Simple, effective worm flies deserve a place in your box. Here’s why


Worm flies come in a variety of colours, weights and styles


A worm fly looks so unlike typical insect or baitfish imitations that it can leave you scratching your head about how to fish it. To simplify things, think of it as a nymph. Similar to an immature aquatic insect, a worm drifts helplessly with the current, perhaps wiggling a little in a tragic and ineffectual way. So, dead drift a worm fly naturally at the speed of the current, typically close to the bottom, either with or without an indicator. You can also use a worm as the deep fly in a hopper-dropper double-fly rig. And they’re a solid choice for high-sticking, where you drift the fly on a short, tight line close to the bank.

Finally, if you’re new to the whole idea of worm flies, and not deeply immersed in fly lore, it might come as a surprise to you to learn there are anglers who view these patterns as distasteful. Their criticism seems to be that imitating a worm, rather than a delicate and sparkling mayfly, is somehow debased or impure.


There’s plenty of room in fly-fishing for many different viewpoints, and I try to be tolerant of them all, no matter how ridiculous or snooty. But as renowned fly-fishing writer Tom Rosenbauer has sensibly pointed out, you can’t blame worms for being born into the wrong order of invertebrates. I’d also note that the fish are choosing to eat worms, and it’s not my job to police their diet—any more than I want some nosey brown trout giving me the stink eye if I take a second slice of pie.