Sunday’s Classic / 4 Worm Patterns I Always Carry In My Fly Box

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This wild brown trout chose to dine on a squirmy wormy. Photo By: Louis Cahill

Worm Fly Patterns That Consistently Catch Fish

It’s no secret worm patterns are super consistent most of the year for catching both stocked and wild trout. They work especially well for stocked fish, after a big rain, and during the spring, winter, and fall seasons. I’ve had days when the only thing I could get trout to eat was a San Juan worm. There’s a bunch of haters out there that will not fish them, claiming it’s the next closest thing to fishing a real earthworm, but look in their fly box and I bet you’ll find a few. I on the other hand, have no problem fishing worm patterns, because they do a great job of keeping my clients rods bent, which in turn, pays my bills. To top it all off, worm patterns are among the cheapest and easiest fly patterns for me to tie. I can rip out about a dozen in less than ten minutes, for about $2.50 worth of materials. Choosing to put worm patterns in your fishing line-up, will almost certainly put more fish in your net. Below are four worm patterns I always keep in my fly box.

The Chamois “Shammy” Worm

Yes, you read the name right, this fly is made out of a car drying chamois. For $10-14 you can buy one and tie about 100+ chamois worms with it. This pattern can be deadly after a fresh rain, when earthworms have been washed from the banks into the stream. Once the chamois material gets wet, it looks just like a live worm. I tie them in all sizes, but for my larger versions I often will tie a monofilament loop off the bend of the hook to keep the chamois material from fouling and wrapping around the hook. Most of the time you won’t find the chamios worm in fly bins at the fly shop. That means to some degree, there will be less anglers fishing this pattern. That can pay off when all you need to catch fish is to show the trout a little something different.

Flourescent Pink “Flash” San Juan Worm

This attractor worm pattern fished in the standard ultra-chenille and micro-chenille size are fish catching machines. The added piece of flashabou or krystal flash gives it a little more pop and attraction than the “plain jane” version. If the standard size isn’t working, try tying on the micro-chenille version, sometimes that’s all it takes. I usually carry this pattern in fire red as well, and I’ll tie it a little shorter in Fluorescent green when the inch worms are out in the summer.

Squirmy Wormy

The good folks at Spirit River, manufactures and sells this life-life stretchy tying material perfectly suited for worm patterns. Just like the life-life action the car chamois provides, the squirmy wormy material equally fools fish into thinking your fly is alive with its incredible movement in the water. With a wide variety of colors options, you can tie up a nice stash of squirmy’s that will work in different conditions. Spirit River now makes a jumbo size in the Squirmy Wormy material perfect for high water conditions. When you can’t find the Spirit River material, a good substitute (Rubber Koosh Balls that light up when squeezed) can be found in the kids toy section of your local Walmart or Dollar General. The legs of the balls work great worm patterns. All you need is some super glue.

Delektable Soft-Hackle Worm

This buggy looking worm created by Riverborn Fly Company, has caught loads of fish for me over the years. It’s really durable, has a unique profile, and the bead gets the fly down fast. It’s a go to pattern for me when fish are being picky. I stock this pattern it in the standard and micro size in red, brown, pink, and orange.

I hope this post has persuaded a few of you to stock more worm patterns in your fly box. There has to be something said for the effectiveness of these patterns, when I consistently find them being fished by just about all my peers. I’ve traveled coast to coast and I’ve yet to find a location where a worm pattern won’t catch trout.

Keep it Reel,

Come fish with us in the Bahamas!

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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11 thoughts on “Sunday’s Classic / 4 Worm Patterns I Always Carry In My Fly Box

  1. No shame here! I ALWAYS carry worm patterns with me no matter where or when I’m fishing. I’ve got every pattern listed here but the soft hackle version in my fly box at all times, and one that I’ll add that I fish quite often is the Vladi worm (aka condom worm). I’ll fish Vladis and squirmies even if the water is low and gin clear. It’s hard for any trout to not at least take a look. On days where the water is clear I’ll often trail a hares ear or soft hackle about 18″-20″ behind….. Deadly combo.

  2. Great list of worm patterns. I have to admit, that while none are truly go-to flies for me, they all have their times and places on the end of my tippet.

    I always have a variety of squirmy worms in one of my fly boxes. Red, orange, green, UV, all have caught tough fish under difficult conditions. Nothing like the squirmy (or other patterns) during a heavy rain – underneath an undercut/eroding bank.

    The San Juan Eggy is also a great pattern for use during various spawning runs.

  3. Why not fish worms? Imitating a bug that’s floating along in the river is okay, but not a worm? To hell with these arbitrary lines on what makes a sportsman.

    • Rob,

      I’ll have to wait until I can meet up with Louis again to shoot that video. He’s heading out of town tomorrow.

      Yes, it does have ribbing but it’s not necessary. It’s basically a standard San Juan worm with a bead and one partridge hen hackle wrapped around the hook, finished off with some dubbing that matches the color of the chenille. Try giving it a shot in the meantime. I bet you can tie a close version just looking at the photo.


  4. Great suff Kent…I chomis worm and squirmy’s are go to flies for me. You can alos color your chamois and add a bead head. I tie a red chomis worm that crushes em. Keep it coming fellas.

  5. I’m coloring them with a sharpie. I haven’t been able to dig up and colored chamois. I alos wrap the chaomis material up to the bead much like your squirmy tie.

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  7. I had a real problem fishing worms and glo-bugs however I eventually decided to try both patterns because the New Zealand trout demanded it and it only took me five years ( LOL) , on my go at the glo-bug I was getting bows on the winter run up to eight pounds – so this summer I tied up some red worms and after a down pour I went to my local river and nailed a bow , next cast I was totally smashed ! Glo-Bugs and Worms are now in my box and even with my success I still dont use them first ! I have just tied up some chamois worms . . as I use it for my caddis patterns – fingers crossed !!

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