Muddler Minnow
Illustrated Recipe by Moose Peterson

Previous Flies
Fly Tying Terms

The Muddler Minnow is a highly variable pattern I've found in looking in other fisherman's fly boxes. The first big variance is weighted or not weighted. Next is the darkness or lightness of the turkey that's used for both tail and wings. Lastly is the length of the deer hair collar that simulates pectoral fins. What you see here is what I've found works best for the Eastern Sierras where I fish. Before tying this pattern, you might want to find out what combo works best for the waters you fish. This fly was tied on a size 8.

Materials for the Muddler Minnow

    Hook: 2-12 TMC 5263.

    Weight: Optional (this version is non-weighted).

    Thread: Black 3/0.

    Tail/Hackle: Mottled Turkey wing.

    Body: Flat gold tinsel (oval tinsel is weighted).

    Underwing: Red Squirrel.

    Wing: Mottled Turkey, matched.

    Head: Deer Hair.

Method for the Muddler Minnow

    If tying your Muddler weighted, wrap on weight then proceed.

    1. Flatten barb if tying barbless, place hook in vice and start thread ¼ shank length behind the eye.

    2. Attach the tail with a couple of wraps. Select the turkey segment with care, looking for a great "curve" to the section. The length of the tail is really to personal taste, taking into account regional preferences.

    3. Tie in your tinsel with a couple of wraps and then wrap thread forward (I used size 10 Mylar). Next wrap your tinsel forward, overwrapping the previous wrap by ½ the width of the tinsel. Tie off.

    4. At the tie off point, I personally like to make a few extra wraps of thread to create a hump to push up the squirrel tail underwing. This is similar to what you do when tying with turkey biot on Prince Nymphs.

    5. Select a section of squirrel tail approximately twice the thickness of the hook shank. Cut fur off the tail, comb out and attach to shank. I tie the tail in between the hump I create and the eye of the hook to make sure the underwing has a rise to it. Make sure your wraps are tight! Trim off as cleanly as you can. I then add a drop of head cement to the underwing wraps.

    6. Take care in selecting two matching turkey segments from two opposite wing quills. The width of the segment can vary from ¼ to three eights inch, depending on fly size. Align the two turkey wing segments so their tips match. I like to dry fit my wings prior to attaching them. I like to have my wings length to reach approximately ½ the length of the tail. Once the length is determined, make sure you tie the wings so the wings are attached to the top of the hook shank and not the side. Tie down with a couple of wraps, trim and finish with a couple of wraps. A drop of head cement doesn't hurt.

    7. Wrap in your first deer hair bundle. Be sure to set the length that you want the deer hair collar before wrapping in the hair. There are many methods for making hair heads, so use the one you're most comfortable with. I learned by spinning, which is the method I've always used. Make three or four wraps, pull thread tight and spin hair around the shank. I use a pair of tweezers and push the hair bundle back on the hook shank against the wing as tight as I can in preparation for the next hair bundle.

    8. Following the step above, I tie in two more hair bundles. The number of hair bundles you can tie in is determined by the size of the hook. This is a size 8 hook in this illustration so I could attach 3 bundles. Once you have your hair attached, bring the thread forward, create your head and tie off.

    9. Now's when the really hard work starts as far as I'm concerned. Trimming the deer hair head takes time if you want "the" shape to be aesthetically perfect. I personally take time to trim it down since each fly and hair head is slightly different. I spin the fly in the vise and slowly trim off the hair, taking a little off at a time, shortening the hair with each rotation.

    10. When I get down to the nearly finished head, I take a look at the shape and make my final cuts. Then it's ready to tie on the end of the line and go after some fish!

Photographic note:

Photos captured by Nikon D1H, 60f2.8AF Micro with SB-29s flash on Lexar digital film. ~ Moose

About Moose:

Moose is a professional wildlife photographer, and obviously a fine fly tyer, who lives in Mammoth Lakes, CA. He has an extensive website to furnish wildlife photographers with information to make the most of their photographic pursuits. You will find it at:
~ dlb

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

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