The Muddler Minnow

A Muddler or cockatush, is a small bullheaded like Goby fish found in North America. The Wisconsin nickname for these little fish is "Muddler". Other names for the fish are "Sculpin" or "Bullhead".

The Muddler Minnow Streamer Fly pattern

THE MUDDLER MINNOW STREAMER FLY. Hook size 2 4 6 8 10 12 - $US each

MUD1 Muddler Minnow Hook Size 2   - Quantity: 
MUD1 Muddler Minnow Hook Size 4   - Quantity: 
MUD1 Muddler Minnow Hook Size 6   - Quantity: 
MUD1 Muddler Minnow Hook Size 8   - Quantity: 
MUD1 Muddler Minnow Hook Size 10   - Quantity: 
MUD1 Muddler Minnow Hook Size 12   - Quantity: 

The fly designed by Don Grapen, of Gapen Fly Company, Anoka, Minnesota was called a 'muddler'. He said he designed it to imitate the darter or muddler minnow in the Nipigeon River. With its deerhair head and ruff as its unique features, it became a worldwide success. It became so popular because it can be taken for so many things; a small fish, a caddis, a damsel or a moth. Like so many successful flies, it spawned hundreds of different versions.

It was publicized in 'The Practical Fly Fisherman' magazine in 1953. It was introduced into Britain in the 1960's by a British tackle shop owner called Tom Saville who promoted the pattern in Europe. It has been documented that Ludwig Moedler, a German immigrant to the USA in Victorian times used deer hair rotated around a fishing hook, trimmed to a circular shape to create streamer flies. This sounds very much like a muddler pattern to me. These has been some debate over who should really be credited as the original designer of this great bait fish imitation pattern. My vote goes with Ludwig.

The original Muddler has spawned a large number of variations that all have the clipped deer hair head. It is now used all around the world. The head is tied with natural deer hair and then clipped into shape. . The Buoyant deer hair keeps the Muddler off the bottom, so it can be fished at all depths. The hair is hollow and the trapped air makes it buoyant. Fish them as a wake fly when the weather is dull which is usually late in the season when the sedges can be seen skating on the surface. A Muddler striped across the waves can induce ferocious takes from trout which will follow it for yards. Tied in natural colors this type of pattern can prove effective. With a sinking line its buoyancy adds life to the fly. Towards the end of the season trout go on a feeding spree to build up strength for their annual orgy. More trout show cannibalistic tendencies at this time of the year than any other and eat trout fry (baby fish). These small fish congregate in areas that suit their needs like marginal weed beds or entrances to feeder streams. The streamer lure now comes into its own. These fry imitations flies are probably one of the leading Streamer Lures at this time. On large saltwaters a Muddler Minnow fished fast at the surface, in a big wave, is always worth trying in late summer as a brown sedge fly representation.

The Muddler Minnows are true great flies. They are often used as surface streamer/lures for sea-trout fishing at night. In breeze midsummer weather skip it across the surface to bring trout up for an attack. They are also useful for salmon in shallow water. When retrieving try to mimic the action of the local small fry. You can fish the Muddler at different depths. It is a great all-rounder. Fished slow and deep along the bottom can fool the fish into thinking it is an aggressive dragonfly nymph. Fish it with slow steady pulls, pausing between each pull. Study where your fish are feeding. Try the muddler on a slow sinking line retrieved at a slow pace just under the surface. This fly is now tied and used all over the world. There are many variations on the same basic pattern.

The Muddlers are good imitations of a small sculpins. Many smallmouth bass rivers have large populations of sculpins. These creatures are bottom hugging minnows that live under stones in well aerated water. This means that smallmouths living below riffles often feed heavily on sculpins as the offer a substantial meal. Wade into a river just below a riffle and cast across and slightly downstream. Give your streamer time to sink and then strip the line to make your fly swim along the bottom a good six inches every five or so seconds. Make about six casts to the same location and make each one about four feet longer than the last. If you do not have any luck wade about three yards downstream and start the sequence again. This overlapping casting system enables the fly to be seen by nearly all the bass in front of you. A prime feeding location for bass is against a three foot deep shaded bank as this is where the sculpins like to live. Wade into the middle of the river and cast downstream tight against the bank. If you do not get an immediate strike move down stream about five foot. If you see minnows splashing through the shallows they are probably trying to evade predatory bass or trout. Smallmouths often patrol around gravel bars and grass beds on overcast days at dawn and dusk. Cast your fly about three feet in front of the minnow and to the side of the minnows. Aim to strip your streamer through the middle of the shoal in the hope of presenting it in front of the oncoming bass

