Fly Tying: The Squirmy Worm presented by Tightline Productions

by Tim Flagler

In many fly fishing circles, the word “worm” is considered, well, a four letter word. With the possible exception of egg patterns, nothing draws the ire of traditionalists quite like a worm. Whatever you think of them, just about all fly fishermen will admit how well they work and that fish of nearly all species feed regularly on both terrestrial and aquatic varieties. The once controversial chenille or vernille based San Juan Worm now almost seems blasé as compared to more modern worm imitations that incorporate materials many consider to be simply too synthetic. Enter the "Squirmy Wormy”. The original version as tied by North Carolinian Dave Hise, and spelled “Squirmy Wormie”, has long been a staple particularly in the fly boxes of guides and competitive fly fishers.

Nowadays, the material to make a Squirmy Wormy is readily available from a number of different manufacturers in a varieties of sizes, colors and compositions. The stuff can be an absolute bear to work with and seems to have a mind of its own when it comes to securing it to a hook. It is also not the most durable material known to man and has the nasty tendency to deteriorate into little jelly-like chunks when left in a fly box inside a hot vehicle. All that aside, if you really feel the need to catch fish and truthfully, who among us doesn’t? It may be in your best interest to get hold of some Squirmy Wormy material and tie up a few. The following video shows a simple method for securing it to your hook without driving yourself completely nuts or decreasing the material’s durability. I, of course, would never lower my fly fishing standards and fish anything even resembling a Squirmy Wormy.

It’s size 18 and under, Catskill-style dries or nothing for me! And if you believe that one . . .

Material List for The 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 

Tim Flagler is the owner of Tightline Productions, L.L.C., a video production company located in Califon, NJ. Although Tightline produces video programs over a wide range of topics, their speciality is fly fishing. Almost every week they produce a new fly tying or “how to” video which appears not only on their Vimeo and YouTube channels but on and the Orvis fly tying blog as well. These videos often get picked up by other sites too, including Frankenfly, Chiwulff, The Limp Cobra, Globalflyfisher, Gink and Gasoline and Wideopenspaces, just to name a few. Many of the tying videos take the viewer well beyond just the tying of the fly and show what it looks like underwater, what natural it represents and how it can be fished.


said on Friday, August 12th, 2016

I thread the worm on a bead (red glass or large brass).  Build a layer of red thread on a scud hook, slip the bead onto the hook, build up the thread on both sides of the bead.  Seal with Loon's UV clear finishover the bead to secure to the hook.

said on Sunday, August 14th, 2016

I tied the squirmy wormy today. It is my new favorite fly pattern. Like utahtu, I used a bead to give the worm that stretch and retract look. 

Very happy with the way it turned out. 


said on Thursday, September 7th, 2017

My concern is that the rubbery material (likely a petro product) breaks off or falls off either when biten or casting and it stays in the stream or river poisoning the very fish this site attempts to protect. I suggest we start a TU campaign titled "Responsible Fly Tying" and have both Orvis and Tightline Productions
promote it. A fly is a fly, when biodegradable materials are used. Its not about elitism, its about responsible river, stream and fish conservation.


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