Baits, Lures & Flies photo

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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

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.