Fly Of The Week
Mickey Finn
Mickey Finn
By John van Vliet

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Fly Tying Terms

Mickey Finn

"One classic, but still popular and effective, bucktail pattern is the Mickey Finn. Designed by John Alden Knight in the 1930s, it was named for the infamous drugged drink.

A streamer is designed to imitate a baitfish rather than an insect. Traditional streamers have hackle-feather wings that extend back, or "stream," over the body of the fly.

The Mickey Finn is an excellent baitfish imitation. The red stripe of bucktail resembles the lateral line of a small minnow or trout. This fly can be extremely productive for salmon, trout, steelhead, bass and even pike.


Hook:  Mustad 9672; 2-12.

Thread:  Black 3/0.

Weight:  (optional) Fine lead wire.

Ribbing:  Oval silver tinsel.

Body:  Flat silver tinsel.

Hackle:  Yellow and red bucktail, or calf tail.

Tying Steps:

1. Tie in a four-inch length of oval silver tinsel ribbing on top of hook shank, starting thread just behind hook eye and wrapping back to bend to secure tinsel.

2. Wind thread forward again to tie-in point behind hook eye. Tie in a 6-inch length of flat silver tinsel body material.

3. Wrap flat tinsel back to bend of hook. Each wrap should touch prevous wrap so there are no gaps.

4. Reverse direction and wrap tinsel forward to tie-in point, overlapping first layer. Secure with several turns of thread.

5. Wrap ribbing on hook, starting near bend, and wrap forward.

6. Cut a small bundle of yellow bucktail, and another of red. Comb out underfur with dubbing needle.

7. Stack bucktail fibers to align tips. Divide yellow bucktail into two equal bundles.

8. Measure first bundle to approximately 1 1/2 times hook-shank length.

9. Tie in first bundle of yellow bucktail with several soft loops. Apply moderate thread tension for first few warps, then increase tension for several more wraps. If you are having problems getting bucktail to stay on top of hook, reduce amount of bucktail

10. Trim butt ends of bucktail at an upward angle, as shown; then wrap thread forward to cover tapered ends.

11. Measure bundle of red bucktail to same length as first yellow bundle and place it directly on top of yellow bundle. Tie in as in steps 9 and 10.

12. Measure second bundle of yellow to same length as first and tie in as in steps 9 and 10. Whip finish and apply head cement.

13. Eyes are not traditional of this fly, but painted eyes can be added for an extra touch.

How to fish the Mickey Finn:

This streamer can be retrieved upstream or down, or across the current with a jerky, twitching retrieve to simulate a baitfish. ~ John van Vliet

Credits: From the Art of Fly Tying by John van Vliet, published by Cowles Creative Publishing. We greatly appreciate use permission.

For more great flies, check out: Beginning Fly Tying, Intermediate Fly Tying and Advanced Fly Tying.

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