If you’re not afraid to tie and fish worm patterns, then you most likely have a relationship with the squirmy wormy. And, if you’re like me, the relationship you have with this worm and it’s squishy, wobbly material has been a roller coaster ride.
The San Juan worm dominated the worm scene for many years – so much that many people still refer to any worm pattern as a San Juan worm! I have been tying and fishing San Juan worms ever since I started fly fishing in the early 90’s. They are easy to tie, durable, and catch fish wherever you find worms – so pretty much everywhere! Just tie some ultra chenille on the hook, wrap it up the shank, tie it off, then use a lighter to taper the ends, and you have the perfect worm pattern!
Then, about 10 years ago, someone showed me a potentially more perfect worm fly – the squirmy wormy. But, I was happy and confident with my ultra chenille San Juan worms, so I didn’t really catch the squirmy wormy fever like so many other worm guys. As a fly tier, however, the demand for squirmies was, and still is, pretty intense, so I couldn’t help myself from tying and even using this new wiggly miracle worm. Soon enough, the San Juan worms in my fly box were replaced with squirmy wormies.
Also soon enough, I became frustrated with their lack of durability. It’s just a shame to spend time tying a fly that fish love so much only to have it bust apart. Sometimes fish rip off the squirmy material from the hook, but more often than not my squirmy wormies fall apart where the material is wrapped on the hook shank. The squirmy material does not hold up well to teeth or forceps, and sometimes the material wrapped around the hook shank will just unravel and explode on its own. I tied a batch of nice squirmy wormies a while back, put them in the fly box for an upcoming trip, and when I opened the fly box a few days later, I was dismayed to see that the worms had all exploded around their shanks. I was ready to give up on the squirmy wormy: The material is a pain in the butt to tie on a hook; they’re not durable; and any drop of any adhesive will melt and destroy the material. They might catch fish, but they’re not worth the hassles. Or, so I thought!
It turns out that there is an adhesive that won’t melt the squirmy- Loon Soft Head! Loon’s natural, water-based products are indeed squirmy friendly, and both the Soft Head & Hard Head products will work well. Preference is for the Soft Head since it is flexible, which means it is more durable and is a better match for the supper flexible squirmy material. I don’t know who originally made the discovery, but I first saw it done by the good people at Fly Fish Food on their YouTube channel. After watching the video and seeing the proof, I was so excited to see if I could use Loon products to repair some busted wormies and to tie some new, super-durable squirmy wormies. I didn’t have the preferred Soft Head, but I found a bottle of Loon Hard Head and immediately got to work on my busted wormies.
Squirmy Wormies repaired with Loon Hard Head
In the picture above, you can see how some of the wormies have been repaired and protected with Loon Hard Head. Once the adhesive is fully dry, it creates a shiny, durable coating, which protects the squirmy material from sharp teeth, damaging forceps, and from breaking apart all on it’s own. That mangled repair job on the far left of the bottom row has seen more than a few fish jaws this year, and it’s still going strong! These were all coated with Hard Head, which seems to be easier to find than Soft Head, so go with hard if that’s all you can find.
As stated, the flexibility of Loon Soft Head makes it better suited for the squishy squirmy stuff, and once I found a bottle of the soft, I went straight to the vise and tied up some squirmy wormies that look great and will hold up to many fish and much abuse.
There are a variety of ways to tie the squirmy wormy. But, whichever method you use to attach this unruly material to your hook, include one more step to the process and coat the wraps of squirmy material with Loon Soft Head. You might need to bust out the old rotary drier wheel, but it’s worth it!