Tie a muddler

Published Jul 14th 2007

These step-by-step pictures show you how to tie a nice muddler


I was tying... - ...Nils was watching and Henning was taking pictures
I was tying...
One evening when I was tying flies with a couple of friends, one of them, Nils, asked me to tie a muddler, just as a demo. And so I did. Luckily the other friend, Henning, was quick on the camera and caught these great pictures of the process.

The pictures actually came out so good that we decided to boil them down to a small article on tying a muddler. The process is not that difficult to do, but actually pretty difficult to describe in words. Pictures do a much better job.

This is just a generic muddler, but I will list the pattern in the end of this article anyway.
A notice on the deer hair, though: get good hair - the best you can find, and ask for hair for muddlers or deer hair bugs. Make sure it has as little underfur as possible, and get some natural (undyed) first. Dyed hair can be fine, but chances are the dying process has ruined its ability to flare and spin. Some dyed hair is great. Some is useless for this purpose.

And now: the picture sequence.

Ready for the deer hair - The body is finished and the fly is ready for the deer hair. Notice the generous amount of space in front of the wing.
Ready for the deer hair
Stacked deer hair - The first bunch of deer hair is critical: don\'t make it too thick, stack it neatly (according to taste) and measure it over the fly.
Stacked deer hair
Changing hands - If the deer hair is stacked, you have to be careful when changing it from the \
Changing hands

The first two turns - Hold the hair in position. Notice how the butts are trimmed already. Take two loose turns around the hair where you want it to flare.
The first two turns
Pull! - Pull tightly on the thread, flaring the deer hair. If you are spinning hair to cover the whole way around the hook, let go while doing so. Here I want the hair to stay on top, and hold firmly on the bunch while tightning the thread.
The result - This is the first of bunch deer hair tied in. The hair has flared nicely.
The result

Flat underside - Because I held on to the hair while tightning the thread, I kept the hair from spinning around the hook, and kept the underside clear. There is a collar on the top of the hook only.
Flat underside
Second bunch - This is the second bunch tied in. This is not nearly as critical as the first one. Trim both ends of a small bunch of hair, hold it to the hook shank, press back hair already on the fly and make three thread turns, tightning on the second and third one. Let go of the hair while doing so, letting it spin around the hook.
Second bunch
Press back - Press back the hair to make room for as much hair as you can. A fly this size needs two or three additional bunches when the first one is in place.
Press back

Whip finish - When the last bunch is tied in and spun, press it back with a hollow tube. Turn the thread around the tube before doing so, and slip these turns off the tube onto the hook shank to lock the thread.
Whip finish
Ready to trim - Cut the thread and varnish into the front of the fly. You are now ready to trim it.
Ready to trim
Trimming - Start trimming the top and bottom from the front of the fly. Then trim the sides and then rotate the fly while rounding it more and more - still from the front. If your vise doesn\'t rotate, hold the fly in the hand while doing this.

Behind the head - When the basic shape is done, remove the long hair behind the head and in front of the collar. Take care not to trim the collar. Press it down with one leg of the scissors while cutting with the other.
Behind the head
Front checkup - Trim the hairs in the front of the fly. Shape the head to a nice, round shape, and make sure a tippet can come through the eye.
Front checkup
Removing stray hairs - Remove the few stray hairs that are left. \
Removing stray hairs

Smooth the head - Run your scissors with very small cuts over the surface of the fly to smooth it really nicely.
Smooth the head
Done! - I like my muddlers with a distinct head and a nicely stacked collar. The original Muddler Minnow actually featured a messy, uneven head. The fish didn\'t care. I do.

Happy muddler face - The finished fly with my happy face as a backdrop - obviously pleased with the fly... and myself!
Happy muddler face

Happy Muddler
TypeWet fly
Martin Joergensen
Year of origin
A little difficult
Target species
Brown trout
Largemouth bass
Sea trout (sea run)
Smallmouth bass

HookKamasan B175, #4
ThreadBrown 6/0
TailSilver fox
BodySilver fox underfur
WingSilver fox and a little golden flash
Head/collarNatural deer hair

Don't miss all the muddler articles.

User comments
From: matt · mattpreet696969·at·hotmail.com  Link
Submitted September 11th 2011

bookmarked, gonna try this out tommorow after i get some good deer hair! been trying a muddler for so long with crappy deer hair so ima get some good stuff, and the pictures help a bunch! ive always let my deer hair spin around the hook and it never looked good at all

From: john maxted · johnatdutton·at·talktalk.net  Link
Submitted October 13th 2010

very good will try and tie a mudlar from your pics.thanks john.from the UK.

