It started when people realised that the squirmy wormy material was a soft rubber that got ripped to pieces by plants when either casting the fly or when getting stuck on the retrieve. The closest thing to the squirmy on the shelves of tackle stores were soft rubber toys in the mall. These colourful toys are obviously a lot stronger and if one searches long enough, toys with the ideal length and diameter ‘wormy appendages’ can be located.
I was fairly satisfied with the original squirmy wormy material, but got forced to go shopping for an alternative product when it was discontinued. The perfect toys for the job can be purchased from Crazy stores and Toys R Us in South Africa. They come in a range of colours, but I bought those that I personally found most attractive for carp fishing. This included a light lavender, hot orange and chartreuse (unfortunately I could not find a red toy; that would have been included).
Flies were tied (with condom bodies instead of the vinyl rib) and I headed to my favourite section of the Berg, named The Test by Andre van Wyk due to the beautiful green cabomba and crystal clear water with pebble substrate giving it the feel of a UK chalk stream. The fish in that section are also big and ‘testy’ to target on fly, which I believe may have contributed to the name. Anyway, long story short, the lavender squirmy kicked ass and I even caught THAT damn semi-koi that had me tip toeing around the pool like a cat after a pigeon the entire season.
Chuffed with its success, the lavender squirmy became a part of my mudbone fly box and I even had the confidence to hand some of them to Guy Ferguson and Richard Morton that came over to Paarl for a visit and to give the mudbones a try. It was a great privilege to spend the day with a salted guide that’s fished in most seas and a person that’s landed world-record-size fish of nearly every saltwater species. The fish were also shy and the river was flowing hard and I believe Guy realised to his delight just how demanding these carp were on flies.
I’ve had positive reports from Guy and Richard since that day and have also seen many photos of good looking mudbones in Guy’s hands. The man admitted that he was hooked on clear water carp fishing. He still fishes the same hand-full of lavender squirmies after many trips to the Berg, proof that the rubber toys are durable.
More recently, I learned about the Mop Fly…Garth Nieuwenhuis and I were on a small stream mission for trout when he mentioned that Matt Rich had to tie Mop Flies for the upcoming World Angling Championships. Garth mentioned this with a pretty serious tone in his voice while landing a pretty little rainbow, otherwise I would’ve thought that he was bullshitting me. I Googled the Mop Fly and to my surprise found images of quite an interesting looking ‘creation’ that I simply had to tie for myself.
I love it when I come across a pattern that’s new to me and when I see potential in a fly that could be used for multiple fish species. The Mop Fly looked striking and tempting to try for carp, yellowfish, bass, catfish, trout etc. etc. etc., which got me very excited of course. So off I went to the shops again to try and locate these ‘special’ floor mops which could be used to tie flies with. I found lovely orange and chartreuse mops (a product called the Floorwiz) and bought a near-lifetime supply of the stuff for only a couple hundred Rand.
When I first saw mop patterns on the internet, they reminded me of a fat caddis larva, which was also the first thing I tried to imitate – besides the other good looking caddis patterns that popped up on Google Images under the ‘Mop Fly’ search. Green and orange Mop Caddis were tied with CDC and peacock collars; now the weather needs to cooperate so that I can try feed this fly to some fish.