Wednesday, February 02, 2000

Cabali Worm

Originator:  Ted Cabali

Species:  Bass

Remarks: by Catch Cormier

Previously known as the Sqwirm Worm - until that name became associated with a trout fly tied from Squirmy toy material - the Cabali Worm is one of several innovative creations from fly tying genius Ted Cabali of River Ridge, LA.  

According to Cabali, the basis of this fly was "renewed interest in fly patterns that imitate spinning or casting rod lures rather than specific aquatic organisms".  The Cabali Worm isn't a specific set pattern, but a group of patterns that closely imitate the conventional angler's plastic lures, and which use silicon strip material (trade name: Sili-Legs).  For example, the original variation of this fly was a saltwater attractor that imitated soft plastic baits used for speckled trout and redfish.

The Cabali Worm was born of the same principle, except with bass the intended target. The instructions I list are for creating the worm body. What you do with it is up to your creativity. The original Cabali Worms (flies on the left) imitate more of a lizard or crawfish, and are deadly on spawning bass. The variation on the right resembles more the straight-tail plastic worm. Swim this fly by stripping it in small but steady pulls. It's light enough to cast with a 5 weight, and float thru grass mats like those found on many lakes, but still sinks without weight.



Sillilegs, aka Silli Legs, come in many colors, patterns, and sizes. For an idea of what colors and patterns are available, check out the Barlow website. You can also find these same type skirts at most fly shops.

This fly calls for using the regular-size cut silicone skirt layers that are slit to the last 1/4" on each end. The layers are very easy to use because the ends are not slit. Other materials will include the hook of your choice, flat waxed thread, and possibly chenille and beads (a beadhead version of this fly, with a short, small hook, is a killer).


Each layer of sillilegs contains 20-22 strands. Depending on hook thick a worm you wish to make, 10 to 16 strands are needed. The thinner worms are more limp, have more action in the water, and are easier to cast with a light rod. This needs to be balanced by the fact that thicker worms can catch the bigger bass.

Let's make a 12 strand worm. Seperate each layer into two sets of strands, 6 each. Cut one end of the layer, but leave the other end intact. Grab the cut ends, seperate them, and begin twisting. After enough twists, poke a finger in the middle (where the layer end is), bring one end back to the other, and let the two ends slowly "bimini twist" on each other. If the worm comes up a bit crooked, pull and stretch the worm out a few times, and this will straighten it up. Use small paper clips to hold the worms in place until the tying process is ready.

I'll give two tying options here. The first calls for using a Mustad 37187 bass hook. Bend the top 1/4" in a bendback-style. Then tie the clipped end of your sqwirm body onto this bent section. The worm will fall right alongside the point. In fact, pass the hook between Sqwirm strands. Attaching a mono weedguard at this point also acts to keep the sqwirm from sliding off the hook point and doing crazy things. This pattern best represents the typical bass worm.

The second option - my favorite - is the beadhead worm. I've found that 4" plastic worms on a jighead can be as deadly on bigger bass as large worms with large hooks. Just not as snagproof. I use a 4mm beadhead, vernille, and size 4 or 6 jig style hook, 60 degree flat eye, usually black nickel.  Tie the worm body to the hook shaft, then tie in a matching vernille body and wrap up to the beadhead. Finish off on the beadhead. This fly has incredible motion when retrieved in small strips.

TYING TIP UPDATE 1 When twisting the split layer, the middle is where the layer remains joined. If this "joined end" breaks, take the two sections and merge them similar to a loop-to-loop connection. Then restart the twisting.

TYING TIP UPDATE 2 The "joined end" is unstable as is. It won't last but a few strikes from a fish, then the worm unravels. To prevent this, make a Duncan Loop with mono, and slip it over the worm above the joined end. Tighten the mono loop down firm around the tail, then trim. You can even apply a tiny amount of super glue or UV epoxy around the mono for durability.