The Worm Bugger

Alright, all you purists out there had better stop reading right now. This is a fly that will make you cringe. The body of this fly is formed from one of those plastic worms that you buy by the dozen down at Hawg Heaven and are beloved of the 150 horsepower, glitter painted, flippin stick crowd. Yeeeehaw! For those of you with less delicate sensibilities, however, or those just interested in a great version of the Wooly Bugger that has a very lifelike feel to it and catches both trout and Hawgs this is a great pattern.

Developed by Gerald Wilt down at Auburn, it can be fished just like a regular Wooly Bugger either weighted or unweighted. There is part of the technique of tying this fly that can be a little tricky the first time, but it does really not take too long to catch onto.


Hook: Mustad 79580 or other 4X (or longer) streamer hook #6-8
Body: Piece of transparent soft plastic worm in color desired
Thread: Color of worm body
Ribbing: Copper wire
Tail: Marabou in desired color
Palmered Rib: Saddle hackle in desired color
Weight (optional): A pair of "lead" dumb bell eyes


1. Select a non-flavored, non-salted, transparent, soft, plastic worm about 6" in length in the color desired. The developer of the fly prefers "motor oil" (yup, that really is a color in these worms). From the tail section of the worm cut a piece that is about 3/4 hook shank length. Carefully work this piece of worm onto the shank of the hook centering it.
2. Place the hook in your vise. Start your thread behind the worm body and tie in one end of the copper wire for the ribbing. Whip finish the thread behind the worm body.
3. Carefully spiral the wire forward around the plastic worm body. You want it to be tight enough to slightly compress the plastic, but not cut into it. Wrap the end of the wire around the hook just in front of the worm body a couple of times to hold it in place.
4. Now comes the tricky part. You are going to soften the plastic so that it surrounds the wire. This is easiest if you use a rotary vise so that you can turn the body constantly while you are applying heat. If you don't have a rotary vise then take the hook out of your vise and hold it in a pair of hemostats so you can turn it easily. The best way to soften the plastic is to use a heat gun. This will let you control the temperature better and lessen the chances of catching the plastic on fire. If you don't have a heat gun then a cigarette lighter will do the job, but you will have to be more careful. When the plastic softens it will flow around the wire and form a round body. Let it cool completely and it will firm up again.
5. After the body has completely cooled restart your thread behind the worm body. Attach a clump of marabou as a tail. Black or brown works well with the "motor oil" body. Then tie in the tip of the saddle hackle. Whip finish behind the body and trim off the thread. A dab of head cement or super glue is a good idea at this whip finish.
6. Restart the thread in front of the body. Spiral the saddle hackle forward around the plastic body between the spirals of the wire. If you used a transparent worm you will be able to see the wire inside the body. Take a couple of wraps of thread to secure the saddle hackle in place in front of the body. Trim off the excess saddle hackle. Attach a pair of dumb bell eyes if desired. Whip finish. A drop of head cement or super glue on this whip finish is also a good idea.

Voila! You have a transparent soft bodied wooly bugger that is great for trout and bass.