The Black Marabou Muddler Minnow, created by Don Gapen in 1937 in Minnesota, is effective fishing fly because of natural body movement it mimics as it is retrieved. The original Muddler Minnows 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.
MARABOU MUDDLER MINNOWS. Hook size 2 4 6 8 10 12 - $US each
Do you like fish for trout from the boat on large expanses of open water? If yes, then in the summer a Black Marabou Muddler Minnow is a popular choice for a surface fly. It can imitate a caddis fly trying to take off in smaller sizes. But in the larger sizes during the summer, say hook size 8 or 6, can trigger off aggressive attacks and follows by rainbow trout.
When fishing from a boat, I like to use slightly longer fishing rods than normal. Rods about 10 to 12 feet are ideal to get the fishing flies as far away from the boat as possible, whilst still being able to maintain control. I find the best summer conditions, for this type of flyfishing, are during a cloudy spell with warm winds. As the temperature of the upper section of the lake increases, the trout hunt for food nearer the surface. I like to use a rig that consists of a buoyant fly as the top dropper and a slightly heavier fly as the bottom point fly. I use a wet fly or nymph on a size 10 or 12 hook or a gold bead headed fly. I tie on smaller flies in the middle as droppers.
I will cast as far downwind as I can and then strip back, with long pulls. The large clipped deerhair head of the Black Marabou Muddler Minnow causes a lot of disturbance on the water surface that attracts hungry lurking trout. As it bounces through the waves, it can easily be spotted by these keen eye predators. I have found that on some trips when fishing this way with a Muddler Minnow, I have had follow after follow that never resulted in a take. After some experimentation I found that the answer was to strip a bit faster. Another tactic that worked, was as the fly was getting near the boat, to suddenly pause and allow the Muddler Minnow to lie stationary for a couple of seconds. This often produced a take. Always remember to use a dry fly spray of gunk on your Muddler Minnow before fishing.
A large Muddler Minnow is ideal for Bluefish and Striped bass fishing. Striped bass can be found in many costal waters from the St Lawrence River south to Northern Florida on America's Eastern Coast and from Washington to California on the Pacific Coast where they were introduced in the 1879. They swim far upstream in rivers to spawn. The stripped bass can be distinguished from the European Bass by the seven to eight dark strips running down its body. Stripers spend the winter semi dormant in river systems like the Hudson and Chesapeake Bay on the Atlantic Coast but when the sea temperature reaches 48 degrees F in the spring they become active and start to feed. The shoals migrate north up the coast and return in September/October. Big fish are caught deep in early winter, but in warmer places like Jamaica Bay they are still caught near the surface. In warm waters they can be fished for all year on the fly. They can feed in the roughest surf. You can see them chasing smaller bait fish along the beach until their backs come out of the water. You will also find them holding in estuaries, deep channels, and off jetties, piers or sand bars.
Bass feed by trapping bait fish against a shoreline or by attacking them from deep below. Small fish are inhaled and larger bait fish are are grabbed head first and crushed. Stripers have a dangerous spiky dorsal fins so handle them by their lower lip. Stripped bass can grow up to 70lb. A bluefish feeding melee can bring up the bigger stripped bass
Stripers can be temperamental compared to the Bluefish who are an aggressive formidable predator that have a full set of sharp teeth. They are found in the same habitat as stripers. The bass normally can be found feeding on Bluefish leftovers of dead and dying fish after a feeding frenzy. If you are lucky you might witness one of these feeding blitz. They corral a shoal of baitfish into a big ball and then when the ball is surrounded they attack.
I was lucky to witness this on my last trip to the States last September. I was fishing for stripers when all of a sudden the captain pointed to gulls swarming around an area of water that was turning white with fish breaking through the surface. 'Bass?' I asked him. 'No those are Bluefish on the feed, change your tippet for wire. Those things have very fast teeth'. I used a floating line with a chartreuse and white 2/0 Lefty's Deceiver attached to the wire tippet. The gulls must have thought Christmas had come early. They were eating as many fleeing bait fish as they could swallow. The noise was very, very loud.
We were told to cast into the center of the swirling mass of activity. I hooked almost immediately. Blue fish are very strong powerful fish. My first was a seven pounder and my second a 12 pounder. The Captain shouted at me to be very careful and use big pliers to extract the hook or end up in hospital with bluefish bite wounds. I must have caught over 12 of about the same size range that day. I had a fantastic days fishing. Later in the bar I found out that many of the locals looked down on bluefish as easy prey. I'm sorry I think they are a wonderful sporting fish.
I have many "out-fished" stories but my favourite is probably from Iceland about 15 years ago. We were fishing the Hafjadara in the west. Our ghillie, Ludwig, the retired head of Iceland's best school and a fount of knowledge with a heart of gold, was adamant that I was wasting time when I took an instant liking to a little kink in the river bank. He said no one had ever had a fish there. I put on a smallish black muddler (he said I should use the universally popular Red Francis!) Result? 15lbs fresh-run salmon and a 45-minute battle! Hubris? No, but it is nice when your gut feeling is right! I heard last year that Ludwig is still alive and kicking. 15 years ago I tied a fly and named it after him. It caught on for a while there: front half red dubbing (seal's fur, whatever) rear half flat gold tinsel, gold rib over all, red-died squirrel tale as hackle tied all round. Or black/silver equivalent, with natural squirrel tale as hackle. Pity www.mcgregorfly.com don't do flies! I get mine from Craig! - Gregor McGregor in Hong Kong