Worms have a funny reputation in the fly fishing world. I am not talking about live worms hung below a bobber but even worm flies get looked down upon. The San Juan worm was probably the first fly you learned to tie if you are a trout fisherman and it has maybe even accounted for a large percentage of your landed fish (if you are brave enough to admit that). Aquatic worms are a major food source for fish, and not just the freshwater inhabitants.
Tarpon fisherman in the Florida Keys enjoy the famous palolo worm hatch which leads to some of the best fishing of the year. Worms are also a regular food source for bonefish. Currently the majority of bonefish flies are tied to imitate shrimp and crabs, which represent their most notable food sources. Recently we have seen more and more anglers catch bonefish on a variety of worm imitations. Flats throughout the Caribbean have polychaetes, which are basically saltwater worms that inhabit mud or sandy bottoms. We have learned how much bonefish enjoy eating these invertebrates through the success we have seen in various worm flies. You can either tie a worm specific imitation or you can tie in a piece of Chenille off the back of a bonefish fly to make it into a hybrid shrimp/worm pattern. Regardless of your approach, give it a try on your next bonefishing trip and you won’t be disappointed! We can also just start calling it a polychaetes fly as opposed to a worm fly to avoid any trouble with the purists 😉
More on Bonefish Flies: