Muddler Minnow

Muddler Minnow

Muddler minnow -
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Tying the Muddler Minnow. Source:

How to spin deer hair

First designed to imitate a small bottom-dwelling fish, Muddler Minnows are now tied as general attractor patterns and to imitate anything from caddis flies to grasshoppers.

While each Muddler may differ in colour and profile, all have the same basis in their construction: the spinning and clipping of deer hair to create a buoyant head and body.


  • Hook: Size 6, Size 8-12 wet fly or 4-12 3X
  • Thread: Dark brown
  • Tail: Slips of mottled turkey feather
  • Body: Flat gold Mylar tinsel
  • Rib: Medium-width oval gold tinsel
  • Wing: Grey squirrel hair and mottled turkey feather
  • Collar and Head: Deer hair

Note: When tying Muddlers it pays to use a strong thread, such as Kevlar, that allows for plenty of pressure to be applied to the hair.

Tying Instructions

Source: The Fly-tying Bible, pp. 196-97.

Muddler Minnow tying step 1

1 After fixing the hook in the vise, run the tying thread from the eye to a point opposite the barb. Take two opposing slips of mottled turkey feather, place them together so the tips are level, and catch them in as the tail.

Muddler Minnow tying step 2

2 Catch in 3 inches (7.5cm) of medium-width, oval, gold tinsel, winding the thread, in close turns, three-quarters of the way back to the eye. Catch in 4 inches (10cm) of flat, gold. Mylar tinsel and wind it in touching turns back to the tail.

Muddler Minnow tying step 3

3 Wind the Mylar back to its catching-in point and secure. Rib the body with even turns of the gold tinsel. Secure and remove the excess of both tinsels. Catch in a slim wing of grey squirrel tail so that the tips are level with those of the tail.

Muddler Minnow tying step 4

4 Select two more opposing slips of mottled turkey wing and place them together, dull sides out. Secure the slips in place over the top of the hair wing, again so that all the tips are level. Trim the waste ends.

Muddler Minnow tying step 5

5 Cut a good bunch of deer hair from the skin. Place the hair on top of the hook so that the tips lie back along the wing. Wind in tow or three loose turns of tying thread.

Muddler Minnow step 6

6 Pull the thread tight. This will cause the hair to flare around the hook, producing a collar and the base of the Muddler head. Add further bunches of dear hair in this way until the eye is reached. Cast off the thread and trim the head to shape.