How to Use a San Juan Worm

Jackson Hole Fly Company Fly of the Month: How to use a San Juan Worm

Consistently consistent...but great after rain and in high water.

Worm patterns can be used year-round, but are most effective after a big rain or in higher water. The San Juan Worm and Ultra Worm are simple patterns that imitate aquatic worms commonly found in most trout waters, especially in spring when the runoff scours stream banks and loads rivers with real worms. In most cases, you should place your Worm as the top nymph in a tandem nymph rig. Additionally, with the exception of small or shallow streams, you should plan to add weight to your rig when fishing with this fly pattern or use the beaded versions of the Ultra Worm.



Try dead drifting them slow and deep through seams and runs like any other nymph. Look behind larger boulders or structures in the water that slows down the flow downstream. You don’t always have to fish the edges of the bank or boulder to find fish. Since aquatic worms tend to live among the plant-life of rivers, the closer to the bottom of a river you can get, the better. Fish are always willing to eat worms, but be sure that they match the water color and are the proper size. Worms are extremely versatile and fun to use!

To give you additional clarity, a tandem nymph rig should essentially follow this pattern:

  1. Leader With A Strike Indicator
  2. Split-Shot Weights - Place these just above the knot connecting your first section of tippet to your leader in order to keep them from sliding down.
  3. Tippet
  4. San Juan Worm
  5. Tippet - You can connect this section of tippet to the hook shank, or if you want your San Juan Worm to wriggle a little more, you can tie it through the eye of the hook again.
  6. Trailing Nymph - Or an additional San Juan Worm if you feeling really crazy!

Choosing to put worm patterns in your fishing line-up, will almost certainly put more fish in your net. Below are three worm patterns we recommend keeping in your fly box.




San Juan Worm Red: This worm imitation represents an aquatic worm which is a prevalant food source for Trout. More than anything, it is just a good attractor pattern that Trout really seem to like.




San Juan Wire Worm Chartreuse: The living worms tend to be of neutral colours however time and experience have demonstrated that Trout frequently find an added attraction to the extra little colouring. Trout simply cannot resist this tempting imitation when it is put before them.


Double Bead "Ron Burgundy" Ultra Worm
is a pattern that is an offshoot of the popular bead Ultra Worm. The double bead allows this worm to sink faster. The burgundy color is great for muddy water as the fish see purple as a dark object that stands out better.


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