A bloodworm larva is an important food source for trout. Learning to tie an effective imitation is a must for any serious trout fisherman. There are many variations, such as the San Juan Worm, Atomic Worm, and one of my personal favorites. the Bloodworm Larva fly.

The Bloodworm Larva fly, in one form or another, has been one of my go-to nymph patterns for some time. It’s caught me very spooky trout in the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho, fat pre-spawning trout in still waters, and even massive Yellowfish in the Kalahari.

This guide will take you through one of my favorite Bloodworm Larva recipes.

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Quick Look

  • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Tying Time: 3 – 5 Minutes
  • Materials: Scud hook, Bead (optional), red thread, red marabou, red flash (optional), ribbing wire, peacock herl, and head cement
  • Hook Size: 8 – 16

What Is A Bloodworm Larva fly?

The bloodworm is part of the greater Chironomid family. These specific sub-species have a high hemoglobin count causing a bright red coloration. The higher levels of hemoglobin aids in increasing oxygen intake.

How To Die a Bloodworm Larva

I hope this clears the common misconception that bloodworm larva lives off sucking blood.

How To Fish A Bloodworm Larva

Knowing that the bloodworm larva is part of the Chironomid family gives us some clue of how we need to fish it. In lakes and still waters, normal Chironomid techniques work well.

Fly Fishing for trout in Argentina on a river

By making use of multiple flies on a long leader, the flies are cast out. Remove any slack line as the flies are very often picked up by fish during the drop.

Allow the flies to sink to the desired depth. Retrieve with long slow strips or by making use of a figure-of-eight retrieve.

Bloodworm flies also work well when used in rivers. They are very successful when used in dry and dropper rigs. They’re also a very good choice when used in conjunction with other flies in nymphing rigs.

Materials You’ll Need To Tie A Bloodworm Larva

The following materials will be needed to tie the Bloodworm Larva

Hook

When it comes to tying a bloodworm larva, you can make use of many different hook shapes. I like tying them on curved shank hooks. These include scud, terrestrial, and shrimp styles hooks.

fly tying hooks

Once again, you’re trying to imitate a real bloodworm. Depending on the river system or stretch of water you’re fishing, I recommend tying them on hooks ranging from 8 – 16.

Recommended Fly Tying Hooks:
XFISHMAN Assorted Fly Tying Hooks

Bead (optional)

The bead’s main purpose is to assist the fly to sink quickly. Depending on the sink rates you want to achieve, the size and material of the bead can be varied. For the hook sizes recommended above, you can make use of tungsten beads ranging from 1/16 to 3/16 inches.

fly tying Beads and eyes

The color of the bead can also be played around with. To simulate an air bubble, make use of glass or even silver beads. A very popular color choice used on the Bloodworm Larva is gold. I like using a metallic black bead because it looks like part of the thorax.

Recommended Fly Tying Beads:
Tigofly 24 Colors Fly Tying Beads

Thread

Any flat-lying red thread can be used. Click the link below, or check out our post that lists all of the best fly tying threads.

Recommended Fly Tying Thread:
Danville’s Flymaster Plus Thread

Marabou

A couple of fibers from a good quality marabou feather will be used to create the tail. Marabou, once wet, gives this fly its lifelike movement.

Recommended Marabou Feathers:
Creative Angler Marabou Assorted Colors

Flash (optional)

I like adding a strand of red flash on either side of the marabou tail. When the flash reflects light it gives the tail an even more lifelike appeal.

fly tying flash

Recommended Flash Material:
Phecda Sport 10 Pack Colorful Fly Tying Flash

Ribbing wire

Make use of a fine metal wire in any of the following colors:

  • Red
  • Black
  • Silver
  • Gold

Recommended Ribbing Wire:
Phecda 10pcs Assorted Colors 0.3MM Copper Wire

Peacock herl

A classic thorax material, the natural iridescence from peacock herl is a trout’s Achilles heel (if they had one). You’re more than welcome to experiment with other materials, such as dubbing, chenille, and flash.

Recommended Peacock Herl:
Hareline Strung Peacock Herl

Head cement

Any head cement to secure the whip finish will suffice. I am making use of Loon Outdoors’s Water Based Head Cement.

fly tying resin and glue

Recommended Head Cement:
Loon Outdoors Water Based Head Cement System

Tools Needed to Tie A Bloodworm Larva

You’ll need the following fly tying tools to tie a Bloodworm Larva:

How To Tie a Bloodworm Larva Video Thumbnail
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Let's Get Started!

How To Tie a Bloodworm Larva

Below, we’ll go through the step-by-step guide to show you how to tie a Bloodworm Larva fly. This is a relatively simple fly to tie and by watching the video and, or following along with the steps below, you should have no problem tying this fly as long as you have the items listed below:

Bloodworm Larvae Fly Recipe

  • Hook: Scud hook in size 10
  • Bead (optional): Black 3mm countersunk tungsten bead
  • Thread: UTC 70 Denier red
  • Tail: Red marabou
  • Flash (optional): Red flashabou
  • Body: Red thread
  • Ribbing: Black UTC Ultra Wire
  • Thorax: Peacock herl
  • Head cement: Loon Outdoors Water Based Head Cement

Step 1: Place a Bead On The Hook (Optional)

If you choose to use a bead on the fly, it has to go onto the hook before securing the hook in the vise.

Countersunk beads have one small hole on the one side and a large hole on the other side. Slide the small hole on the hook first, otherwise, the large hole will move over the hook’s eye.

How To Tie a Bloodworm Larva Step 1 add bead

Step 2: Secure The Fly in The Vise

Whether the hook has a bead on or not, this step remains the same. Hold the hook between your thumb and forefinger and place it between the jaws of the vise. 

