My Favorite San Juan Worm Pattern

This may not look like much, but, it really works.

Many anglers rave about San Juan Worms. Unfortunately, I’ve not had much luck with any store-bought ones nor when I tie them in a “regular” size. I’ve tried all sorts of materials, colors and sizes. I’ve tried all sorts of patterns.

Finally, I think I’ve found a go-to pattern for me. It has done well recently, including at a local freestone.

Personally, I like SJWs that sink easily; I find that too much chenille slows down the descent into the strike zone, even with a Tuck Cast. I’m partial to the life-like movement of Squirmy material, but too much of it also delays the fly’s drop.

So, I recently tied some Squirmies with the following goals:

  • On the smaller side
  • With rubber material
  • Will sink quickly

I tied the rubber material at the base, leaving it free to dangle and wiggle; I think it’s a strike trigger and a reason why the Mop Fly can be effective. I excluded the “front part” of the worm to cut down on the material amount. And, I paired it with a tungsten bead and added fluorescent pink thread for a hot spot.

It is a very simple tie. Here is the materials list, with links:

Last, but, not least, thank you to all the veterans out there. Have a great Veterans’ Day, everyone.


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9 thoughts on “My Favorite San Juan Worm Pattern

    1. Could be good luck but the pattern has been a fish magnet of late. I try to tie them small, FWIW. Are you hitting the Farmy these days?

  1. Gotta give this one a try. Just started using squirmies this year and they have pulled in more (and bigger) fish than any of my other flies. One observation though is that the effectiveness of the patterns tends to drop off two or three weeks after a stocking, still trying to figure out why, and haven’t had much chance to test it out with wild or holdover fish.

    1. Evan, I’m sure you’re right. The fish become conditioned. I have found, though, that smaller flies do better usually with such fish. Hence, my desire to make a smaller SJW. The flies have their place, but my go-to nymphs continue to be:

      • Walt’s/Sexy Walt’s
      • Frenchies
      • Stoneflies
      • Midge pupae and larvae
      1. You’re absolutely right. The wormie fishing tapers off once the fish have wisened up a bit! I’ve been using a tightline rig with a walts as the weight and trailing off a small wd-40 or zebra midge pattern in different colors to some success lately. Hooked into a very large brown just below the dam release at the swift about two weeks ago, it took an olive wd40 and flipped off after a little aerial show.

  2. I’ve also had sparing luck on an SJW. I think you’re right about how the chenille keeps it out of the strike zone. That pattern could be deadly with tungsten beads or even light wire

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