Classic Video: How to Tie the Muddler Minnow

The Muddler Minnow was first tied by Minnesota angler Don Gapen in 1936 on the Ontario’s Nipigon River, where he owned a sportsmen’s resort. The fly was designed to catch the huge brook trout of the Nipigon, but variations of the fly have since caught hundreds of species, in fresh and salt water. Although most anglers consider it an imitation of a sculpin, you can fish the Muddler as a streamer, dead-drift it, or even grease it up as a grasshopper imitation.

When I first started working at American Angler, my mentor, Art Scheck once cracked that we could run an article on how to tie the Muddler Minnow in every issue and no one would complain—because so many tiers struggled with the pattern. Until you get the hang of it, working with matched turkey quills and especially spinning the deer hair can be pretty frustrating.

Lucky for you, Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions has excellent solution for these problems, as well as a few tricks for making the whole tying process easier. Here, you’ll learn how to use half a double-edge razor to cut the turkey quills, how to attach them so they stay straight, how to spin deer hair to make the collar and head (using a Krazy Straw, no less), and how to use your bobbin head to tie off the fly .

     Muddler Minnow
     Hook: 3X-long nymph hook (here a Dai-Riki #710), size 10.
     Thread 1: Dark Brown, UTC 70 denier.
     Tails: Natural mottled turkey-wing quills, matched
     Body: Gold Sparkle Braid.
     Underwing: Gray squirrel tail.
     Wing: Natural mottled turkey-wing quills, matched.
     Adhesive: Head cement
     Thread 2: Dark Brown, UTC 140-denier.
     Collar and head: Natural brown deer hair.
     Tools: Double-edge razor blades, Krazy Straw
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3 thoughts on “Classic Video: How to Tie the Muddler Minnow”

  1. Biggest smallmouth I ever caught was on a size 4 Muddler greased to float (Grasshopper).
    Biggest redear sunfish I ever caught was on a size 12 “Mini-Muddler” sight-fished over bedding fish.
    Only wild Missouri rainbows I ever caught were on a size 8 Muddler swung through heavy deep chutes.
    It is indeed a fly for many species and many situations.

    1. Less expensive than buying barbless hooks, easier to retrieve the fly once you’ve caught a fish and some places require barbless hooks or the barbs removed to legally fish. Easiest time to do it is at the vise. Oh yeah, if/when you practice catch and release, it does less harm to the fish, especially the small ones that I seem to catch more of.

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