Tie the Flexi-Worm

Peter Gather­cole ties a sim­ple but deadly earl­y­sea­son stillwater pat­tern

Trout Fisherman (UK) - - Contents -

AFLY’S ac­tion is of­ten a ma­jor fac­tor in its suc­cess, a fact well il­lus­trated by pat­terns that in­cor­po­rate flex­i­ble legs. Prob­a­bly the most widely-used pat­tern of this type on UK still­wa­ters is Peter Ap­pleby’s Apps’ Worm. It can be tied in a va­ri­ety of colours from red and am­ber to pink and orange. It also works well in som­bre hues, es­pe­cially when the wa­ter is very clear. Olive can be deadly in these con­di­tions though black and brown both make good change colours if the fish are prov­ing finicky. As far as I re­call the orig­i­nal Apps’ Worm has four legs – two at each end of the hook; but the num­ber of legs used can be var­ied. I’ve seen a num­ber of ver­sions with six or even eight legs – the lat­ter of­fer­ing the fish a real mouth­ful. Con­versely, the ef­fect may be toned down to two strands – one at ei­ther end. The lat­ter version is ef­fec­tive when fish have been re­peat­edly tar­geted with bulky ver­sions or in­deed other large flies.

It’s all in the kick!

The great thing about rubber legs is that they im­part an in­cred­i­ble ac­tion into al­most any fly, even when the re­trieve is neg­li­gi­ble. Flex­i­ble strands come in a va­ri­ety of forms. The orig­i­nal type is nat­u­ral rubber legs, which are still avail­able in black and white and also in orange and yel­low. Though they work well enough, when it comes to catch­ing fish, nat­u­ral rubber sim­ply doesn’t last as long as other ma­te­ri­als and will per­ish over time. More than once when find­ing an old rub­ber­legged pat­tern in the cor­ner of a box and think­ing of giv­ing it a try, I’ve been dis­ap­pointed to have the rubber legs dis­in­te­grate. To­day though, flex­i­ble legs are avail­able in a wide range of colours, di­am­e­ters and fin­ishes, most of which are man­u­fac­tured from man­made prod­ucts and are there­fore much longer last­ing than the orig­i­nal type. When it comes to ty­ing the Apps’ Worm or the Flexi-Worm, the most pop­u­lar ma­te­rial is strands of Ly­cra, or Span­dex if you are Amer­i­can, mar­keted un­der names such as Su­per Stretch Floss, Flexi-Floss and Span­flex. While they’re all the same ma­te­rial they do vary in tex­ture and pro­file, some be­ing smooth and square, oth­ers more round and crinkly. When us­ing flex­i­ble strands as legs, tie them so they stick out in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions. In this con­fig­u­ra­tion, they im­part move­ment which­ever direc­tion the fly is mov­ing. With most re­trieves the fly tends to rise on the pull then sink on the next pull. Even a steady fig­ure-of-eight re­trieve pro­duces a small upand-down move­ment so on the lift the front legs will be pushed back by wa­ter pres­sure – the re­verse hap­pen­ing as the fly sinks. Also keep the legs nice and long. Even very soft ma­te­ri­als such as Su­per Stretch Floss will be­come less flex­i­ble the shorter they are. Of­ten the legs on this style of fly can be 1.5 inches long which does look a lot but the trout seem at­tracted to this great puls­ing con­coc­tion.

Flexi Worm

Pat­terns such as the Apps’ Worm or the Flexi-Worm can be tied ei­ther un-weighted or with a lit­tle lead wire or metal bead added to the hook shank. The hook it­self is nor­mally a heavy wire model, ei­ther a long shank or a stan­dard wet fly hook. The body can be formed from var­ied ma­te­ri­als. Small plas­tic beads are pop­u­lar as they add translu­cency – the down­side is that they can be tricky to ap­ply and also re­quire a bar­b­less hook

“When us­ing flex­i­ble strands, tie them so they stick out in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions.”

