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Bob Banfelder

Bob is an award-winning crime-thriller novelist and outdoors writer. "The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water" is endorsed by Lefty Kreh and Angelo Peluso~online at Amazon.

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September 20, 2015

Lethal Versions of the Celebrated Muddler Minnow Part IV of IV

by Bob Banfelder

Fine-Tuning Your Muddler Minnow

Obviously, a heavily dressed Muddler Minnow fly will prove more buoyant in the water column. Keep in mind that a Muddler Minnow is a streamer fly. Therefore, you want it swimming somewhere below the surface. I control depth, somewhat, by the shape of its head. A cone-shaped head will allow it to sink a bit then bob back up as you strip in line. A big rounded head will keep closer to the surface. In any event, you want the fly to push water so as to invite a strike. To reiterate, this is a proven deadly streamer fly. Rather than have one or two in your fly box, I'd suggest tying several in different sizes for different applications such as still waters, slow-moving water, or fast currents. Once you gain confidence in tying this fly, you will only be limited by your imagination in creating your own variation(s).

Fooling Fish in Sweet Water & the Suds

Here is a short list of freshwater fish that Donna and I have fooled with my raccoon overwing variation of the Muddler Minnow: trout (brook, rainbow, and brown), bluegills, crappie (both black and white), pumpkinseed, yellow perch, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, rock bass, pickerel, and pike. I vary stripping speeds and pausing times, for nothing is written in stone. When one technique does not work, try another.

In the saltwater column, I have caught any number of fish that swim in our local Long Island waters—mainly bluefish, striped bass, weakfish, and even fluke. I tie a larger variation of the classic Muddler Minnow, attributing its success to a bushier raccoon underwing. Again, a Mylar tinsel rib is optional. In lieu of Mylar tinsel ribbing material, I use several wraps of .035 lead wire solely to help weigh down the fly in the saltwater column. Simply tie and secure one end of a short length of wire directly in front of the raccoon underwing (see Part III step-3 recipe). Wrap the thread back to its forward position. Wrap the wire forward to meet the end of the thread and secure with a few half hitches. Cut the wire with a pair of wire snips (not your good scissors) and secure. Continue with step-4 in Part III. I generally use a long shank 3/0 or 4/0 O'Shaughnessy style stainless steel saltwater Mustad hook. A package of 25 3/0's will run approximately $10.

Saltwater Version of Muddler Minnow on 4/0 Hook

Raccoon Tails & Pelts

Buying traditionally tied quality Muddler Minnow flies from reputable companies can easily cost several dollars each because those flies are more involved to tie. Give yourself the added edge and tie my Muddler Minnow variation by using raccoon tail hair in lieu of squirrel hair for the underwing. This added step is the magic in the water column; ostensibly innocuous yet a powerful attractor. Tie a variety of sizes and save considerably. An assortment of effective freshwater and saltwater flies is not only tied with hair from raccoon tails but with furry zonker strips from their pelts. Quality raccoon tails run $3.50 on average. Raccoon zonker strips run about $7.00 for a narrow 14-inch length. Caliber raccoon pelts range between $16 and $20 dollars. You might find it interesting as to how I obtained my supply of raccoon material:

Donna and I had some pesky raccoons bordering our property, several actually residing under the back deck, creating nightly havoc ranging from ravaging vegetable and flower gardens to somehow getting into supposedly critter-proof cans of garbage. Those pesky critters became the bane of our existence. We went from pest control by employing a Have-a-Heart trap to the more serious pursuit of vermin elimination.

Out-of-the-box accuracy with a quality pellet air rifle was the ticket. Namely, a German made RWS Diana 34 T06 .22 caliber precision Classic. It was a wise choice. With open sights, shooting RWS Superpoint Extra Field-Line lead projectiles, I sent three 14.5 grain pointed pellets through virtually the same hole on paper at 35 yards! Although my group was as tight as a swollen tick, I needed to drop down and over to the right several inches in order to put lead through the very center of the black bull's-eye. Two fingertip adjustments of the elevation knob put the next shot parallel to the edge of the black center. A fingertip adjustment of the windage knob moved me into the black, but not its very center. A second adjustment put me dead center into the bull's-eye. Happy–happy. Now, was I lucky, or could I widen the same hole with two more pellets as I had done initially? I did. As a matter of fact, at first appearance, it seemed as though only two pellets found their mark. However, on careful examination, I could see that all three pellet holes embraced one another. Hence, those pesky creatures would not and did not suffer, for they were humanely dispatched.


