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The Muddler Minnow: Best Fly for Fall Trout

If I had to pick one trout fly for anywhere in the country now, it would be an easy choice: the Muddler Minnow. This pattern (and its cousins) can be fished several ways, and it imitates a wide range of things trout love to eat. Greased up, it floats like a grasshopper. Stripped through deep pools, it looks like a juicy sculpin. Skated at night, it's a mouse. The more creative you are, the more you appreciate this classic.


Photograph by Travis Rathbone

Anatomy of a fly
The typical Muddler features a spun deer hair head, a turkey feather underwing and tail, and a tinsel-wrapped body.

Top Spin 
The more densely spun and tightly clipped the deer hair, the more buoyant the Muddler, and the more water it displaces when ripped below the surface as a streamer. 


Photograph by Kyle Thompson

Bald Head
The original Gapen Muddler, created in 1937 by Don Gapen, has a sparser head section and is ideal for clear sculpin-laden waters.


Photograph by Kyle Thompson

Soft Touch
A Marabou Muddler has a softer marabou underwing, which pulsates in the water. It's a solid leech imitation when dead-drifted. 


Photograph by Kyle Thompson

Heavy Metal
The weighted Tunghead Muddler dives quickly. Fish it by swinging it through swift currents, or dredge it through deep pools.


Photograph courtesy of Percysflies.com

Dark Secret
The Black Muddler is best for fishing in tinted water, in low-light conditions, or on the surface as a cicada or cricket imitation.

Comments (8)

Top Rated
All Comments
from Dangle wrote 29 weeks 4 days ago

Excellent pattern you just make way too much of a stretch as to what it can represent IMO of course. Very poor mouse pattern, and hardly a good leach pattern, but who knows why an aggressive fish takes a fly for what?

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from buckhunter wrote 29 weeks 4 days ago

The Classic Muddler has caught a lot of fish. I only wish there was a pattern where the hook rode up.

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from Dangle wrote 29 weeks 4 days ago

Tie your pattern on a fly tying jig hook. You get one of the best actions in all of fishing that jig action....if you bead the head with a tungsten bead, and the hook barb rides up.

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from kmcbroom wrote 29 weeks 3 days ago

I can remember catching big rainbows in a small lake in Alaska. I used a float tube and in the summer the Muddler Minnow was hard to beat. I loved to strip it quickly so it would create a wake on the surface and then watch a 22" rainbow come from out of nowhere to engulf it. Good times. I could see the peak of Mt Mckinley even while sitting in the float tube, if the weather was right. Great pattern and great information. Thanks

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from Remaxman wrote 29 weeks 2 days ago

Used a Muddler while fishing the Skilak Loop in Alaska. 1:30 a.m in July, I hooked what I thought was a Silver. Ended up being a 16 pound Rainbow. Been a "Muddler Man" ever since!

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from Dangle wrote 29 weeks 2 days ago

16 lb rainbows are called steelhead.

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from FLYFISHDOG wrote 29 weeks 20 hours ago

Great Article Kirk,
Muddler is the fall fly and great to always carry in the box. Added bonus is it's pretty easy to tie and the materials come in lots of colors Recommendation is to carry some scissors for on water modifications.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 28 weeks 5 days ago

Not easy to tie for many...spinning deer hair? Most can't even recognize deer hair that will spin well. And it all depends on what's going on for the water you are on at the time.

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from Dangle wrote 29 weeks 4 days ago

Excellent pattern you just make way too much of a stretch as to what it can represent IMO of course. Very poor mouse pattern, and hardly a good leach pattern, but who knows why an aggressive fish takes a fly for what?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 29 weeks 4 days ago

The Classic Muddler has caught a lot of fish. I only wish there was a pattern where the hook rode up.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 29 weeks 4 days ago

Tie your pattern on a fly tying jig hook. You get one of the best actions in all of fishing that jig action....if you bead the head with a tungsten bead, and the hook barb rides up.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from kmcbroom wrote 29 weeks 3 days ago

I can remember catching big rainbows in a small lake in Alaska. I used a float tube and in the summer the Muddler Minnow was hard to beat. I loved to strip it quickly so it would create a wake on the surface and then watch a 22" rainbow come from out of nowhere to engulf it. Good times. I could see the peak of Mt Mckinley even while sitting in the float tube, if the weather was right. Great pattern and great information. Thanks

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Remaxman wrote 29 weeks 2 days ago

Used a Muddler while fishing the Skilak Loop in Alaska. 1:30 a.m in July, I hooked what I thought was a Silver. Ended up being a 16 pound Rainbow. Been a "Muddler Man" ever since!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 29 weeks 2 days ago

16 lb rainbows are called steelhead.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from FLYFISHDOG wrote 29 weeks 20 hours ago

Great Article Kirk,
Muddler is the fall fly and great to always carry in the box. Added bonus is it's pretty easy to tie and the materials come in lots of colors Recommendation is to carry some scissors for on water modifications.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 28 weeks 5 days ago

Not easy to tie for many...spinning deer hair? Most can't even recognize deer hair that will spin well. And it all depends on what's going on for the water you are on at the time.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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