– a barb pre­vents small beads pass­ing over the hook point. While the Flexi-Worm can be fished slowly or with short strips to make those legs re­ally pulse, it also works well as a stalk­ing bug. All but the most lethar­gic of trout find it hard to refuse a Flexi-Worm when placed on their nose, though whether it takes out of ag­gres­sion or hunger only the fish knows. As a stalk­ing bug, it needs to be weighted to reach the fish’s level quickly and even if a fish is sit­ting still, the weight pre­vents the fly from be­ing lifted too high when twitched with the rod tip. Here a brass or even a tung­sten bead comes in handy. This bead may be ei­ther one of the stan­dard metal­lic colours – that’s gold, sil­ver or cop­per. Al­ter­na­tively, there are now plenty of coloured beads of­fered in­clud­ing flu­o­res­cent colours. These can be used ei­ther to con­trast with the fly’s colour or to com­ple­ment it, which is the op­tion I’ve cho­sen here with a 3.2mm pink metal­lic bead and pink Flexi-Floss. When us­ing a bead, the first step is to thread two strands of Flexi-Floss through its cen­tre. First pass a loop of ny­lon or thick thread through the bead. Next, pass the end of the floss through the loop un­til it reaches its mid-point then draw them both back through the bead. If they do stick as they’re be­ing drawn through, don’t keep pulling as this may dam­age the soft Ly­cra strands. In­stead, stretch them a lit­tle to make them thin­ner and they’ll pass through with no prob­lem. Thread the bead over the hook point and re­mem­ber the bead’s small hole goes on first. The larger hole – which forms a re­cess in the back of the bead – will be to the rear. The bead may be pushed up to the eye or fixed to­ward the mid­dle of the shank so that the fly sinks on an even keel, rather than head first. Here the bead is go­ing to be po­si­tioned half­way along the shank. So, draw the floss strands back clear of the eye and run on the ty­ing thread. Apart from the bead, the fly’s body is formed from flu­o­res­cent pink ty­ing thread or al­ter­na­tively GloBrite floss of the same colour. Un­less you’re us­ing a stout, 140 de­nier thread, floss is the bet­ter op­tion as fewer turns are re­quired to build up the body. Whether you’re us­ing thread or floss, it’s es­sen­tial to use a bob­bin holder and – in the case of the floss – it should be one with a wide bore. Ei­ther way, the bob­bin holder is vi­tal as it pre­vents fin­gers from dam­ag­ing the light-coloured thread. Po­si­tion the bead at the hook’s mid­point then run the thread back from the eye to the bead’s front. Check the lengths of the Flexi-Floss strands, if nec­es­sary ad­just­ing them so that all four are the same. Ap­ply a cou­ple of thread turns over the Flex­iFloss at the front then stretch the strands over the eye and fix them in place with close thread turns. Add fur­ther smooth thread lay­ers to build the front half of the body fin­ish­ing at the eye. Make two turns un­der the two for­ward point­ing floss strands, cast off with a whip fin­ish then reat­tach the thread at the rear of the bead. As this type of fly can have more than four legs, now is the time to add any ad­di­tional ones. To do so, take an­other strand of pink Flexi-Floss or a con­trast­ing colour and make a sin­gle, open over­hand knot at its mid­point. Pass the knot over the bead, draw tight at its rear be­fore form­ing the rest of the fly. Stretch the rear point­ing strands a lit­tle then fix them to the shank with close thread turns. Then, us­ing the thread, or the Glo-Brite floss, ap­ply smooth lay­ers to build the rear half of the body. That done, cast off the thread with a whip fin­ish. Check the leg lengths so they’re of even length and not too long. If they are, they can be trimmed with scis­sors, al­ways re­mem­ber­ing not to stretch the strands as they’re cut. Then coat both body sec­tions with clear var­nish or a UV cure resin.


3.2mm metal­lic red beads.

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