I have the same discussion with a lot of different folks about this time every year. Are flies that imitate worms … ethical?
My take? Absolutely. They mimic a naturally occuring prey base in rivers, lakes and streams all over America, and, with high flows approaching in some of our snow-locked rivers, worm patterns are go-to flies for a lot of anglers who understand that runoff eats away at muddy banks, releasing more worms than usual into the water. Red worms and nightcrawlers are common in American rivers, and spring might be the best time to fish flies that imitate them.
Above, Tim Flagler demonstrates how to tie Ken Walrath’s Crystal Worm—a dreadfully simple pattern that fits the bill for high-water angling. I love the way this pattern looks, and I can imagine it tumbling and drifting in murky spring waters, only to be gobbled up by opportunistic browns on waters like the Henry’s Fork or the Beaverhead. This, of course, is but one of dozens of worm patterns out there, and the angler determined to fish on the shoulders of spring runoff should have a few different patterns in colors ranging from black to red in his or box.
Since this one’s so easy to tie, I think I might have to sit down at the vise and tie few in the weeks ahead.
— Chris Hunt