Fly of the Month: Cannon's Wormly Worm

by Jim Cannon, co-owner Blue Quill Angler

I like flies that are fish catchers, easy to tie and durable.

Of all the flies that we have sold at the Blue Quill over the past 20 plus years, the brown, red, pink or tan San Juan worm is one of the best sellers and most productive nymphs that anglers use for trout. Every serious nymph fisherman has numerous worm patterns in his nymph box.

I have caught many trout and when taking out the fly have seen a mouth stuffed with worms. Although most worm patterns are very simple, they are just too productive not to use.

Worms are especially good in higher water that we’re about to face during runoff. During this time, lots of natural worms are being washed into the current.

The problem with the traditional Ultra Chenille worm has been that after it has been fished a while, the chenille often begins to shred off the hook, exposing the white thread core. Other plastic worm patterns, though realistic to the angler, are very hard and unrealistic to the fish.

Several years ago I began experimenting with chamois as a material to tie the worm. For years we have sold a fly called a Chamois Leach, which is just a strip of chamois tied on a hook. It is very productive in high water, even in Cheesman Canyon.

I started dying the chamois strips red, worm brown, hot pink, purple, and tan. I found out that if in the dying process you got the dye mixture hot enough, the strips would curl up and look just like little worms.

Then I added a sex ring made out of orange scud back to the dyed chamois strip. Using thin but durable UTC Gel Spun thread was the clincher that held the worm indefinitely on the hook.

I feel this is one of the best trout patterns ever created. It is realistic, durable, easy to tie, and feels just like a worm to the fish. I have total confidence in this pattern when trout are eating worms, especially in high water.


Two sizes: #12 and #16, or whatever you want
Hook: 2499 spbl
Thread: UTC G.S.P 100 in red
Sex Ring: 1/8 inch Orange Scud Back
Body: dyed chamois strip
Colors: All red; all brown; All tan; a combination of two colors is very effective. I like worm brown with tan, or red and tan

Tying Instructions:

  1. Tie gel spun thread onto the hook center and tie in the dyed chamois strip. I like more chamois coming out the back than on the front of the hook. Using the gel spun thread, tie the strip on as tightly as possible so it does not slip.
  2. Tie on the orange scud back right at the bend of the hook and wrap it forward around the middle of the hook and up to behind the eye, making the sex ring.
  3. Whip finish and tie off behind the eye and cement the head. Once the fly gets wet, it will darken and begin to move in the water similar to a real worm.

Now get Wormly. Go fishing!

Editor’s note: All materials can be found at the Blue Quill Angler.

Cannon's Wormly Worm Cannon's Worm

By Jim Cannon. Photos by Tim Stechert.