Rag worm streamer tied by Barry Ord Clarke

Ragworm sea trout streamer

Sea trout angler
The rag worm fly is without doubt one of the most difficult patterns to tie, but the rewards can be great!


The ragworms wedding as it is known, is called the springs most exciting adventure for the sea trout fishing. And if you are lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time, there is no danger for you not connecting with fish. Although ragworms are on the sea trouts menu the whole year round, its in the spring under the annual swarming that the sea trout will go on a feeding frenzy and gorge themselves on the worms.

The real deal.

There are many patterns known to sea trout fishing to imitate the worm, some better than others, some simple to tie and some, not so simple to tie. I believe the original pattern from the tying bench of innovative Swedish fly tyer Robert Lai is still for me, without a doubt the best. Robert´s pattern is probably one of the most challenging patterns, many fly tyers will ever learn to tie, but the rewards are great.  No other worm pattern swims and pulsates in the water like his, imitating the natural swimming worm as closely as humanly possible with feather and steel.

Although we are not 100% sure, and thats not for lack of theories! But the spring swarming is due to the worms spawning season and seems to be triggered by two main factors. A rise in water temperature 6-7 degrees, and the arrival of a new lunar phase, (full moon) from anywhere  around mid March and into April.  The female ragworm broods her eggs within her long flattened body and as the eggs develop her body becomes brittle and eventually splits, releasing the eggs. The male ragworms are attracted to the egg laying by following pheromones, that are also released by the females. After spawning, both male and female ragworms die.

Ragworm swarming can be very local in most situations, and it’s not easy to know where. Then you should look to the sky, beacause the greedy and forever hungry sea gulls can show you the way.  If you can see that screaming sea gulls are flocking and circle around a area of coast, this shows you where to fish – just like the pelicans when tarpon fishing. Consider  also when the strong spring sun has been high in the sky all day and warming up the shallow’s, especially with dark muddy bottoms. Most sea trout fishermen, including myself, prefer sight fishing during the day looking for rises as you fish systematically, possible holding spots in small bays and inlets as the tide rises and falls. But if you are, as most sea trout fishermen, hoping to connect with  larger fish that are normally wiser and more sceptical about entering the shallower coastal waters during the hours of daylight. These shallow areas retain the days heat during the first couple of hours of darkness.  It’s during this period that larger sea trout dare to venture into the shallows to feed.  You should fish at least a couple of hours into the night.

The pattern I have tied here started off, 15 years ago, as a direct copy of Robert´s original pattern, but over the years it has changed a little, but this had more to do with receding memory on my part, than anything to do with developing the pattern. But the basic original principal is still there and the pattern still works. There are a few rules one must follow when tying this pattern. The tail hook should be small and light in weight. Because the worm has an extremely flexible body, a larger and heavier tail hook has a tendency to “Hang-up” on the body under casting, which results in you fishing a ball of marabou with the hook out of-line.  A heavier tail hook also reduces the  animation and swimming motion of the worm by restricting the tail from lifting when the bead head sinks.  Another point is the central core of the fly, not the loop that you spun the marabou onto but the Dyneema spine that holds the front hook to the tail hook.  This is Alfa and Omega regarding the success of tying this pattern. If the spine is not securely attached to the front hook, you can risk loosing, not only the business end of your worm but also fish. So make sure that you tie this in as well as you can and don´t be afraid to use super glue.  The Latin name for the common ragworm is Nereis diversicolor, meaning they are quite variable in colour, but typically reddish brown and turning more on the green side during the spawning season.  So the rule for colour is that there is no rule, you can tie the worm in any colour you like! Personally I have found the two most successful colours for me are the one shown here and bright orange. And don´t forget that ragworms are on the sea trout menu the whole year, so don´t restrict your fishing with it just to the spring, it´s also a deadly pattern for regular trout fishing.

