Sunday’s Classic / 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 few 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 fluorescent pink, chartreuse, and the right color 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. Probably more like 200 worm flies.

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. You can also just thread each leg on the hook, dab some superglue on the hook, and push the two legs together. Wah-lah, you’ve got a great worm pattern without ever having to pick up your bobbin.

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,

Come fish with us in the Bahamas!

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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12 thoughts on “Sunday’s Classic / DIY – Kids Puffer Balls for Fly Tying

  1. Careful with the superglue and sticking them together. I know (first hand experience) that Sally Hansens melts those things! Turn em straight to mush and they fall apart. But for a dollar a ball, it is worth a shot! I have had great success fishing these, what I like to call, “danglers”. Bluegills and trout can’t keep their greedy mouths off of them.

  2. Kent,

    My buddy showed me one of these flies this winter that he picked up out West, and I finally located a purple and a fluorescent pink toy. I am going to be on the lookout for more, as they do work. I want to find a dark red and a tan one if they have them. Pretty cheap for such an effective material.

  3. These things are great. I first ran across them at Michaels while I was grabbing some DMC and other tying related stuff. I bought a couple colors and I’ve used the heck out of them. Trout and bluegill especially seem to love this material. Get the green for spring time inch worms, and put a little life in that greenie weenie. I also found a ball with large, red tentacles that I tie a super squirmy with. I dont think its the same as what Craig mentioned above, but It works awesomely in dirty water.

  4. Oh the joys of the squirmy worm! Like my Pop Pop used to say, ” If I were a fish, I’d bite that “! A deffinent fish producer. I tye them with tungsten beads and use as my anchor fly and some times tye them on a jig hook. Any way you tye them one thing is for sure, you are going to set the hook on a trout! God Bless

  5. Pingback: Tippets: DIY Tying Materials, Endangered Rivers, NOAA Sportfishing Policy | MidCurrent

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