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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Gut-bomb Bloodworm

This fly has guts --

In my way of thinking, the chironomid larva is the hotdog of the stillwater trout world. Plump, juicy, full of tasty goodness and they're all over the place.

If you stillwater fish at all, you're no doubt familiar with Phil Rowley. He has done an excellent job on his website documenting many stillwater bugs, but of particular interest is his page on chironomids. As he points out and shows, via some excellent photos (credit to him as the image below is snagged from his site), there are several aspects of the bloodworm that are noteworthy.

Photo from Phil Rowley - Flycraft Angling

Beyond the color, slender profile and overall size/shape, the biggest thing that jumps out is the translucency. You can literally see the innards of these critters. So with that banging around in my half-empty skull for a few days last year, I started to mess around at the vise. Many iterations later and some well placed field experiments, I'm pretty happy with this pattern as it has evolved.

While I went from a variety of colors of materials, ribbing, threads and hooks, I settled on what gave the best translucent effect. Plain ol' clear scud back, midge flash, Thread and the key ingredient: Loon UV Fly Finish

As you'll see in the video that follows, the UV Resin allows you to keep a slender profile, but still build up a translucent "shell" around the guts while still holding the color of the Sharpies. You can mix and match colors from all red, to red/tan or red/green or anywhere in between. Just use different Sharpies.

Material List

Hook: Partridge Czech Nymph #10 (+)
Thread: Uni 8/0 - Black (+)  & Fluorescent Orange (+)
Body: Scud Back, 1/8", Clear (+)
Ribbing: Midge Flash, Cream (+)
Body Coat: Loon UV Clear Fly Finish, Flow (+)

EDIT/UPDATE: This pattern has been seriously putting the hurt on trout this spring. Here is an updated post on what we've been doing with it...

(**Update: You can now buy these from our online shop**)


  1. that is a great pattern, i used to tie those quite a bit for the san juan.

  2. Curtis--amazing fly and blog. I've been trying to get some to come out in a tan color like the larvae in the picture in the blog post. I can't get the nice dark gut line and still have the translucent part come out looking tan--it's always too dark. Olive thread with a copper flash rib looks good, but still pretty dark. Any secret to a tan pattern?

    1. Check out the new version:

  3. Used this pattern on the Davidson a few days ago. Absolutely crushed those "impossible" trout!

  4. I tried tying this pattern with 1/3" thin skin and permanent marker and it turned out really dark and not that transparent. How important is it to use the 1/3" thin skin?

    1. Scud back in 1/8" is the best material, hands down. Thin skin would be way too thick and opaque.

  5. Awesome tie! I tie a bunch of variations for Pyramid but this is really a great looking pattern!!
    Thanks, brother! Will tie a few up tonite in anticipation of March in Nevada!! Very cool.

    1. Might sound silly but I have never fished a chironomid pattern that wasn't a bead this under an indicator just as you would any other bead head chironomid pattern?