When you’re happy with the placement, clamp the hook firmly with the vise’s jaws. If you give the hook a firm wiggle, it should remain securely in the jaws of the vise. 

scud fly tying hook

Step 3: Lock The Thread in Place

Lock the thread in place by holding onto the tag end with one hand and making a couple of wraps around the shank. Then move the thread over itself to lock it in place. 

This is common in starting most fly ties and is very simple to do once you get the hang of it. Once the thread is locked in place, cut off the excess tag end.

How To Tie a Bloodworm Larva Step 3 lock thread

Step 4: Lock The Bead in Place

Move the thread to just behind the bead. Build up a ramp to prevent the bead from running back down the shank.

Again, this step is only necessary if you are using a bead as weight for this fly. If you are not using the bead, you can skip this step.

How To Tie a Bloodworm Larva Step 4 lock bead

Step 5: Lay a Thread Foundation

With touching turns, run the thread back down the hook. Stop at the point where, if you left the bobbin hanging freely, the thread would hang just inside the hook’s bend.

This is a good reference point to ensure that you’re tying the body of the fly far enough back on the hook shank.

How To Tie a Bloodworm Larva Step 5 lay a thread foundation

Step 6: Tie in The Marabou Tail

Cut a small amount of red marabou from the feather and measure it against the length of the fly. You want the tail length to equal that of the entire body. 

Now transfer the imaginary tying in point to where you left your thread and tie in using a couple of pinch wraps.

How To Tie a Bloodworm Larva Step 6 tie in marabou tail

Step 7: Begin Creating The Thread Body

Now you can take your thread and wrap the body of the fly by doing many turns around the shank of the hook. You should be able to mostly cover all of the fibers from the Marabou Tail by taking many wraps around the body of the fly.

If you see some extra fibers sticking out, you can simply cut them off with your fly tying scissors to clean up the fly.

How To Tie a Bloodworm Larva Step 7 part 2 tear off tail

Step 8: Tear Off The Marabou Tail

Once the body of the fly is wrapped generously in the thread and there aren’t too many fibers sticking out, it’s time to tear off the tail to length.

The tail should be shorter than the abdomen and the thorax of the fly. With that in mind, pinch the Marabou to that length and tear off the excess. Tearing works better than cutting in this case because it creates a more natural profile.

How To Tie a Bloodworm Larva Step 7 part 2 tear off tail

Step 9: Add Flash To The Tail (Optional)

Run the thread forward halfway up the hook shank. Select a long red flash fiber and fold it in half. Place the loop over the hook while pulling the flash tight in an upward direction and secure the flash in place.

Now, splay them on either side of the hook and while pulling the flash material back, secure it while moving the thread backward to the base of the tail. Finally, lock the thread in place.

How To Tie a Bloodworm Larva Step 8 add flash

Step 10: Tie in The Ribbing Material

Run the thread forward to just behind the bead. If you didn’t tie in a bead, move your thread forward to about 1/8th inch behind the eye of the hook.

Tie in the ribbing material and cut off the excess. While keeping the material on the side of the hook shank closest to you, run the thread backward to secure the ribbing in place. Stop when you reach the base of the tail. Lock the ribbing in place.

How To Tie a Bloodworm Larva Step 8 tie in ribbing

Step 11: Create a Thread Abdomen

The abdomen on the fly is going to be made from tying thread. With touching turns, neatly wrap the thread forward. Depending on the size of the hook used, flatten the thread every 7-10 turns. This can be done by spinning the bobbin in an anti-clockwise direction until you see it’s flat.

Stop the thread about 1/3 of the total body length behind the hook eye. If you’re using a bead, this will still leave a small space for the thorax.

How To Tie a Bloodworm Larva Step 9 create thread abdomen

Step 12: Rib The Abdomen

Turn the ribbing in the opposite direction than the thread body and begin wrapping the ribbing material forward, along the abdomen of the fly (the hook shank). 

Pay special attention to create evenly spaced segmentation on the abdomen. Once you reach the point where your thread abdomen stops, tie off the ribbing and cut off the excess.

How To Tie a Bloodworm Larva rib the abdomen

Step 13: Create The Peacock Herl Thorax

Select two or three peacock herl fibers. Align them by cutting their tips. Tie the fibers in and advance the thread forward to just behind the bead.

With touching turns, wrap the peacock herl forward making sure that no thread is exposed. Tie off when you reach the back of the bead and cut off the excess material.

How To Tie a Bloodworm Larva create peacock herl thorax

Step 14: Whip Finish The Fly

To finish the fly off, make on or two whip finishes and pull the knot tight. A whip finish ultimately creates a secure knot that will ensure that your fly will not come apart after normal use. When you’re done the whip finish, cut off the thread.

If you’d like to learn how to do a whip finish, check out our guide. It also has a video and easy step-by-step instructions.

How To Tie a Bloodworm Larva finish the fly

Step 10: Apply Head Cement

Place one or two drops of head cement over the whip finish and allow to dry. You can use any head cement for this, but I tend to go for Loons Water Based Head Cement.

While the whip finish knot does help to ensure that the fly will not fall apart, by adding the cement you will be able to seal the head and further ensure that your fly will be durable and longlasting.

How To Tie a Bloodworm Larva apply head cement

The Bloodworm Larva

How To Die a Bloodworm Larva

Now You Know

How To Tie a Bloodworm Larva

I hope that you enjoyed learning to tie this variation of a bloodworm larva. Please note that this is not the only way to tie an imitation of the bloodworm larva. Having said that, this pattern is one that I can recommend and know that it’s very effective.

Please share this post with your fly tying friends or anybody new to fly tying.

Also, please leave any comments or questions at the bottom of the page. I would love to hear from you guys.

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How To Tie A Bloodworm Larva A Step-By-Step GuideHow To Tie A Bloodworm Larva Fly