Library Step by Step Woolly Worm

Woolly Worm

The original Woolly Worm pattern is said to have originated in the Ozarks as a bass fly. Its real popularity, however, came when Don Martinez, a West Yellowstone, Montana fly tier, commercialized the pattern in the 1950s. It is usually the first pattern taught to fly-tying beginners because it takes only three steps to tie and is really simple. But we must not forget it is also a really effective fly in the water, both in lakes and rivers. I could go as far as saying one could take this one pattern in different sizes, weights and colors and have good fishing days. I strongly recommend beginners to use this fly, although maybe someday you will get tired of catching fish with the same pattern.

A friend of mine quit using the Woolly Worm because he said it was cheating, because it fished well anywhere he tried it. This is a great fly for beginners to experience for the first time what it feels like to catch fish with a self-tied fly. Experienced tiers may recreate it to develop new variations.

Classic Woolly Worms are colored in olive, black, yellow and brown; mostly tied with chenille on hook sizes ranging from #4 to #8. But there are many variations, it can be tied with bead heads, metal eyes, rubber legs, antennae and tail, with peacock body, modern chenille or combed dubbing bodies. Variations are endless.

I can think of one that could be a bit more complicated, it could be named “Woolly Worm - Bicolor Flash Thorax”. You surely will not get bored of it if you keep experimenting with variations on the classic Woolly Worm.
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Woolly Worm
List of materials

Hook: Mustad 9671, sizes #6 to #16.

Thread: black.

Weighing (optional): lead wire.

Tail: red floss strap.

Body: black and red chenille.

Sides: pearled flashabou strips.

Hackle: black rooster saddle feather.
Fly tying - Woolly Worm - Step 1

Step 1

Wrap the lead wire along the hook shank leaving some space at the back and next to the hook eye.

Fly tying - Woolly Worm - Step 2

Step 2

Tie the red floss strap from where the lead wire ends and up to the hook barb.

Fly tying - Woolly Worm - Step 3

Step 3

Tie a black rooster feather. Its length should be 1 ½ of the hook gape.

Fly tying - Woolly Worm - Step 4

Step 4

Tie the black chenille right where the feather was tied.

Fly tying - Woolly Worm - Step 5

Step 5

Wrap the black chenille along the hook shank to cover 2/3 of its length.

Fly tying - Woolly Worm - Step 6

Step 6

Tie some pearl flashabou strips on each side and at the back.

Fly tying - Woolly Worm - Step 7

Step 7

Tie the red chenille right where the flashabou was tied.

Fly tying - Woolly Worm - Step 8

Step 8

Wrap the red chenille almost up to the hook eye.

Fly tying - Woolly Worm - Step 9

Step 9

Take the side flashabou strips to the front and tie these next to the hook eye.

Fly tying - Woolly Worm - Step 10

Step 10

Wrap the rooster feather in a Palmer style along the body of the fly and tie next to the hook eye. Whip finish and cemment.