in one of (if not THE) best-ever tying tutorial i’ve had the pleasure of observing, here’s a brilliant gem on a classic fly from Tightline Productions
as Tim Flagler mentions at the beginning of the video, tying a Muddler Minnow can seem a bit daunting and complex which unfortunately puts off a lot of people from giving them a go. more importantly this is unfortunate (for the fly fisher at least) because tying it correctly means learning some non-negligable skills (that can of course be transferred over to other patterns) and it’s such a great and versatile fly. heck, this fly is so good and well known that it’s even on a stamp !
some interesting stuff from Peter Gathercole‘s book ‘The fly-tying bible: 100 deadly trout and salmon flies in step-by-step photographs’ 2003:
The Muddler Minnow was spawned, so to speak, by Don Gapen of Anoka, Minnesota in 1937, to imitate the slimy sculpin. Gapen developed this fly to catch Nipigon strain brook trout in Ontario, Canada. The Muddler, as it is informally known by anglers, was popularized by Montana, USA fisherman and fly tier Dan Bailey. It is now a popular pattern worldwide and is likely found in nearly every angler’s fly box, in one form or another. Due to its universal appeal to game fish, the muddler minnow will remain as an integral tool in sport fishing.
The versatility of the Muddler Minnow stems from this pattern’s ability to mimic a variety of aquatic and terrestrial forage, ranging from sculpins, to leeches, to grasshoppers, crickets, spent mayflies, emerging green drakes, stonefly nymphs, mice, tadpoles, dace, shiners, chubs, and other “minnows,” along with a host of other creatures.
There are limitless material and colour variations, however the essence of the Muddler Minnow is a spun deer hair head. While each Muddler may differ in colour or profile, all true Muddlers have a fore-end or body of spun deer hair that is clipped close to the shank to provide a buoyant head. Typically there is an underwing of squirrel hair and a wing of mottled secondary turkey feather. Often the fly body is made of gold/silver Mylar or tinsel wrapped around the hook shank. Marabou may be tied in as a substitute wing for colour and lifelike movement through the water. The head may be weighted or unweighted, according to the style of fishing, the target species and the intended imitation. The muddler has served for the basis of several patterns, including the Spuddler, Muddler Hopper, Mizzoulian Spook, Searcy Muddler, Keel Muddler, and so on, but even in its simplest and original form, it remains a very effective fly.
technique-wise, of special interest in the video below are two elements a lot of tiers have difficulties with: paired wings and of course the spinning/stacking/trimming of deer hair but if you’re one them (us… ) rejoice ! because the explanations and demonstrations are as good as it gets, or in other words: it’s feckin’ awesome and well worth viewing over and over. expect a few ‘aha’ moments.
enough said, here’s the making of the beast. enjoy !
ps- now that you’ve seen a really nice one, a little chewed but no worse for wear after maybe a dozen trout here’s my first attempt from years back.
i’ll have to work on this pattern a bit…