I am a big fan of Kelly Galloup's methodolgy. Unweighted, neutrally buoyant flies like the Muddler Minnow tied on at the end of a full-sinking line. I've really increased my hookups. When you stop stripping, the fly sits there for a bit (instead of a straight drop down if using weighted flies). After all--what injured bait fish drops straight down after struggling? None. They float. Michael Watson, Portland USA

Photograph of a Channel Catfish caught on a Muddler Minnow fishing fly

I am a big fan of Kelly Galloup's methodolgy. Unweighted, neutrally buoyant flies like the Muddler Minnow tied on at the end of a full-sinking line. I've really increased my hookups. When you stop stripping, the fly sits there for a bit (instead of a straight drop down if using weighted flies). After all--what injured bait fish drops straight down after struggling? None. They float. Michael Watson, Portland USA

CUSTOMER'S COMMENT - The Ultimate Catfish Fly!
The muddler is a very versatile fly indeed! Would you believe what we've done in that lake, after much experimenting, is to finally decide that a muddler is the best, nearest approximation in all regards to a piece of floating pelletized fish food? This is what those catfish are keying on in that state catch and release lake. It's a small lake that has automated feeders out on it that go off a couple times daily. In meantimes, we go out in our float tubes and toss out some dog kibble, which also floats. The cats and big carp start rising just like trout as the wind carries the feed down the lake. We float along, pick out a good fish and work it just like a rising rainbow!! The muddler is the right color and it sits just right in the water, plus the catfish are able to inhale it easily. This was a big part of the problem for us in catching them this way. We've tried a few things since last year that they really would go after, but as they are not the best surface feeders, they would just flat out miss our bugs most of the time or just push alot of the foam things we had along with their noses. They were just too floaty. The muddlers have been the most successful so far to the point that I would say I'm done looking, I've found my catfish fly! It's great fun getting hauled around lake in your tube like a kid's cork until one can manage to get in and get your feet on the bottom and work them in. A great battle on the fly rod for sure! I hope those get here quick, catfish are very hard on my flies!

This is an e-mail we received from a customer Fred Laird, Virginia, USA "You will be pleased to hear that the maribou-muddlers and hoppers that I purchased from you produced excellent results on both large and smallmouth bass and some very large sunfish. Tight lines, Fred"

Whilst fishing some of South Florida's Intercostal waterways I was lucky enough to catch some baby tarpon, before they headed offshore to join spawning schools. It is ridiculous that they are still called babies when they can be nearly 50 lb. Your larger hook size Muddlers were the killers. I tried the minnow, olive marabou, white marabou and the black marabou. They all produced fish. Forget your tarpon flies. I'm sticking to your muddlers. I even had bass chasing the fly on the retrieve. Paul Carrier, Florida

Muddlers are in my top ten list of flies. Most of my fishing is on rivers and streams in Maine, USA. Occasionally I'll canoe a few ponds. Most noted are the rivers of Kennebec, Penobscot, Moose, Crooked, Rapid, Messalonskee, Kenebago, Grand Lake Stream, Magaloway, Dead River, Kenduskeag and Sebasticook. As always tight lines, Jeff Haresear

This is one of the flies I use in September when the fry of many coarse fish species will have been building up weight as fast as they can throughout the summer. When they start to shoal they become a very tempting target. The trout force them up to the surface as they try to escape. They 'boil' up on the surface and seabirds can be seen picking up fry from the top of the water.  This is where I cast my streamers. John Wilson. Birmingham

This is a very good fly pattern. I've had a lot of success with this, fishing for rainbow trout. HKPSG1Shooter, USA

Hooked and landed my first Atlantic salmon on that muddler!!! - Jeremy Jerome, Gesgapegiag, Quebec

Where I fish in New Brunswick Canada I find the muddler is one of the best for Brookies.. keeps some of the little ones off your line too - John Glass

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The Muddler Minnow Streamer Fly pattern
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