The San Juan Worm
The San Juan Worm is probably one of those flies that you will find in most fly boxes. It originated, of all places, on the San Juan River in New Mexico. The San Juan River is a tailwater river famous for its large trout. At the time of its creation guides were just tying on a piece of red yarn on a hook to imitate a blood worm. Today they are tied in all the colors of the rainbow, with or with beads and in every size imaginable. Fly fishing folks from all over the world are using this pattern to catch trout while nymphing. There was a time when the use of the San Juan Worm was somewhat controversial as is much of anything new in fly fishing. Today the San Juan worm is well accepted by most fly anglers as a go-to nymph. I know some fly anglers who swear it’s their favorite fly.
From a strategic standpoint, the San Juan Worm can be a game changer. Trout or fish in general can be attracted to or affected by color. There is something to be said about a fishing department is large sporting good store because they have a lot of colored lures, colored plastics and other colored gear used to catch fish. Lures come in all colors of the rainbow from bright colors to florescent colors. The point is a trout’s feeding behavior or lack of feeding behavior can be changed by introducing a color such as a bright red San Juan Worm. There have been many times while nymphing a river when the fishing has just not been very good. After an hour or so nymphing a variety of successful nymphs I have not been very successful. Rather than change flies again with another version of a mayfly, caddis or stonefly, instead I’ll switch instead to color. This is where the San Juan Worm comes in. It has color to attract a trout, it’s worm like or buggy and it will move and sway in the current. Lo and behold I’ll start catching trout. The San Juan Worm is a strategy changer and can make the difference sometimes between having a slow day nymphing or having a great day nymphing.