Al Campbell, Field Editor

February 9th, 2004

Too Simple San Juan Worm

Al Campbell

When it concerns flies and tying them, there are few flies easier to tie than the San Juan Worm. However, if you just need a few of these and you need them fast, there is a workable shortcut to an effective fly. I especially like this pattern when I want to tie up a few SJ worms in small sizes.

Contrary to popular opinion, the SJ worm does NOT imitate a garden-variety worm. Instead, it is supposed to represent an aquatic worm. For those of you who have never observed an aquatic worm, I encourage you to obtain a nymph net and do some prospecting in a portion of a stream that has a mixed sandy and muddy bottom. Odds are you'll find a few of these small critters in your net if you do.

Some aquatic worms can grow to about the size of a small garden worm.

But most are small like the one pictured here that is smaller than many scuds and sow bugs.

Like a garden worm, they have a pronounced band around them near the fattest part of the worm. Sometimes that band is rather thick, especially when they are in their reproductive stages. Adding a rather large band to your worm imitation can sometimes produce better results than just an off-colored band. This pattern produces an oversized band that I think sometimes produces better results. It is also tied in small sizes to imitate the most common sizes of aquatic worms (small). Whether you prefer this tie or not, you have to admit that it is very simple; maybe too simple.

Too Simple Blood Worm:

List of materials:
  • Hook: - Any standard nymph hook, even cheap ones will do. I'm using a size 16 Mustad 3399A hook.

  • Tail: - Same as body.

  • Body: - Micro ultra chenille. I'm using orange here, but shades of brown and red are also very productive.

  • Thread: - 6/0 Color isn't very important because it will be buried under the body. I'm using bright red.

  • Cement: - None needed, but you can use head cement if you want a more durable fly. Just apply it directly to the band portion of the body.

Tying steps:

    1. Start the thread.

    2. Secure the micro ultra chenille to the hook.

    3. Tie off the thread and trim.

    4. Make a half-wrap of ultra chenille.

    5. Use a whip finisher to create the body by whip knotting the ultra chenille. Use as little tension as possible when you do this so it will be easy to pull the ultra chenille body tight.

    6. When you have completely covered your thread base, remove the whip finisher and pull the whip knot tight. For you guys who whip finish by hand, this should be an easy task.

    7. Use a lighter to melt the tips of the ultra chenille by holding the flame close to the tips. Your finished fly should look something like this.

Too simple? Maybe you could use some more time fishing and less time at the vise? This fly can provide that extra time. ~ AC

Previous Al Campell Columns

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