Glassy Palolo Worm: Using Silver Lined Japanese Seed Beads
Recreate this fly at home! Materials used in making this fly have been included below. Always keep in mind your local fly-fishing store will most likely have the materials referenced, and typically for less. Materials can also be found at Amazon or any other major on-line resource.
- Owner Hook 5377-111, Black Chrome (#1/0)
- UTC Thread 210, Tan
- Rabbit Strips, Cross-Cut, Red
- Japanese Glass Seed Beads, Silver Lined, 4 mm, Light Green
- Japanese Glass Seed Beads, Silver Lined, 4 mm, Olive Green
- Japanese Glass Seed Beads, Silver Lined, 4 mm, Light Pink
- Sally Hansen Hard As Nails, Hardener, Clear (#2103)
Design Inspiration & Detail
Each year at the end of MAY and beginning of JUN, the Palolo worm hatch takes place in the Florida Keys. Palolo worms emerge from the coral/ rock formations when conditions are just right (i.e. full or new moon, low tide, calm water, etc.). These 2.5″ to 3″ worms find their way out to the ocean side of the Keys to meet the annual Tarpon migration from the North. Tarpon always seem to know exactly when this hatch takes place. Typically just outside of the Bahia Honda Bridge is a popular place to meet the migration. In some form or another you will find Tarpon feeding on worms in the greater middle Keys and occasionally in the Back Country.
Palolo worms don’t wiggle really, they jet forward quickly and remain fairly straight when under way. The trick is to fish with longer leaders (11′ to 13′) and strip with super-fast 3″ ticks. Use a two-handed strip if it’s difficult with one.
For anyone who seeks Tarpon with a fly-rod, a handful of Palolo worm flies is a MUST for the fly-box. The Palolo worm pictured above includes Japanese seed beads for added brilliance and texture. This version also rides lower in the water column when compared to yarn/ feather versions. Some cut off the hair on the rabbit-strip to create a slender look to the worm. I leave the hair to add a tiny bit more bulk – the bulk seems to get the attention I want. Worms will typically have a red or pink half and a portion which is tan, taupe, beige, or olive green.
The version tied above is a small Tarpon fly. Tarpon flies are tied using hook sizes up to #3/0. If you wish to use a larger hooks, make sure you find the right size seed bead – beads will need to fit over the barb.
Notes On the Seed Beads
I’ve been experimenting with these glass seed beads since MAY 2014. Stumbled upon these glass beads in an art store (Michael’s) some time ago. Beautiful part about them is the fact they are lined with silver – this really adds some longevity to their brilliance under water. Another great attribute is the fact they barley slide over the barb on hooks and big as #1/0 – this means they ride relatively tight to the hook shank. The beads also give some audible clicking if choosing to tie loosely – the beads slide back and forth into one another.
Make sure to wrap the shank of the hook with thread at least one time – this will make it so the silver lining inside each bead will remain intact. The reflection does wonders for attracting fish.
For those interested in the relative weight of the fly: The five (5) seed beads used on the hook weigh one-quarter of a gram – this is equal to one set of Bead Chain Eyes.
This particular fly was designed to attract Tarpon – many other species will also take the fly.