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Bow Juan Worm
By Steve Hocevar, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Photos by James Birkholm

There are almost as many versions of the San Juan Worm as there are fly tiers but I've never seen this before. I developed the Bow Juan Worm because I wanted to accomplish two things. I wanted to get it down and I wanted it as lifelike as possible. A Wireworm gets it down and tied on the right hook, has lifelike undulations as it twists through the current. If you've never tried a Wireworm, I suggest you do. It works from the San Juan to the Bow River (after which this fly is named).

My variant seeks to add just a bit more movement with just a bit more tying effort. As a bonus, it adds color variance, a mottled effect. It's like a chenille worm but with weight. The problem with a chenille worm is the tag ends bend sharply at the tie in points. This fly doesn't do that. The day after I tied my first Bow Juan Worm, I caught a 25 inch Rainbow on it. Others have gone on to catch a lot more. I know it works.

Try mixing the wire and herl colors. Black herl on red wire, red on red and black on copper. They all work great.

Materials: Bow Juan Worm

    Thread: 8/0, color to match Herl.

    Hook: Mustad 37160 size 4 to 8.

    Body: 22 gauge Wormwire palmered with Ostrich Herl.

    Head: Tying thread.

Tying Instructions: Bow Juan Worm

1. Start with a wireworm in the color of your choice. It's simply wire wrapped tightly over the hook.

2. Tie on a strand of Ostrich herl at the "tail" position. Wrap the thread up to about the middle of the fly. This is a size 6 and my herl is long enough to cover the bottom half of the body. If yours isn't, you'll want to use three herls and keep the thread a bit lower on the body.

3. Now you have to work quickly. Ostrich herl is fragile. Bouncing along the bottom will beat it up. Trout teeth don't do it any favours either. To keep this fly fishable for as long as possible, we're going to cover the hook with a generous helping of Dave's Fleximent. Wrap the herl right away. Be very careful. You don't want to paste the filaments to the hook while the Fleximent is still wet. Even if you do, it won't hurt. The ugly flies work great.

4. After tying off the first herl, clip the tag and tie in the second herl. You can get away with minimal wraps of thread because the Fleximent will keep it from unwinding. Advance the thread to the head.

5. Wrap the second herl and tie off. Whip finish and place it somewhere to dry completely.

I often use this fly in place of split shot (only where legal, of course). Tie a nymph dropper off the bend and let the Bow Juan Worm get them both down. After that, its up to the fish. Don't be surprised if you take more on the worm then the nymph. ~ SH

For more great flies, check out: Beginning Fly Tying, Intermediate Fly Tying and Advanced Fly Tying.

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