Published Mar 17. 2023 - 11 months ago
Updated or edited Oct 12. 2023

Micro Minnow

Minnows upcycle small lifeforms into a tasty package of protein for bigger fish to eat, so minnow imitations make effective flies

Micro Minnow
Micro Minnow
Nick Thomas

Minnows of one species or another are ubiquitous in most rivers. They upcycle small lifeforms into a tasty package of protein for bigger fish to eat, so minnow imitations make effective flies. Every year in the UK our fishing licences feature one of the excellent fish paintings of David Miller. The trout and coarse licence for 2020-2021 featured two minnows showing their characteristic gold and black patterning.

They are abundant in the rivers I fish. The Taff has very large shoals which scatter in a bristling panic as you wade in or out of the river. I catch them now and again when I’m fishing a fly which is small enough for them to take. Minnows are very tolerant of the warm shallow water along the edges of rivers where they are safe from being eaten by bigger fish. The picture of a shoal of minnows was taken in July by propping my waterproof camera against a rock on the edge of the Taff. The water felt like a warm bath as I retrieved the camera.

Inquisitive Taff minnows
Inquisitive Taff minnows
Nick Thomas
A hint of gold in the eye
Three centimetres of miniature minnow
A hint of gold in the eye
Nick Thomas
Making the tail
Making the tail
Nick Thomas

The first step is to make the tail from a piece of 6mm/0.25inch wide organza ribbon. If you don’t have any organza ribbon, and you should as it’s very useful stuff, you can find it in craft and haberdashery shops, or search online.

(A) Cut a 25mm/1inch long piece of ribbon and stripe it with a black marker pen on both sides.
(B) Cut the ribbon diagonally to make two equal triangles.
(C) Use a dubbing needle to pick out the fibres which run the length of the ribbon.
(D) Hold the points together in metal forceps or hackle pliers and weld the tips together near a flame.
(E) Trim off some fibres at the ends to create tags for tying in.

Once you have completed the tail, set it aside and prepare the hook by pushing the point through the middle of a piece of 3mm ribbon and then thread on the glass bead followed by the tungsten one. Now you are ready to go.

Micro Minnow
Pattern type: 
Nick Thomas
Fasna F-210 #12
Black 8/0
Miyuki Berry-Berry crystal and gold bead
Get Slotted 3.3mm silver tungsten jig-off bead
3mm brown organza around beads
Stripped and welded 6mm tan organza with black sharpie pen
Hends PBM35 tinsel
Skill level/difficulty: 
  1. Run on the thread behind the tungsten bead and remove the tag end.
  2. Push the beads forward against the hook eye and lock them in place with thread turns against the back of the tungsten bead.
  3. Fold the ribbon back over the top and bottom of the beads, tie in and trim off the waste ends.
  4. Take the thread back to the hook bend and tie in a piece of tinsel. Wrap the tinsel in overlapping turns up to the beads and tie in. Leave the waste end hanging.
  5. Place the tying tags of the tail on either side of the tinsel body and tie in.
  6. Cover the exposed thread with wraps of tinsel, tie in, trim off the waste and whip finish.
  7. Run a bead of UV resin along the body to secure the edges of the ribbon tail, then cover the ribbon around the beads with a thin coat of resin and set the resin.

Two specimens
Nick Thomas

The Micro Minnow can be fished however you want to. It’s light enough to cast with a 3wt rod, a floating line and a long leader so you can cast it upstream and let it drift down imitating a struggling minnow that has strayed from the shallows. Or for a change, cast it across or downstream and twitch it back streamer style. Alternatively, you can fish like you would a weighted nymph on a French leader or euronymphing line, on the point with a nymph on a dropper a couple of feet above. It’s a very versatile little fish.

A chub
A chub
Nick Thomas

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