Don's Fly Tying - The Skinny Muddler


[The Skinny Muddler]

My career with BC Tel took me to many interesting places. Looking back, the people that I worked with were mostly great and I will admit the work was challenging and even fun a lot of the time. However, as a dedicated fly fisherman, I have always believed in the motto that a bad day's fishing will beat a good day in the office any time! Such was the case when one fine June day a few years ago when I took a day off from my engineering communications job. I threw my car-topper, oars and anchor in the back of my pickup and headed out to Leighton Lake, near Tunkwa Lake just south of Savana about an hour's drive west of Kamloops. Living in Kamloops, a fly vest and a couple of fly rods remained behind the seat of my truck from March to November just in case I should experience a panic desire to go fly fishing!

While the size of the Kamloops trout seemed to run bigger in Tunkwa Lake with 3 to 8 pound fish not uncommon, it was a bit windy that day so I opted to fish the more protected but often productive Leighton Lake nearby. There the trout ran a surprisingly uniform 2 pounds in size. About a half dozen anchored fly fishermen were already plying a shoal not far from shore where I intended to fish. To my surprise and delight, I recognized the master of Kamloops trout fly fishing, Jack Shaw, laying out effortless casts from a sitting position in his flat bottomed, snub nosed aluminum punt. He was playing a fish hooked on a small dark chironomid as I found a spot to anchor in good water but not too near Jack or anyone else.

It was not long before I realized that this group of fishermen knew each other from the happy kibitzing continually going on, especially during the frequent and expert playing of very lively silver bodied rainbows! As time passed without any action on my part, I looked more closely at Jack's technique. He was using a floating line with about a 15 foot leader and a weighted black size 14 chironomid with a fine wire copper rib. His retrieve was so slow that it was hardly perceptible but he was rewarded with bone jarring strikes on every second cast! Alas, I did not have a similar fly or a floating line that day. As I searched my mind for a solution, I recalled having good success using a medium sinking wet line with a sparsely dressed muddler minnow fly at other Kamloop's Lakes. Many days of experimenting taught me that a thinly dressed muddler with a gold body and elk hair wings rather than deer hair seemed to work much better than the standard fully dressed muddler minnow. I tied on this fly and slowed down my wet line retrieve to the point where the fly began to hit weeds near the end of every cast. Soon the joy of seeing wildly leaping Kamloops trout dancing across the riffled water was mine as well! I keep two for the table and released two more, a testimony to the sparsely tied muddler when fished slowly near the lake bottom.

Materials

Instructions

First attached a piece of gold tinsel to the hook body and allow it to hang a few inches past the hook bend. Silver tinsel will also work well in some cases but my standby is gold. A good and inexpensive tinsel source is to cut a piece of mylar about 4 inches in length and pull out the individual strands as needed. Then tie in a small amount of silver squirrel projecting about 1/4 inch past the hook bend for the tail. Wrap the tinsel from the hook bend evenly to the eye and tie off. At this point, I like to take the hook out of my vice and re-attach it upside down in order to tie in a small amount of guinnea hen for the throat hackle. Put the hook right side up again to complete the wing. Turkey feathers are part of a conventional muddler but I have eliminated it to thin down the wing. First tie in a bit of red squirrel hair at the eye taking care to let it flow back along the hook shank to about the same distance as the tail. Then a small amount of elk hair also tied in at the eye will finish the wing. Clip the stub ends of the elk hair at the eye to form the fly head, tie off, cement and you have finished a fly that is one of my all time favorites!



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