Ragworm streamer recipe

Hook Tail: Mustad Shrimp C47SD # 8
Hook Head: Mustad Shrimp C47SD # 6
Tying Thread: Dyneema
Central Core: Dyneema
Tail: Black and Olive brown marabou
Body: Black and Olive brown marabou
Head: Brass or Tungsten bead

How to tie Ragworm streamer

Secure your salt water # 8 tail hook in the vice.


Cover the hook with a foundation of Dyneema tying thread. I use Dyneema because it is salt water resistant and weight for weight stronger than quality steel.


Select some fine tapered olive and black marabou and tie in the tail. Colour your Dyneema with a black waterproof felt pen.


Load two paper clips or a Marc Petitjean magic tool, one with black marabou and one with olive. Make sure that the marabou fibres are not too long.


Once you have loaded your paper clips make a dubbing loop that is 2.5 times the length of your paper clips. Make sure that you dubbing loop begins tight against the tail of the fly. Colour the dubbing loop black with a waterproof felt pen.


Holding the loop open with your left hand place in the black marabou.


Now you have to take care! Once the black marabou is trapped in between the dubbing loop make sure you dont release the tension. Otherwise all the marabou will fall out.


Whilst keeping the tension in the first marabou by holding the dyneema loop with your left forefinger and thumb place in the olive marabou approximately 1 cm further down the loop. Now retain the tension in the loop and let the bottom half hang over your forefinger. Spin the bottom half of the loop tight.


Once you have spun the bottom half, while keeping the tension in the loop, lift and pull your dubbing spinner off your finger and the upper half of the loop will spin automatically, catching the black marabou. You can now spin the whole loop to tighten the marabou securely.


While holding the loop out stretched and tight use an old tooth brush (not a metal dubbing brush! this will fray and weaken your Dyneema) to open out any trapped marabou fibres.


Hang your dubbing loop in a material spring or clip, so that it doesn´t unwind while you are working on the rest of the fly. Using a even stronger Dyneema, cut a 30 cm length and double it. Place the looped end through the tail hook eye as shown.


Now thread the two ends of the core Dyneema through the loop in the hook eye.


And pull tight. You can now place a little drop of super glue on the knot.


Colour the core Dyneema with a black waterproof felt pen and then lie it down on top of the spun dubbing loop.


While holding the Dyneema core and the dubbing loop in your right hand, catch the centre of the dubbing loop with the hook end of a whip finish tool.


Fold the dubbing loop over as shown towards the tail hook.


While holding the dubbing spinner in place with your left hand remove the whip finish tool from the loop. You will now see the loop spin automatically together. Secure the dubbing loop to the tail hook by tying down a small section, and then folding over the dyneema and tying down again (see stage 23). Repeat this until you are sure it is secure. Remove the access dyneema tying thread and carefully apply a drop of super glue to the whippings . Taking care not to get it on the marabou.


Find the core loop again and attach your whip finish tool. Now you should be able to slide the marabou dubbing loop down the core a little. Remove the hook from your vice.


Place a bead onto the # 6 shrimp hook and secure in the vice. Once in the vice place a few wrapping of lead wire behind the bead head. This extra weight gives a much better swimming action.


Using your thumb nail push the lead wire into the bead head.


Attach your tying thread and secure the lead wire and bead head.


Tie in the core of the fly as shown.


Once the first part of the core is attached apply a drop of super glue.


Fold over the core and tie down again. Apply another small drop of super glue.


Once you have secured the core slide the dubbing loop up and tie this down. Once you are happy that everything is in place apply another small drop of super glue.


Move your tying thread to the rear of the hook shaft and make another dubbing loop. Don´t forget to colour the dyneema black. Spin in some olive marabou.


Wind on the last dubbing loop, making sure that you stroke the marabou fibres back with each turn.


Take a few black marabou fibres and tie these in over the olive ones. Whip finish and apply a tiny drop of super glue through the eye of the bead.


Cut off the point of the front hook with a strong pair of pliers. Be careful with your eyes when doing this as the point comes off like a bullet.


Proof of the pudding!

Ragworm streamer video

Essential sea trout patterns for the autumn

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