Video: How to Tie the Squirmy Wormy

The Squirmy Wormy is one of those flies that might be slightly embarrassing to tie on, but you’ll get over that once you’ve caught a few fish on it. Originally designed by Dave Hise of Caster’s Fly Shop in Hickory, North Carolina (although he spelled it “Wormie”), the fly is an obvious variation on the famed San Juan Worm. What sets it apart from its forbears is the use of rubbery material for the body. Tar Heel State anglers kept the secret to themselves for a while, but soon the USA Youth Fly Fishing Team was using the Squirmy Wormy to win the 2014 World Youth Fly Fishing Championships. In fact, one international team tried unsuccessfully to get the pattern banned from competition.

Traditionally, the two biggest problems with tying what seems like a simple pattern have been 1. controlling the rubbery material, and 2. wrapping the rubber without the thread cutting through it. Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions has come up with a simple, elegant solution that solves both problems at once. After watching this video, you’ll be able to churn out Squirmy Wormy patterns by the dozen in no time!

And if you’ve got the bandwidth, make sure watch Tim’s videos in full 4K resolution. You’ve never seen fly tying look so good.

          Squirmy Wormy
          Hook: Scud/pupa hook (here, a Dai-Riki #135), size 14.
          Thread: Red, 6/0 or 140-denier.
          Underbody/overbody: Red Superfine Dubbing.
          Body: Red Sili Worm, half a strand.

14 thoughts on “Video: How to Tie the Squirmy Wormy”

  1. Useful video. I am new to fly tying and fly fishing and I feel this is an easy fly to learn. I would find this article more useful if the materials had a permalink attached to them.

  2. I was thinking that by burning the ends a more natural appearance would result or cutting at an angle the ends to make more life like. I have not worked with this material but if suggestions are possible it would enhance the pattern.

    1. Great ideas Melvin and I’ve tried them both. The angled cuts looked ok but really didn’t contribute enough to add it as a necessary tying step. Burning the ends did look pretty darn good but with this particular Wapsi brand of worm material, the stuff burned rather readily. I mean like legitimately caught on fire surprisingly fast and released black smoke which I thought would stink but really didn’t. Anyway, if you don’t get the flame blown out quickly you’re going to end up with an abbreviated worm. Again, thought it best not to include as a step.

  3. Great fly! I have personally tied a lot of variations of this fly with this material. That being said, there is a few things I can recommend for anyone new to these flies/material.

    •1 Some types of head cement will melt this material causing it to fall off almost immediately.

    •2 Making tight wraps onto this material while tying can cut through the “worm” and also cause it to fall apart. Use caution while tying these down onto your hooks.

    •3 Burning the ends of this material to create a rounded, worm like look is a little tricky but most certainly can be done.

    All in all, it’s a very fun, simple and effective fly. Mess around with variations (beads, dubbing, etc…) Good luck and tight lines everyone!

  4. I like them. Started tying them almost 10 years ago just in spite of the purists but more importantly to imitate a natural food source. Tubifex tubifex (silt worm).

    1. This fly is deadly on the Truckee river, while the traditional San Juan worm does not work as well. I think this material has unique movement that mimics local food sources better than the SJW.

    2. Hi Bob,
      I find the squirmy to be more life like and the trout seem to hold it a tad longer than the San Juan. Still I like both patterns.

      Earl Morgan

  5. Volatile adhesives will definitely melt the material. But you can coat the dubbed portion with Fly-Tite, which works well. It doesn’t melt or damage the material. Fly-Tite is alcohol and plant-based. Fly-Tite can be thinned with denatured alcohol. A small can may be purchased at your local hardware store and last for a lifetime.

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