R & R: Rifle & Raccoon Result

Plus This

Muddler Minnow on Sage #8 Weight Fly Rod & Pflueger Trion Reel

Equals Fish Like This

30-inch Striper

Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna

September 15, 2015

Lethal Versions of the Celebrated Muddler Minnow Part III of IV

by Bob Banfelder

At this juncture, you should be ready to proceed with tying the celebrated muddler minnow. If you missed Part I and II, go back to my blog posts published on August 1st and August 15th, 2015. Let's continue. For those new to pinch wrapping, flaring, and spinning deer hair, we'll simply employ a larger long shank 3/0 saltwater hook.

Procedure for Tying the Muddler Minnow:

1. Wax a one-foot length of thread from the spool of Danville's 4-strand rayon in order to keep the strands from separating. If you had selected either the 4-strand or Danville's 210 Denier Flat-Waxed Nylon thread (another fine choice), let's begin. Starting fractionally forward of the middle of the hook shank, wrap the thread rearward to the bend of the hook then half hitch.

2. From the narrower sides of a pair of matched turkey quill feathers, cut approximately two ¼-inch wide by 1¼-inch long segments to form the Muddler Minnow's tail; dull sides facing each other (i.e., shiny sides facing outward), pointed ends aligned and facing downward. Tie in atop the bend of hook and half hitch to lock the tail in place.

Note: It is important that you do not wrap beyond this point, which I'll explain momentarily.

3. From the tail of the raccoon, cut a small bunch of both the light and dark hairs. Atop the hook shank, place and tie in this section in front of your last wrap (fine tips extended halfway toward the tail, butt ends facing forward) to form an underwing. Do not allow the clump to roll to one side or the other. The pinch-wrap will prevent this. Traditionally, squirrel hair is used. However, in lieu of squirrel, the blondish/blackish color mix of raccoon hair blends rather nicely. This underwing will aid in supporting and giving a nice profile to the topwings explained in the next step.

4. From the pair of turkey quill feathers, cut one segment from each wider side, making them slightly wider than the strips you made for the tail, approximately 3/8-inch. Place the two segments together, dull sides facing each other (i.e., shiny sides facing outward), pointed ends aligned and facing downward to form a pair of perfectly matched wings. Employing the pinch-wrap, tie in along both sides of the hook shank, right alongside the raccoon hair underwing. Half hitch to secure.

5. Atop the bare hook shank, cut a clump of deer hair approximately the diameter of a pencil; remove the underhairs with your thumb and forefinger. Employing the pinch-wrap, tie in the stack. The length of the bunch will depend on the size of the fly. You want the fine tips reaching at least the halfway point of the Muddler's wings. Atop the middle of the stack, loosely make one wrap and gently pull downward. You will see the deer hair begin to flare. Working the thread through the flared hair, make a second loop and, once again, pull down gently but with a bit more torque. The hair should flare even further. With a third loop around the flared hair, pull downward with a bit more torque while you slowly and carefully loosen your pinch-wrap. The deer hair should begin to spin easily around the hook shank. It is why I had you initially wind your thread just forward of the middle of the hook shank and not behind the eye of the hook. Otherwise, you would not have had the room for continued stacking. It is a common, cumbersome mistake many flytiers make when flaring and spinning deer hair. Push the section of clear flexible tubing over the eye of the hook and rearward in order to tightly pack the deer hair. Half hitch (over and off the end of the tubing) several times to secure the fibers. The tubing serves as a terrific tool.

6. Continuing stacking, wrapping, torquing, flaring, and spinning clumps of deer hair in the same fashion until you reach a point 1/8-inch behind the eye of the hook. Three or four clumps of deer hair should do nicely. Remove the tubing. Wrap the thread to the eye of the hook and tie off with a series of half hitches—either by hand or the whip finish tool.

6a.) You may leave this Muddler Minnow fly as is, or you may shape its head to your liking.

7. A pinpoint of Wet ‘n' Wild Crystalic Nail Color upon the thread directly behind the eye of the hook (top and bottom) gives a nice iridescent, buggy appearance.

Curved scissors and a double edge razor blade bent into the shape of a U, or broken in half lengthwise, make great grooming tools for forming round, conical, or bullet-shaped collars and heads. Whether you tie this Muddler Minnow streamer fly for fresh water on a –3 ex long shank number 6 hook, or a long shank 3/0 saltwater hook, you have a deadly imitation. Tie them as small as you can manage for sweet water, and as large as you dare for the suds. The important thing is that you fill your fly box so as to "match the hatch."

In my final Part IV piece, I'll discuss Fine Tuning your Muddler Minnow ~ Fooling Fish in Sweet Water & the Suds ~ Raccoon Tails & Pelts. So please stay tuned.

Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna

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