There are multiple ways to tie this fly and everyone has their personal variation that they believe will work for them. We will go over the basic pattern and then get into some of the more complex variations. Overall this fly may be the easiest fly to tie in the world, unless you are fishing the Juan and using size 24 bare red hooks....yes, it works, trust me. Anyways, as I was saying, this fly is easy to tie, can be used in multiple applications and is a good all-purpose fly to have in the box. So without further adieu, fly-tying victim #5 the San Juan Worm.
Hook : Daichi 1120 #6-20
Thread: 6/0 Uni, Color should match Vernille
Body: Vernille, Any Color or Pearl Core, Any color
Rib: Flashabou or crystal flash
Bead: Optional, but any Cyclops bead will work.
Hackle: Optional, Partridge, Pheasant Rump, Guinea
There are multiple variations of this fly. I will do the simple version first. Then walk you through some of the variations, which aren't too difficult but can be confusing.
Step 1: Tie down thread to hook. Cut a piece of vernille, you usually want it long enough that it is twice as long as the hook shank. Wrap thread back along the hook shank to the bend. Tie in the vernille so that about half of the vernille is hanging off the back of the hook shank. Tie over the vernille to attach it to the hook then make a couple of wraps behind the vernille so that the tail sticks up.
Step 1a: Slide a bead on the hook and place it near the eye. Slide the vernille through the bead. Make a wrap behind the bead and in front.
Step 1b: If you are using pearlcore instead of vernille. Slide through the bead or just tie it down in front of the bead and another section behind. Near the bend, tie in a piece of flashabou/crystal flash and wrap over the pearlcore all the way to the bead.
Step 2: Wrap the thread forward along the hook, making a few wraps up over the vernille to attach it to the shank. When you get to the eye. Wrap over the vernille and make a few wraps in front to make the vernille stand up.
Step 2a: You can tie in the hackle at this point if you choose to do so. Tie it in tip first behind where the vernille/pearlcore goes up, make a couple wraps and tie off. If using a bead and you wish to add some hackle, tie it in front of the bead tip first and make a couple wraps, tie off.
Step 3: Whip finish in front of the vernille. Cut thread, and then take a lighter and burn the ends of the vernille slightly. If you are using pearlcore you will have to superglue the ends instead of burning them.
Colors: Red, pink, green, olive, blue, purple, blue, burgundy, black, root beer, and chartreuse. the most effective colors are pink and red, especially on the Yakima in early spring. Purple can be effective as well. Blue and chartreuse seem to work better in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah. You can mix and match colors as well, making the tail a different color then the front. Those versions generally work better when tied in with a bead to cover the transition.
Where it Fishes: Pretty much everywhere. They work better in cloudy/murky water, but I have caught fish on this fly all over the west. Alaska, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Montana, Utah and New Mexico. Such infamous rivers as the Yakima, Rocky Ford, Rock Creek, Flat Creek, South Fork of the Snake, San Juan, Green River (in Utah), Klickitat, etc. The bigger versions can work for steelhead as well as trout and you can tie them down to a size 20.
If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask. All tying lessons are located on our Tying Page.
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