This is a classic Cutthroat Trout fly fishing pattern fished as a waking fly when the fish are hunting close into the shore. It represents small bait fish and sculpins. It is used all down the West Coast of North America from California to Alaska
THE BEADED ROLLED MUDDLER MINNOW STREAMER FLY. Hook size 10, 8, 6 - $US each
I carry this unbeaded version of the Rolled Muddler Minnow to use as a waking fly when the Cutts are hunting up onto the beach for smaller fish to feed on. The deer hair head keeps it near the surface and it does not get snagged on the sea bottom. The buoyant quality of the head makes the fly bob up and down on the retrieve. Combine this movement with the rippling sideways swaying of the thinly dressed wing over a reflective gold tinsel body and you have a fly pattern that many Cutthroats find hard to ignore. This fly is sometimes called Murray's Rolled Muddler after the man that designed the fly in British Columbia, fly fisherman Tom Murray. He designed it to imitate sculpins and small bait fish that the sea-run Cutthroat trout feed on. Some are tied with a bead head. This one does not have a bead head. Others attribute the fly to being designed by Canadian Barry Thornton.
A 'Smelt' is the common name for a small, slender fish of the family Osmeridae, closely allied to the grayling of the family Salmonidae (Salmon family). The Rolled Muddler Minnow style of fly tying with a thinner wing dressing than the regular Muddler Minnows is ideal for producing streamer fly fishing flies that mimic this fish. Most species are saltwater fish, but some ascend freshwater streams to spawn and others are landlocked in lakes. The American smelt (or icefish), Osmerus mordax, averages 10 in. (25 cm) in length and 1 lb (.45 kg) in weight. It is valued for its delicious, fragrant flesh, although its feeding habits are destructive and sometimes cannibalistic. The candlefish (or eulachon), a smelt found from Oregon to Alaska, is named for the fact that it is so fat at spawning time that when dried and strung on a wick it can be burned as a primitive candle. In Alaska and NE Asia are found the northwestern smelt (or rainbow herring) and the pond smelt. They are preyed upon by many different predatory fish.
as a primitive candle. In Alaska and NE Asia are found the northwestern smelt (or rainbow herring) and the pond smelt. They are preyed upon by many different predatory fish. The top smelt, Atherinops affinis, and jack smelt are Pacific silversides of the family Atherinidae, which belong to a different order. They are abundant in the warmer waters of the Atlantic and Pacific, and named for the silvery stripe on either side of the body. Silversides, known commercially as whitebait, eat insects and small crustaceans. The small (3 in./7.5 cm) tidewater silversides, Menidia menidia, is found along the Atlantic coast; the similar brook silversides is a freshwater species. Larger and better known is the California grunion (5–8 in./12.5–20 cm), which rides in on high tides to lay its eggs in the sand. Beached grunions are collected by hand in large quantities. Other Pacific silversides are the top smelts and jack smelts, important to California’s smelt fisheries. The mullets (family Mugilidae), blunt-nosed warm-water fishes of both oceans, are closely related to the silversides.
Small schools of mullets frequent shallow waters, feeding on aquatic plants and on mud, which is ground up in the gizzardlike stomach. The striped mullet, Mugil cephalus, is quite common, a bluish fish that attains a weight of 1 lb (0.45 kg). Mullets are good food fish and are preyed upon heavily by larger carnivorous fishes. Silversides and mullets are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Osteichthyes, order Perciformes, families Antherinidae and Mugilidae, respectively. The deep-sea smelts, family Bathylagidae, are closely related to the true smelts. Deep-sea and true smelts are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Osteichthyes, order Clupeiformes, families Bathylagidae and Osmeridae, respectively.
Letter from Tom Murray
Good morning Craig. By way of introduction I am the originator of the Rolled Muddler. It was designed to imitated a three spined stickleback a prolific bait fish along the British Columbia coast in the 1970's. It became my go to fly when almost all my fishing was for Searun Cutthroat trout in the 70's 80's and 90's. There are a lot of variations now as with almost all flies because of new or now unobtainable materials. The original fly used brown mottled Turkey wing quill feather for the wing now and since the 80's I use mallard flank feather for the wing and tail. The original fly was tied on a Mustaad 9671 size 12. I have this fly in size 2 for pike and bass and size 16 for rainbow trout. A number of my fly fishing friends use this fly on 4 6 and 8 hooks for coho salmon off the beach in the fall. I have a friend in Norway who uses them for sea trout with great success. I received your write up about the rolled muddler from a fishing club friend here in Courtenay on Vancouver Island. Tight Lines
Courtenay, British Columbia
Vancouver Island, Canada
I am a searun cuttie fishing fanatic. In fact I come home from four months in the Bahamas specifically to time homecoming with the cutties congregating in the estuaries and adjoining beaches. I've tried all of the flies, but really feel that for the most part they are opportunistic feeders. I'm fussy about size, since the fry they feed on start out very small in the spring but continue to grow through the season. In essence a size #10 in April growing to a #6 or #4 in the fall. But my go to fly is the sparsely tied Rolled Muddler, I've tried them all and this out producing most and is very consistent. Get the size right, strip aggressively and cover lots of ground and you are good to go. By Rod Hamilton
On bigger systems, concentrate efforts in the lower sections of the river. On smaller systems, stick to the lower river and estuary. Cutthroat will not be found too far from the estuary at this time, since they themselves will be spawning in the next couple of months. As Rod suggested, rolled muddlers are a great pattern, and my box is full of them for coho and cutthroat alike - make sure they are tied very sparsely and the right size. In situations where visible fish will not hit them, try to determine the size of the fry. and use something similar - you will be pleased with the results. I hope this helps! By Malcolm Oakley
There's a pretty good book about Fly Fishing for Sea-Run Cutthroat, and that's its title, authored by Chester Allen (Stackpole, 2012). He recommends a couple of dozen patterns, including chartreuse Clousers, pink and hot pink Crazy Charlies, an orange Stimulator and a Miyawaki Popper. While I don't fish them often off beaches--usually wait for them to come up the Skagit or Nooksack--I like Rod's recommendation for a Rollled Muddler in gold (and maybe a little yellow and red in the wing.) The deer hair head pushes water, and in an unweighted version can be stripped along the surface making a wake cutts like to see when raiding up into shallow water. Sea-runs can get selective, I suppose, but it seems to me that more often than not are opportunistic feeders. It's the choice of beach and tide that's most important. Locals here are a little close-mouthed about that, but you might find a few hints at Washingtonflyfishing.com By Seth Norman