Muddlers, Betters, and other bucktails

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Eperous
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Muddlers, Betters, and other bucktails

Post by Eperous » Sat Jan 14, 2012 5:04 pm

Finished filling all my 2012 streamer needs, at least for now anyway. I whipped up a few Fran Betters Mini-Muddlers; if I could only fish 10 different fly patterns the entire trout season, April 1st to November 30th, Betters’ Mini-Muddler would easily be one of those ten patterns.

Mini-Muddler, #10 Mustad 9671:

Image

I recall walking into Fran Betters shop back in the late 1960’s, buying a few flies, seeking some information about fishing the West Branch of the Ausable River. I don’t know how the conversation came up, but he highly recommended a Mini-Muddler. He even gave me a tip; fish it dry covered with mucilin, then pop it under the water’s surface, and let it rise to the stream top like a hatching insect. It works; I’ve done that more than a few times myself. This pattern has been in my fly box since the late 1960’s, tied on #8 and #10 Mustad 9671 hooks. I’ve fished it lot as a wet fly/small streamer, dry fly in the pinch for hoppers, and even nymphs when I add some shot to my tippet. It’s a real "go to" fly, that saved more than a few outings which would have been fishless otherwise. Betters book, Fran Betters’ Fly Fishing – Fly Tying and Pattern Guide is a real nice resource, several patterns in there you shouldn’t be without.

As for the Muddler Minnow, it’s hard to go wrong with this streamer, and its many muted variations. Another nice book for serious streamer fishers is Galloup & Linsenman’ Modern Streamers for Trophy Trout. I picked up a couple nice rabbit strip Muddler versions in there, including Kiwi Muddler and the Madonna. The Kiwi I tend to use early-to-mid season; once late September rolls around, it’s Madonna time.

Some Muddlers, from left to right: #4 Muddler Minnow, #4 Yellow Marabou Muddler, #4 Kiwi Muddler, #4 Black rabbit-strip Muddler, #4 Madonna:

Image

I don't fish the Yellow Marabou Muddler much anymore; it also was a fall streamer - the Madoona has replaced it. But I recall one mid-September day on the upper Hudson River, just upstream from its junction with the Boreas River in back country. A huge brown crushed that Marabou Muddler. I went back to the section of the Hudson seveal times, over different years but never caught anything there larger than 17 inches, though I never forgot that big brown either.

Also tied up a few Mickey Finns today. Probably not the favorite of a lot of SGM board members; I use to chuckle at the very mention of this bucktail also, but no more. I’ve watched our oldest son catch too many fish on the Mickey Finn while I tossed classic patterns, like the Grey Ghost, practicing my casting and not much more. There are a few flies that seem to be just a notch above fishing worms, that always seem to catch tough fish. A small Crowe Beetle seems to move selective feeding browns, a Woolly Bugger is just plain deadly, and then there’s Mister Finn, the Mick. Say what you will, the Mickey Finn works. By the way, I tie mine with fluorescent yellow and red deer tails, they seem to work better.

Mickey Finn, #4 Mustad 9575:

Image

On to tying nymphs next.

Ed

Ed Pirie
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Re: Muddlers, Betters, and other bucktails

Post by Ed Pirie » Sat Jan 14, 2012 5:08 pm

Nice ties Ed -

If I had to choose only two flies to use all season, I would want the "Mini Muddlers" and some "Mini Hornbergs" - always good results with these two flies - might want to throw in some "X-Caddis" if I get to choose a 3rd fly.

Thanks for putting these up,

Ed Pirie
West Topsham, Vermont

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Eperous
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Re: Muddlers, Betters, and other bucktails

Post by Eperous » Sat Jan 14, 2012 5:12 pm

Ed Pirie wrote: ... If I had to choose only two flies to use all season, I would want the "Mini Muddlers" and some "Mini Hornbergs" - always good results with these two flies - might want to throw in some "X-Caddis" if I get to choose a 3rd fly. ...
Thanks Ed, the X-Caddis in sizes 14 to 20 is my #1 dry fly and clearly makes my top 10 list also... another topic for another day...

