Simple but effective, wiggler imitations deserve a place in your fly box
Developed in the U.S. southwest in the 1970s, the San Juan Worm (above) was the first fly of its type to gain wide popularity. Featuring just an inch of red chenille (a type of fuzzy yarn) lashed to a small hook, with loose ends extending past the bend and the eye, it’s brilliant in its simplicity. A more recent version is the Squirmy Wormy (below), which replaces the chenille with gummy soft-plastic material.
Both patterns can also be tied with a bead for extra weight, and the colour palette has expanded to include pink, brown, tan, yellow and lime. You’ll see worm flies ranging in size from one to three inches in length, tied on hooks from size 16 up to 4. Just match the size of the fly and hook to the size of the fish you’re targeting, and you’ll be in the game. I do happen to think the soft-plastic Squirmy looks more lifelike in the water, especially in large sizes, but I’ve never observed any preference from the fish.