GFF staff comment
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·globalflyfisher.com  Link
Submitted August 15th 2009


Most muddlers are excellent sculpin imitations, and this one will be fine for your purpose. But you might also consider a more elongated and maybe weighted pattern such as the FMJNM, the Zuddler or a tube tied muddler or a pattern such as The Bow River Bugger. Another option is a large zonker streamer, which is a bit easier to tie.


From: dale thiel · dalethiel·at·yahoo.com  Link
Submitted August 14th 2009

ok i have a question i live in montana in the usa... and i am going to float the yellowstone river where the shields river dumps into the yellowstone and in that are there are scuplins galor and in the fall when brown trout go up to the shields river to spawn and they eat scuplins and scuplins so i was wondering what patterns you would reckamend

From: Tom Danielson · Tomgunsmithing_Dealership·at·yahoo.com  Link
Submitted June 22nd 2008

Make my day! Last night was my first real attempt at tying a Muddler and only had some natural bucktail. After a few false starts I ended up with a "2 clumper" that actually resembled a muddler with room for improvement but it was for sure a keeper.
I fish small creeks in Middle Tn for smallmouth (and Bass in general) and have been tying a lot of Closure Minnows. I went to a favorite Greenie creek this afternoon just to get out. It gives up some of both Large and Smallies. With not much happening with my Closures I tied on my Muddler. Within 30 minutes I had released 6 Largemouth 13"-15". They took it off the top with great vigor.
I didn't know what to expect and really thought that it would sink like a rock (not sure why) but it floated better than I ever imagined. (Are they suppose to float?)
Im sure I'll be tying a bunch of these and thanks for the great tying instructions. Once I saw it spin it comes together pretty quick. I can imagine lots of variation coming. Had a blast.

GFF staff comment
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·globalflyfisher.com  Link
Submitted May 3rd 2008


Fret not. The muddler thing will come, and suddenly they're as easy as anything. And yes, the trout do love them.


From: david etienne · amyandrew42·at·blueyonder.co.uk  Link
Submitted May 3rd 2008

this one almost had me beat but lots o deer later got it now i hope the trout like it ..

GFF staff comment
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·globalflyfisher.com  Link
Submitted December 3rd 2007


I tie muddlers for volume. The fatter the better - almost...


From: Daniel Klonoski · klonoski·at·aol.com  Link
Submitted December 3rd 2007

I like to tie my muddlers with a much smaller head and longer, sparser body to pulsate when retrieved.

From: John Kelly · j0hnkelly24·at·hotmail.co.uk  Link
Submitted September 10th 2007

Very good :)

From: horacio m. villanueva · villanuevaflyfish·at·yahoo.com.ar  Link
Submitted August 12th 2007

very nice and very effective in little streams or spring creek, for little and distrustful and astute rainbows.Size 10 to 12 long shank hook, weighted with few turns of lead 15 mm.

GFF staff comment
Comment to an image
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·globalflyfisher.com  Link
Submitted December 18th 2007


I tie on a LAW-vice - made by British Lawrence Waldron. And it not only looks good. It is good! Lawrence makes them to order, but has also created a vice in cooperation with Snowbee.


Comment to an image
From: Mike Harding · mike·at·csvr.co.uk  Link
Submitted December 18th 2007

A lovely clear set of pictures

What type of vice do you use? It looks very good

GFF staff comment
Comment to an image
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·globalflyfisher.com  Link
Submitted February 27th 2008


Again I have to ask what you mean by string? The tying thread is plain tying thread, which you can buy in any flyshop. And muddlers are as numerous as the tyers tying them. There are thousands!


Comment to an image
From: Todd · kit_kat1967·at·hotmail.com  Link
Submitted February 27th 2008

Was wondering what aut string to be used? How many different muddlers there are? I am new to the fly fishing scene.

Comment to an image
From: Kevin Perry · psalms23guy·at·yahoo.com  Link
Submitted December 26th 2008

I just got a fly tiying kit and it shows how to tie a "the dark cahill dry fly", could you show me how to tie that because it show's it in black and white very hard to see?

Comment to an image
From: Tom Danielson · Tomgunsmithing_Dealership·at·yahoo.com  Link
Submitted June 21st 2008

Well this was a BIG help.Tied my first and theres a lot of room for improvement but by golly I'll fish it! Your pics and instruction really cleared up some things. Practice make perfect.

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