wartburg, Tennessee, but they do have a Facebook page. I decided to “like” the page so I can find out more about this curious farming operation, which apparently grows soap (or rather, they make soap and sell it under their Woolly Bugger Farm label). I doubt they grow woolly buggers, but perhaps they have a stream running through their property filled with hungry trout? Looks like a cool operation nestled in a beautiful setting.

Another interesting find is Wooly Bugger Media, a company offering media planning and buying services. If I ever have an advertising budget, I’ll have to inquire with them about a media blitz.

Thankfully another result that shows up (on the first page of results) when searching for “woolly bugger” is my own website, olivethewoollybugger.com. I hope you’ll check it out some time.

If you’re the proprietor of a business or organization that makes use of the Woolly Bugger (or some variation of the spelling) in your name, leave a comment here. I’ll shout you out in a future blog entry.  After all, we woolly buggers have to stick together- there’s a lot of water to cover out there.

Why the Woolly Bugger?

For those inclined toward fly fishing, the word(s) “Woolly Bugger” is as common as “rod” and “reel”. For those who are not in the fly fishing know, Woolly Bugger is certainly a curious term.

Rather than use up a bunch of bandwidth trying to offer an eloquent description of the Woolly Bugger here, let me point you to perhaps the single best explanation available, written by Cameron Larsen, titled the Ubiquitous Woolly Bugger. That pretty much sums it up.

The Woolly Bugger can be tied in many variations. It’s just as common to see them tied sparsely as it is to see them fat and real bushy. Some are tied using bead heads, some using tungsten cone heads, and some with dumbell eyes for additional weight and “realisim” in representing a baitfish.  Traditionally the Woolly Bugger is not overly ornate, tied in brown, black and of course olive marabou, chenille and hackle. Over time tiers have gotten liberal in using a wide variety of colors and additional material.  It’s not uncommon to see the Woolly Bugger tied using rubber legs and a bit of flash, as if the uber-effective patterns needed anything besides their big bushy tails to set gamefish into a tizzy.  They are effective, and perhaps the most versatile of all flies because they represent so much, yet nothing in particular, in the water.  Whatever the case may be, the Woolly Bugger spells “food” for fish. And not just trout.  Everything from bass to steelhead will hit a woolly bugger if you present the fly properly.

It’s been said:  “The Woolly Bugger is so effective, it should be banned from some watersheds. I suspect its effectiveness is due to its resemblance to so many edible creatures in the water–nymphs, leeches, salamanders, or even small sculpins. Its tail undulating behind a fiber, bubble-filled body is just too much for most fish to resist. It just looks like a meal!” – Bill Hunter, The Professionals’ Favorite Flies

I couldn’t have said it any better myself.

As for how to fish the Woolly Bugger, Gary Soucie wrote a great article for Midcurrent that comprehensively covers just about everything you need to know. Read the article here.

Just as there are many variations of the fly pattern itself, the spelling of the name seems to be up for debate, or at least interpretation, as well.  One will find many different ways to communicate the same thing:

Wooly Bugger. Wooley Bugger. Woolley Bugger. Wolly Bugger. Wolley Bugger (the latter two I assume are innocent typographical errors). The list may go on.  I myself prefer Woolly Bugger – it  looks as if that’s how it should be spelled.

And “Woolly” has a certain playfulness to it which was an important consideration when deciding to name a series of fly fishing books for kids after the fly. The funny looking name certainly lends itself well to a children’s book, and admit it – “woolly bugger” is fun to say.   I read once where the decision to name a book is critical (this seemed obvious to me). The article cited J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter as an easy name to remember because it’s unusual. I believe Olive the Woolly Bugger is equally as unusual as Harry Potter – perhaps even moreso.  But Harry Potter’s success isn’t due just to the name, and I seriously doubt I’ll be the next J.K. Rowlings. That’s fine with me although I would like to sell even a fraction of the books she has.

To the unindoctrinated, a Woolly Bugger is a curious name of considerable whimsy, so it was a perfect title to hook readers.  Olive, as a color,  is one of the traditional and best known variations, and for obvious reasons became a logical choice when naming the central character.  Calling her “Black the Little Woolly Bugger” or “Brown the Little Woolly Bugger” just wouldn’t have had the same appeal, so the clear choice became “Olive the Little Woolly Bugger”.

Nothing in this world is without complications, however, and it would seem that something as innocent as a children’s book about fly fishing stands to encounter some challenges.  Shortly after having the books published I received a very nice email from a gentleman in England.  He pointed out to me that in the UK, the term “bugger” carries with it certain “negative” connotations, and that I might be up against a bit if a struggle marketing my books in the UK.  I thanked him for his nice note and acknowledged my familiarity with the unfortunate association.  However, I am confident that fly anglers in the United Kingdom are well aware of the Woolly Bugger (and hopefully by now Olive the Little Woolly Bugger), and can enjoy each without being offended.

I assure you that Olive the Little Woolly Bugger is nothing more than good, clean fun for kids and those who are kids at heart.

Fly Fishing Books For Kids

According to the Outdoor Foundation, fishing is the top “gateway” activity, spurring involvement in other outdoor activities:

“The future of any sport lies in engaging its youngest members, so reaching individuals in their early years is critical,” said The Outdoor Foundation Executive Director Christine Fanning.

The Outdoor Foundation is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to inspiring and growing future generations of outdoor enthusiasts. Through ground-breaking research, action-oriented convening and outreach and education programs, The Foundation is working with partners to mobilize a major cultural shift that leads all Americans to the great outdoors. For more information about the Outdoor Foundation, visit www.outdoorfoundation.org.

That’s right, folks – fishing is good for kids. And Olive the Woolly Bugger exists for the sole purpose of getting kids interested in fishing. There will be no disguising the fact that this blog exists for the main purpose of promoting the Olive series of fly fishing books. The central character of Olive the Woolly Bugger is the sole creation of author and illustrator Kirk Werner (that would be me).

The goal of the books (there are three in the series to date) is to introduce kids to the sport of fly fishing, with hopes that those young readers will then beg their parents to take them fishing.  It doesn’t matter if they fish with a fly rod, or a spinning setup or a bait casting reel: the important thing is to get kids outside, enjoying all that nature has to offer, and away from their video game controllers.  Kids need to dig in the dirt, play in the water and enjoy the things that previous generations grew up doing. More and more the simple pleasures that many of us took for granted growing up is being lost on today’s youth.  Face it, it’s a different world. Time changes the way our society functions. But some things should never change. Unless we get kids interested in fishing, we’ll be without stewards of the resource tomorrow. With the resource (fish, clean water, and the environment) in dire need of anglers to watch over it, what hope is there for the future? Kids are our hope.  Talk to kids about fishing.  Read to them about fishing. Take that kid fishing.  You’ll be glad you did.

I also hope to use this forum to promote fly fishing, and fishing in general, for kids.  If you know of a good book or website that is fishing and kid-related, contact me about getting it listed/featured on this site.  In the meantime please check out the sites I’ve listed so far, and come back often. I hope you’ll get hooked on Olive the Woolly Bugger. And I hope you’ll take a kid fishing.

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