How to tie the Apps' Bloodworm Stillwater Fly



THE ORIGIN of this pattern is hard to pin down exactly, as many northern flyfishers were experimenting with Flexi-Floss on similar flies well before this version rose to fame.

But it was Peter Appleby and the Maran Kingfishers that gave the fly prominence with a string of spectacular results on small waters. So, the result is a variety of versions all of which suit different waters, conditions and type of fish.

But why is it so productive? Peter has experimented with the fly and is constantly developing it to stay one step ahead of the fish. “It’s very important on small stillwaters to continually tweak patterns, otherwise the fish can get wise,” says Peter.

“After extensive research, I reckon the trout are attracted to the body of the fly more so than the pulsating legs.”

In coloured water Peter thinks the fish are more likely to spot a bigger red Glo-Brite body than those long, thin legs.

“The fly’s body seems to be the main attractor, so I’ve beefed that area up by using a size 12 longshank hook. The original was tied on a normal size 10 or 12, so now the fly’s much bigger. Once the fish closes in on the pattern, the legs play an important role in encouraging the trout to take. Their vibrating action proves irresistible.”

Peter’s latest tweak has actually reduced the number of legs to just one at the front and one at the back. This has improved his catch rate even more. In fact, it was responsible for a 21lb rainbow from Sharpley Springs as part of a 20 fish haul.


NO matter what version of the Apps’ Bloodworm you choose, here’s fellow Maran Kingfisher Fred Bainbridge’s approach.

Says Fred: “It’s easily one of the best small water patterns around at present. Fished properly, virtually guarantee success. The fly is basically Peter’s creation but we work as a team and the team has helped develop the pattern from time to time.

“For example, when the eight-bead body was introduced, I found more success by reducing the number to six on a shorter shanked hook – the pattern was then also quicker and easier to tie. Also, I found pink more productive for freshlystocked rainbows. But if I was approaching a water for the first time, here’s what I’d do: 1. First, select an intermediate line sinking about 2 to 2.5 in per second. My favourite came from the Fishtec catalogue somewhat surprisingly under “Fast Sink”. It cost just £4.95 from the budget fly line section. It’s great for coldwater fishing. Another good choice is the Greys Depth Finder line, especially if the fish have moved deeper and you need to reach them faster. 2. Fish two Bloodworms of different colours – pink and yellow, green and yellow etc - about 10ft apart. If you can’t cast a long leader, space them a comfortable distance apart, one that you can cope with. Simply alter the distance and colours until you find success. 3. Start fishing the upper layers first and move your way down through the depths. 4. What about retrieves? This is vital. Use quick pulls first. Mix the retrieves up changing every 10 to 15 casts. My favourite is the long draw… pause…long draw…pause etc. This raises the fly up and down and also pulsates the legs. 5. NEVER strike! Keep retrieving and the fish should hook themselves. 6. Don’t worry about which breaking strain fluorocarbon to use as leader. When pulling the fly, you can go up to 10lb. If fishing buzzer-style (left static in the breeze) you will probably have to go down to 4lb because you’re fishing much slower. 7. Best results are achieved with a longer cast – 30 yards if possible. The longer your flies are in the water, the more chance of success. 8. But even more important on small waters is to achieve decent turnover, helping to present the flies better. Try to achieve full leader turnover by feathering the line on the forward cast, or by actually pulling the fly line back just before the line hits the water. 9. Fan cast left, right and centre trying to cover as much water as possible. Don’t get into the habit of trying the same thing over and over again. 10. Don’t be lazy. Remember that the keys to success are common sense and work rate.


● Nylon monofilament

● Debarbing pliers

● Superglue gel

● Cocktail stick

● Scissors


1. Take a length of Flexi-Floss twice that needed to form the two sets of legs. Fold in half. Loop a short length of mono through floss and use ends to feed on beads.

2. Continue adding the beads until six are in place on the doubled length of Flexi-Floss.


3. De-barb the hook then slide the beads over the point and around the shank. Feed them on one at a time. Stretching the floss will help the beads to slide on more easily.

4. Continue feeding the beads up the shank until they are sitting close together with the front one close up against the eye.


5. Pull the rear three beads back to leave a small gap. Next, take a length of Flexi-Floss and form an overhand knot in the gap that has been formed.

6. Gently draw the knot tight to form two legs of equal length. Make sure the knot is as small as possible but don’t pull too hard as the floss will snap.


7. Now push the fourth bead up against the knot and apply a small drop of Superglue gel. Don’t use ordinary Superglue as this will wick up the legs and make them rigid.

8. To prevent getting your fingers stuck use the tip of a cocktail stick to force the bead into position until the glue has set firm.


9. Push last two beads up close against the fourth and apply a spot of glue to secure. Add a second length of Flexi-Floss in the middle of the body using an overhand knot.

10. With the legs and beads in place finish off by trimming the strands to the required length. Keep them long though to provide plenty of action.