DIY – Kids Puffer Balls for Fly Tying

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Raiding The Kids Toy Aisles for Fly Tying Materials. Photo By: Louis Cahill

I’ve been tying San Juan Worm patterns for a couple years now with Spirit River’s Squirmy Wormies, and fish love them because of the life-like movement the material has in the water.

That being said, I’ve had problems finding certain colors like Flourescent Pink, Chartreuse, and Green. My buddy and guide Erik Ashlin turned me onto Kids Puffer Balls. They’re a spin off from the famous “Koosh Ball”, that many of us enjoyed playing dodge ball with in the 80s and 90s, and they come in just about any color you can imagine. You can find them at your local Dollar General and Walmart stores for $5 or less, and you can tie at least 100 flies from just one of them.

In a pinch, Erik points out, you can snip one of the legs off, and tie it on a hook with a simple overhand knot. No bobbin, vise, or tying thread is needed. Just cinch the knot down evenly on the hook and the material will stay in place. Personally, when I have the time to tie them at the vise, I like to tie one leg on each end of the hook and wrap a couple strands of Spanflex around the middle of the hook for a smooth proportioned body. That’s just personal preference though, either tying method works.

Don’t just tie San Juan Worms, I’ve been using them for inch-worm patterns, caddis larva, and even wrapping the hook with them for bright bodies on my nymphs. This is a cheap and versatile product that you should be able to find several purposes for in your fly tying. We hope you enjoyed this week’s DIY (Do It Yourself) tip from Gink & Gasoline.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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11 thoughts on “DIY – Kids Puffer Balls for Fly Tying

  1. Some of my friends witnessed a lady in NC slaying fish on this very worm in high water when no one else was catching diddly. They called her “Nell”.

  2. NW steelhead.

    Thread base, a few wraps, chenille or cactus chenille.

    If you can’t get yourself to fish an indicator, ignore the above suggestion.

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  4. Pingback: CDC loop wing emerger, earth day, puff ball worm material —

  5. I have a buddy that tyes these from Cody, Wy. He calls them the “WalMart Wiggler.” Due to fact that they used to be so plentiful at that store.

  6. Can you be more specific on actually tying this? I have been trying and it is like tying snot on a hook.

    • Fish Hag,

      First thing you need to do is use larger size thread like 3/0 or Larger. Take several easy wraps first, then start increasing pressure with further wraps. I like to incorporate super glue after I thread the material on the hook like I’m rigging a plastic worm. It takes a little time to get the hang of this tying material. Another tactic you can use is to tie one end on the bend of the hook just like you start off tying a san jaun worm, and then wrap the remaining material towards the eye of the hook and tie it off. Wrap it forward tight and the material will hold into place.


  7. the gentleman who called the walmart wiggler is about right.

    i was looking for a koosh ball to cut up for rubber legs when my wife brought one these home.

    the fisrt try i just cut a tentacle off and impaled it on #8 eagle claw baitholder and went out and caught some fish.

    now i use beadheads and soft hackle collars as the mood strikes. even glow in the dark beads for night fishing, it actually seems to make a difference

    carp seem to like orange…you get it.

    amazing what a fish will take.

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