The Brown Muddler Minnow is a quite a bit different than the original, traditional Muddler Minnow pattern. There is no turkey feather fiber tail or wing and no gold tinsel abdomen. I like the subtle colors above.
The hook is a size 6, 3 xl hook. I use a little heavier thread (brown 6/0) because of the spinning deer hair. The tail is several clumps of furnace hackle barbs pulled from the quill. I used a single strand of brown wool from a tri-lobal yarn I bought at a yarn shop. You could dub this as well.
I tied in a wing of paired furnace hackle tips with the dark sides out (remember each hackle as a lighter side/underside and a darker side/outer side). I then tie in a clump of dyed brown deer hair and gently pull to encourage it to spin around the shank and create a deer hair shroud around the body of the fly. I then add another clump, shorter, to the head and spin the clump. I then tie off the thread without smashing down the hair and then trim the head to a blunt head to help displace water in a turbulent manner (rather than arrow shaped). Spinning deer hair
So many ‘must have’ options for the beginning stillwater fly fisher. Of course, the ubiquitous Woolly Bugger in assorted sizes and earth tones is a must have pattern for the lake fly fisher. The Little Fort Leech first caught my attention in, well the Little Fort Fly Shop in B.C. some 20 years ago. It has always been one of my top stillwater flies because I fish it with confidence. I have experimented with a brilliant green dash on the tail with some success, but frankly never with the successes of red. A simple black tail, black flashy chenille these days, black hackle and gold bead with that red splash. No other adornments…no flashy strands of Krystal Flash or ribbing. This a perfect lake pattern (I recall catching a beautiful, large Redside above Maupin on this fly on a very chilly morning) whether inched, stripped, wind drifted…what ever. Dragon fly nymph, leech, baitfish?
Many of us solely fish Buggers on stillwaters and even more of us do little more to impart life than kicking about in a tube or rowing one behind the pontoon boat. I have enormous faith in the pattern’s worth, in a variety of color combinations. I have vowed, this coming year, to fish more streamer patterns. I have a large hole in my repertoire of presentations when it comes to fishing streamers in rivers. I really wasted a lot of time last year prospecting over quiet waters with a dry. Laziness and short windowns of opportunity. Combo’s of Woolly Buggers will fit nicely into my Streamer arsenal along with Sculpin patterns I am experimenting with.
Soucie highlights excerpts from his book on how to use a stalwart pattern.
Just a crazy creation that has sat in a box for years and never been wet. Actually, there are several in the box and only today did the appropriate name come to mind. Impaler might be good too. Come on, everyone has to tie some bizarre stuff like this.
I posted re this pattern a year or so ago (6-19-08). This pattern accounted for a large rainbow from a Central Oregon lake on a cold, windy day. I couldn’t launch with the winds, so I walked the shoreline, getting out the best cast I could, letting the Intermediate line sink, then strip back with moderately fast strips of 6″ or so. The fly seems more attractor that bait fish. The paired wing (hackles) if paired and tied in correctly, will provide a flexing of the wing and suggest life.
Traditionally, the tail on this pattern is tied with peacock swords (shorter, more vivid colors). I used red hackle barbs from a Schlappen feather. I used red floss (can use silk or tri-lobal/1 strand) for the body. The tedious part for me is wrapping a tapered body. I wrap the body up and then part way back up and this creates a somewhat tapered body. I did not rib this pattern. The thorax is comprised of good quality peacock herl. I tie in 2 herls. I wrap the two herls to create a nice plump thorax. Do not crowd the eye of the hook. You have to leave space for the wings to be tied in as well as a hackle collar.
Now the important part is matching the Badger wings. The lesser used Badger hackle is used. The tier wants to select two feathers on the cape that are side by side to assist in matching the length. Take the two feathers and match them for shape and curvature first. Equality is important here. Align the two feathers by starting at the tip then make sure they match progressing toward the butt.
Each feather has as a dark side (top) and a light side. Each feather has a slight curve (concave-bottom). To pair the feathers place the two feathers dark side/convex side together. Measure the feathers for length with the feathers not extending beyond the tail. Now lay the paired feathers along the top of the shank and at a point at least a hook eye’s width back from the eye. The butt sections will extend out over the eye. Eye the tie in point and snip off the excess butt sections. Tie in the paired wing feathers, but make sure they don’t rotate and misalign here. Tie in, inspect, unwind and straighten them up if necessary until you get it right because this is the important part of the pattern….the correct alignment allows for correct movement.
Next tie in a larger Badger hackle with longer, webby barbs. Wrap the hackle 2 times. Trim the excess. Create a nice thread head to cover the materials. Add head cement if it suits you. If you study capes, you will see Silver Badger hackle suggested for the wing and collar. Furnace hackle is more common and just as good as the harder to find Silver. Don’t put on a bead head. If you weight it (I never have), then wrap a weighted underbody at the thorax area and then over wrap with the peacock
Hook: Sizes 6, 8, 10 on a 3x long streamer hook of your choice.
Thirty or forty years ago, some writers offered that if you had to carry but one fly it should be the Muddler Minnow. No doubt those were Brown Trout chasin’, streamer throwing anglers. In fact, the Muddler was reportedly a 1930’s Minnesotan creation for big Canadian Brookies (ok, for the foolhardy brookies). The pattern represents Sculpins and other small, bottom dwelling fish. It can even be tied with a bullet head (duck!) to keep its’ normally unweighted body down. To be honest, I have never done well with this traditional pattern. Why? I believe because I have not diligently fished the fly. I am not a streamer chucking FFer, yet the largest Rainbow trout I have ever brought to hand was on a Spruce Fly while fishing a non-private lake. I have not given the traditional pattern a fair shake.
Below is another variation of the Muddler that I tied (I tied my Muddlers some time ago and there they set) is the Black Muddler. This pattern adds more flash and movement (black marabou and peacock herls).
I am not that great at spinning deer or elk hair. I spin it, make a mess and hack away with scissors or razor blade and come up with a fairly blunt head, which is said to be a good thing to create water displacement and gain the attention of predatory fish. There are quite a few variations for the Muddler.
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be
satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”