Sometimes you gotta get down.
And though that proclamation might be salient to a spectrum of occasions, it is certainly applicable to fly presentation, in a pragmatic, utilitarian sense. And often.
There are several ways to get down while using a floating line: sink compound applied to the leader; mini-jigs; heavy beadheads; splitshot; & also heavy wire wrapped under the fly body, my own preference.
The wormlike flies in the photo are actually sinkers, meant to be rigged as the front fly on a tandem fly setup (what I call a ‘depthcharge rig’). They contain about a splitshot’s worth of lead & sink like ‘right now’. As there is no hackle or fuzzy material to buoy or sail them, they sink & drift with very little resistance. They are made of rubber bands recycled from the daily newspaper. Being rubber & thin they aren’t as grabby & hitch-y as beads or jigs or shot, probing the bottom & lower water column with a nice, smooth ‘feel’ & seldom snagging. These are the easiest handling & smoothest casting of any type of sinker I’ve tried.
The depthcharge rig with sinking worm is my favorite way to deliver small soft-hackle flies deep. It is the non-weighted trailing fly that I’m trying to catch a fish on, though the sinker catches pretty good too. Generally, about 1 in 3 or 4 gets fooled by the sinker, but there are times the sinker is all they want. And I’ve had it happen more than once, the sinker taking the best fish of the day.
The rubber ‘worm’ simulates a lot of things commonly found in & around trout streams, particularly aquatic worms & beetle larvae & also land-born caterpillars. Trout eat a lot of these (pin a real one on & see what happens) & their obvious bait value to fly fishers is often overlooked for no good reason – & considering the worm shape low in the hierarchy of acceptable baits serves no purpose but a hindrance to fun.
A simple worm made from a green rubber band works well on streams shaded by a deciduous canopy, where a lot of green caterpillars accumulate & fall into the water through the warm months.
These might be tied smaller or larger but I’ve found a #10 to be handiest for most trouting. I tie worm sinkers on TMC 200R hooks, which serve to give a nice shape, & keel to ride hook-up when weighted. Barbless versions (TMC 200RB) of this hook are available, though in my own experience the design’s shallow bend configuration does not hold fish well in barbless mode. However, the 200R possesses a tiny barb & backs out without doing serious damage – & if one needs to go barbless the barb can be pinched down leaving a nub which helps to keep the hook from falling out of the fish’s mouth or, more important, the trailer tippet slipping off in a fight.
Used tandem with a trailer fly on 12 to 20 inches of tippet tied to the hook bend, depthcharges can be fished dead-drift on an upstream cast, or quartered & swung, & are good for plunking pocket water on swift freestone streams. The Depthcharge Worm is a zen-clean way to present & fish a wee soft-hackle fly in the lower water column where it is likely to serve best most of the time.
Hook: #10 TMC 200R
Thread: yellow or choice
Body: rubber band – tied in well down the hook bend & wound to the hook eye – these can be painted with colored markers, the mottled effect is achieved by marking the rubber strip before stretching – cut the strip end at a steep angle & tie in by the tip for a neat rear taper – prior to winding the body, apply two layers of .015 lead wire, the top layer slightly shorter & centered over the base layer (specimen in the photo shows extent of leading), then shape with thread or floss until the lead is covered & an elongated cigar shape is achieved – apply cement to the thread body, then wind the rubber when the cement is tacky ~ & finish.