"Jungle cock cheeks are not called for on the official version,
although they frequently are used. In Canada, the fly is dressed
with feathered wings, by adding to the tinseled body a long but
narrow tail of a section of a red goose feather, a yellow hackle
throat and a wing, extending to the end of the tail, of married
sections of yellow, red and yellow goose wings. The wing is
a double wing and is long but narrow. The Mickey Finn also can
be dressed as a marabou streamer by substituting for the wing,
two yellow marabou tips and by adding shoulders of red saddle
hackles, as long as the marabou. Jungle cock cheeks also are
added in this dressing.
This fly was an unnamed and relatively unknown pattern until Mr.
John Alden Knight, angler and author of Williamsport, Pennsylvania,
popularized it in his writings. The story of its introduction is
quoted from letters to the author from the principals, Mr.
"In the spring of 1932, when I was living in Rye, New York, I was
invited to fish the waters of a trout club a short distance out of
Greenwish. My host, Junior Vanderhoff, gave me a small bucktail
which he had found most effective for catching stocked squaretail
trout from this little stream (the Mianus River). It delivered
the goods that day; in fact, it was the only fly that did so.
In his travels, John Alden Knight had several occasions when this
fly, now called the Assassin caught more fish than any
others used. In the fall of 1937 Mr. Knight wrote a story for
Hunting and Fishing, about the Mickey Finn, (now re-named from
Assassin) and the producers, (The Weber Company) took for an ad
in the same issue featuring the fly. John Alden Knight is also the
person who developed the Solunar Tables in 1930.
I learned from Mr. Vanderhoff that this fly was one of a series
of six small ducktails in various color combinations which were
at one time put out by William Mills and Son. Then, the fly was
know only as the Red and Yellow bucktail. I used the
fly for a couple of year quite successfully."
According to Dick Surette's Trout and Salmon Fly Index,
The Mickey Finn is "A very durable fly that will take trout, salmon,
bass and just about anything that swims."
"The magazine appeared on the news stands when the Sportsmen's Show
was on in New York. In the space of two days not a single copy
of Hunting and Fishing Magazine could be found on
the New York news stands. I suppose that the name and the flashy
colors struck the public fancy. In any event the fly tiers at
the show were busy for the entire week tying Mickey Finns. Each
night bushel baskets of red and yellow bucktail clippings and silver
tinsel were swept up by the cleaning crew at Grand Central Palace, and
by Friday of that week not a single bit of red or yellow bucktail
could be purchsed from any of the New York supply houses. It was
estimated that between a quarter and a half million of these flies
were dressed and distributed during the course of that show.
How accurate that estimate is I have no way of knowing but I do
know that almost everybody encounter in the aisles had a Mickey
Finn stuck in his hatband . . .
Mr. Gregory Clark . . . adds this: "A day to two after I named
the fly the Assassin I recollected a story that recently had
been published in Esquire Magagine about how
Rudolph Vanentino had been killed by Mickey
Finns adminstered to him by the resentful waiters of New York and
Hollywood and I rechristened the fly the Mickey Finn. All we did
up here was to make it respectable and legitimate and to give the
nameless waif an honest name."
Mickey Finn as dressed by John Alden Knight
Body: Medium flat silver tinsel.
Ribbing: Narrow oval silver tinsel.
Wing: A very small bunch of yellow bucktail, over which is
a very small bunch of red bucktail, which a bunch of yellow bucktail
equal in size to the first two bunches over this. (In dressing this
fly correctly, it is important to note that the lower yellow band
and the red band are of the same size, but that the upper
yellow band is about twice the size of the lower.)
Credits: Text and dressing from
Streamer Fly Tying & Fishing,by Joseph D. Bates, Jr.
Published by Stackpole Books. Second photo Marcelo Morales dressing from Forgotten Flies,
published by Complete Sportsman.