muddler minnow streamer

Muddler Minnow – most famous of all streamers

Muddler minnow pattern notes

The hook used by its originator Don Gapen was a Mustad 38941 3X Long streamer, this was one of the long flies. When tying slip wings its important to use waxed thread. The Dyneema I use in most my patterns is too smooth for for wet fly style wings and has to be waxed in order not to slip. 

The original Muddler Minnow recipe is as above but excluding the copper wire rib. The rib is a later addition. The original was tied with metal tinsel that required no protection from the small sharp teeth of trout but later as plastic tinsel became the norm the wire rib was added to protect the tinsel and add additional strength. When spinning large bunches of deer hair I recommend, if you are using regular tying thread a minimum denier of 3/0 waxed is necessary to have sufficient  strength to apply enough tension to achieve optimal flare in the deer hair.  When tying spun and clipped deer hair patterns your choice of hair is paramount. See my earlier posts regarding tying with deer hair.

If I was unfortunate enough to be be given the choice of having only one fly to fish for all species both in fresh and salt water, I would have no problem! The Muddler minnow would without doubt be my number one choice. The pattern I tie here is as close to the original as I can get.

Muddler minnow fly pattern

Hook: Mustad R73NP-BR # 10-4
Thread: Dyneema (waxed)
Tail: Mottled turkey
Body: Flat gold tinsel
Rib: Copper wire
Underwing: Grey squirrel tail
Wing: Mottled turkey
Collar/Head: Spun and clipped natural deer hair

Muddler minnow step by step

muddler minow step 1

1. Secure your 3XL streamer hook in the vice making sure that the hook shank is horizontal.
muddler minow step 2
2. You will need two mottled turkey feathers one from each wing. Cut two small slips one from the same position from each wing feather for the tail.


muddler minow step 3
3. Attach your tying thread and run it the full length of the hook shank so that it hangs vertically between the hook point and barb. Place the two small wing slips ‘back to back and tie in on top of the hook shank for the tail as shown. This is done by holding the two slips in the left hand while you make one loose turn of tying thread around the slips and between your finger and thumb. Tighten by pulling your tying thread ‘upwards’ This will stop your wing slips from slipping around the hook and keep them central and straight.
muddler minow step 4
4. Trim off the surplus slip butts diagonally and tie in a length of fine copper wire at the base of the tail. Now cover the hook shank with an even coat of tying thread. This is important to get a tinsel body of the same thickness.
muddler minow step 5
5. Tie in your flat tinsel about 1 cm behind the hook eye. Wind the tinsel in even close fitting turns all the way back to the tail and the back to the tying in position behind the hook eye. Tie off.
muddler minow step 6
6. Cut off the excess flat tinsel and then wrap the copper wire rib in the opposite direction to the flat tinsel, in even open turns. Tie off.
muddler minow step 7
7. Cut a medium bunch of hair from a grey squirrel tail and remove the under fur and shorter hairs. Stack the hair in a hair stacker. Now measure the hair wing along the hook shank so that it is the same length as the slip tail. Trim the hair wing to length. Now before you tie the hair in place a small drop of varnish on the cut end of the hair bunch, this will glue it in place and also make it more durable. Tie in on top of the hook shank.
muddler minow step 8
8. Cut two larger mottled turkey wing slips for the wing. Again one from each wing feather.
muddler minnow step 9
9. Tie these in the same way as the tail on top of the squirrel tail underwing.
muddler minnow step 10
10. Select some good dense natural deer hair from the winter coat. See my earlier post on tying with deer hair.
muddler minnow step 11
11. Cut a good generous bunch. This is where many tyers make the mistake of too small a bunch and having to add more bunches later, to make the whole head. The head should be made of only one bunch of deer hair. Clean the hair by removing the under fur and shorter hairs and stack in a hair stacker.
muddler minnow step 12
12. Place the bunch of deer hair with the tips facing back towards the tail, these will be the collar of the head. While holding the bunch in place make two loose turns of tying thread around the bunch, then tighten by by pulling upwards and the hair will flare. Once the hair is flared make several other tight wraps with a ‘zig zag’ movement as you go towards the hook eye. This will push the deer hair from side to side as you wrap and stop you from trapping the hair and tying it down flat!
muddler minnow step 13
13. Tie off and whip finish. You can now begin to trim your muddler head to the basic shape. See my Deer Hair techniques post.
muddler minnow step 14
14. You can choose here if you would like a cone shaped head. You can see on this image that some hair ends are burnt! see my deer hair tutorials for the full step be step of this technique.


muddler minnow step 15
15. Or a round clipped head. This style will move more water when stripped.
Muddler Minnow,  tied by Barry Ord Clarke
16. The finished Muddler minnow.
dyna-king vise

How to tie Muddler Minnow

The ultimate guide to deer hair

Frequently Asked Questions

How to fish muddler minnow?

  • The muddler minnow is a streamer pattern, originally designed to imitate a bullhead baitfish. The main component is deer hair. Deer hair is highly buoyant and creates a spacial ‘muddler’ action in the water which is a great fish attractor.

What does a muddler minnow imitate?

  • The muddler minnow is a streamer pattern, originally designed to imitate a bullhead baitfish. The main component is deer hair. Deer hair is highly buoyant and creates a spacial ‘muddler’ action in the water which is a great fish attractor.

When to fish muddler minnow?

  • As bait fish are abundant all year round a Muddler minnow can be fished anytime of the season to great effect.

How to fish a muddler minnow fly?

  • There are many ways to fish a Muddler minnow, sunk, dry, deep… But the most common is by using a retrieve that makes it swim like a small fleeing baitfish.

What size muddler minnow?

  • As with natural baitfish that are found in all sizes from small to large, the muddler minnow can also be tied and fished very effectively in just about any hook size.

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16 thoughts on “Muddler Minnow – most famous of all streamers

  1. Nice work. FYI, I am in the throes of finishing a book on Muddler Minnows and some 400 other Muddlerish patterns. It will be published (when?) as MUDDLER MAGIC by Frank Amato Publications. It’s a more ambitious follow-up to my 2005 book on Woolly Worms and Buggers, WOOLLY WISDOM (also published by Amato).

    1. Hi Gary, yeah you contacted me earlier about my deer hair photos with regard to your book but I diden’t here anything back from you! If you do need anything let me know.

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