The uglies: 9 flies that aren’t pretty, but catch a whole lot of fish

The uglies

These flies may not be easy on the eyes, but they sure do a beautiful job of catching fish


Believe it or not, more than a few purists and snobs still object to worm flies. Well, those nerds are going to have a conniption over the Squirmy Wormy. But they’re perfectly welcome to stomp their feet and pop blood vessels while the rest of us catch a bunch of fish on this ludicrous, yet amazing, fly.


We’ve long understood that small worms are an important trout food. The first well-known worm imitation is the San Juan Worm, which is just a piece of chenille tied to a hook. It’s a pretty decent fly, and the chenille looks fairly wormlike, but it doesn’t really move properly. Then open-minded fly tiers discovered soft plastics, and the Squirmy Wormy was born. It shimmies and jiggles unlike anything else, making it without question the world’s most lethal worm fly.

However, the Squirmy is also tricky to tie, because applying even light pressure with your tying thread slices the rubbery material. The version pictured here, with a fur body, solves that problem. To make it, dub a little fur on the tying thread, then use that thicker, blunter section of thread to safely lash down the worm. Try it in any wormy color, including red, pink, brown and lime.


  • HOOK: Short-shank wet, sizes 8 to 12
  • BEAD (optional): Copper, black or red tungsten
  • OVERBODY: Fine dubbing
  • RIB (optional): Fine wire
  • TAIL/BODY: Spirit River Squirmy Wormies, Sili Worm or similar
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