How to Tie Ken Walrath’s Crystal Worm

Producer: Tim Flagler

This is Ken Walrath’s Crystal Worm. It’s an easy-to-tie, extremely versatile pattern. Ken is a fixture at many fly fishing shows and he’s well known for his innovative fly patterns, including the very popular “Ken’s Crazy Ant.”

For the Crystal Worm, a Daiichi 1770 hook in size 12 or 14 is a good choice. After getting the hook firmly secured in the jaws of your tying vise, load a bobbin with a spool of black 70 Denier thread, here, Danville Fly Master.

Start your thread on the hook shank leaving a little space behind the eye and take thread wraps rearward before snipping or breaking off the tag.

For the body of the fly, cut an 8-10” length of small Stretch Round Rib, or similar material, free from the coil. Here the color is amber.This should be enough to make multiple flies. Secure one end at the tie-in point and begin making open spiral thread wraps rearward to bind it to the hook shank. While doing this, pull on the material to stretch it taught. Once you’re a little ways down into the hook bend, take a few nice tight thread wraps to anchor the material there then continue with open spiral wraps up the hook shank to the initial tie-in point. It’s very important to keep the Stretch Round Rib taught throughout the process or it’s likely to collapse the open spiral thread wraps and creep up the hook shank.

While keeping significant pressure on the rib, start taking touching wraps with it up the shank to create a shiny segmented body. You should notice that the open spiral thread wraps underneath give the body a unique very natural looking mottled appearance. When you reach your tying thread, use it to secure the Stretch Round Rib to the top of the hook shank before snipping the excess off close.

Take wraps of tying thread to build up a small head on the fly and then do a 5 or 6 turn whip finish to anchor the thread. Once you have the knot seated really well, snip or cut your tying thread free.

An ample drop of head cement, or in this case Hard as Nails, applied to the thread wraps, helps to keep them from unraveling and creates a nice shiny head on the fly.

I think it’s the little bit of mottling and shimmer that together make this pattern look so lifelike. By combining different colored ribs and thread underbodies, you can create a multitude of looks. Whether you keep them fairly plain or go off the reservation a bit, a good selection of Ken’s Crystal Worms is sure to produce.