July 5, 2008

San Juan Worms - Reprise

Frankly, more discussion regarding roughfish fly patterns and fly tying techniques is obligatory, especially in light of the recent interest in creating a more durable San Juan Worm pattern. John Montana sparked the conversation by creating a SJW worm thread on the Carp Anglers Group fly fishing forum. He and I must be on the same wavelength right now, because earlier this afternoon I sat down at the vise, a rarity at this time of year, and whipped up a few new variations on the SJW pattern.

I started with the basic SJW pattern. I opted for the microchenille and threaded a piece through a bead and onto a size 8 Tiemco 2457 scud hook. Here's where it gets interesting. I tied on a red wire body, the length of the hook shank. I tied in the chenille at the rear of the hook, whip finished, and tied off. I put head cement on the thread wraps and coated the entire wire body. This fly should now be as tough as an armored car.

I realize it might not matter to the fish, but I still burnt the tips of the chenille. Fly tying can be a selfish hobby, as sometimes the tyer ties flies for his or her own sense of satisfaction, and not necessarily to increase its effectiveness. Besides it only takes me a few seconds.

I adapted adding the wire body to the lethal San Juan Carp Killer pattern. I think it turned out fabulous. I now dub thee the San Juan Carp Assassin.

I'm going to play with more pattern variations this evening. I'll try tying the patterns with the wire body wrapped over the chenille. Hopefully a few more folks will call in to John Montana's challenge and provide us all with some good ideas. The roughest part will be having to field test these patterns.

Roughfishing. It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it.


  1. Those look great JP. We should do a mini swap...get you, me, wendy and maybe on other guy. Each of us could tie 3 patterns, 6 flies per pattern. We'd be tying 18 flies, but would all get back 9 different patterns (two each for quantity). I suck at math, but that makes sense to me. I'd be in, i'm sure wendy would too.

    we did something similar last summer with Zonker (CAG guy) and it turned out great. wendy swears by some of zonkers stuff.

  2. John Paul,

    I'm going to tie some of these up to try - are the bright colors to compensate for the brackish water (makes the fly more visible) - or do you figure the Carp respond to the brighter colors better than muted color?

    I'm still unable to get them to touch any fly consistently - and that may be because they're always facing the opposite bank nibbling on foliage, rather than free swimming searching for chow.

    You can see from the picture on my blog how they're stacked up, it's difficult to get a fly into their visual range when they're facing dirt - not water...

  3. Keith, the red and pink colors are likely the result of two things: the aquatic worm the pattern originally represented, and the resemblance to mussel and clam necks. The waters I fish have decent clam and mussel populations, so that could be why the carp like to take those colors. I prefer to fish the brighter colors, so that it is easier for me to see when the fish takes my fly in the turbid water. I have the same pattern tied in all sorts of earthy colors like tans, light and dark browns, reds, pinks, hot pink, etc. I've never really tied on a lighter colored SJW to see if it was equally effective or not. I'd suggest tying up a couple in each color and finding out which ones fish the best.

    If the carp are feeding on vegetation, it may be worthwhile to tie up a few vegetation flies. Something as simple as olive marabou tied on a hook would work. I saw a nice grass carp fly tied by Sister Carol Anne Corley. Google it.

    As far as finding a consistent pattern, I'm not sure if there is one. You'll have to ask the grandmaster of carp on the fly, Mr. John Montana for the answer to that question.

  4. Great tip, I found the Grass Carp fly you mentioned - reminds me of the Hydrilla these fish are usually munching on - I'll bang some of these out and see what trouble I can get into.

  5. I was wondering what other colors you've had success with, for this fly?

  6. I've caught fish on tan and pink. I have variations in green, purple, dark brown. I'm sure they'd all catch fish,l but to be honest, I haven't fished all the different colors. The red pattern catches fish, so I've stuck with it. The only reason I tried the other colors, was because I ran out of the red ones on the water.

  7. One last question..
    Are those bead chain eyes then?

  8. no, just a traditional bead. the reflection of the camera and photographer in the bead gives a false impression that it is bead chain.

    check the improved versions:



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