Ed

shakey
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Re: Muddlers, Betters, and other bucktails

Post by shakey » Sat Jan 14, 2012 7:31 pm

i don't care what anybody says about a mickey finn or a red and white.just a durned fish catcher!

viking
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Re: Muddlers, Betters, and other bucktails

Post by viking » Sun Jan 15, 2012 4:14 pm

Nice flies, love the Mini-Muddler :) .
//Janne

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Eperous
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Re: Muddlers, Betters, and other bucktails

Post by Eperous » Sun Jan 15, 2012 4:20 pm

viking wrote:Nice flies, love the Mini-Muddler :) .
//Janne
Thanks... I've been fishing it since the late 1960's, over 40 years now in streams and ponds... I don't use it all the time, but when I do, it's a fish catcher.... not my idea, but that of the late Fran Betters... :D

Yes Shakey, Mickey Finn's do work... ;)

Ed

skondolf
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Re: Muddlers, Betters, and other bucktails

Post by skondolf » Mon Jan 16, 2012 8:53 am

I recently picked up Galloup & Linsenman’ Modern Streamers for Trophy Trout also. I was curious if you've ever tied/fished with the Zoo Cougar that's featured in the book. That too appears to be another Muddler knock-off.

Oh yeah, love the flies - thanks for posting/sharing.
Best Wishes,
Steve
><((((((*>

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Eperous
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Re: Muddlers, Betters, and other bucktails

Post by Eperous » Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:17 am

skondolf wrote:I recently picked up Galloup & Linsenman’ Modern Streamers for Trophy Trout also. I was curious if you've ever tied/fished with the Zoo Cougar that's featured in the book. That too appears to be another Muddler knock-off.

Oh yeah, love the flies - thanks for posting/sharing.
Yes I did Steve... also tied the Butt Monkey for which I went out and purchased the right color materials... I didn't do much with either pattern, never caught a fish --- but that doesn't mean anything... could have been when or how I fished these... since the Kiwi and Madonna worked well for me, I stucked with them and gave up on the others... though I'm partial to rabbit-strip type Muddlers, there is a limit to how many flies one can carry & fish, IMO... give the Zoo Cougar a shot, and let us know what you think...

Ed

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Eperous
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Re: Muddlers, Betters, and other bucktails

Post by Eperous » Mon Jan 16, 2012 10:25 am

Below is an actual Mini-Muddler that Fran Betters tied... I purchased this, and a half dozen other patterns that he is known for back in the late 1960's while up in the Adirondacks fishing the West Branch of the Ausable... this was long before shadow boxes of flies came into vogue... I recall asking him to tie me some flies that I could use as models and later mount... he just looked up at me from his vise and said, "pick some out of the bins, they're all good". Betters probably tied more flies than anyone else I ever met... several of his patterns have withstood the test of time, classics in every sense of the word - but it's clear that he tied for speed.... that said, his fly patterns did, and still do catch fish...

The picture below was taken of his Mini-Muddler under glass, on a peg... note that signature hot orange thread he often used...

Image

Ed

SgtMajUSMC
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Re: Muddlers, Betters, and other bucktails

Post by SgtMajUSMC » Mon Jan 16, 2012 11:39 am

Ed,

I met Fran in the early 90's at one of the early Fly Fishing Shows held in Boston. I'd been given some of his patterns by my mentors, and many from my area of western New York used to make trips to the West Branch of the Ausable.

One of my friends talks about having six or seven flies when he started fishing, and catching the same number of trout that year. He spoke of gathering Haystacks and Usuals from the streamside branches up there to re-stock his fly box.

Fran was quite a character. I showed him some Haystacks that I tied with a hot orange wing, and he examined the flies, turning them over, looking at them from below, etc. He asked me if I knew how to make it a better fish catcher. When I responded that I didn't, he told me to tie them to a stick of dynamite. Classic.

I agree that the Danville's flourescent fire orange thread really does something for a fly, too. I always liked watching Fran tie. He was fast, and certainly tied in a rough, workmanlike style.

Another great post.

Thanks,

Tim

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