The Muddler Minnow is one of the most popular fly patterns in the world. According to Joseph D. Bates, in his classic book "Streamers & Bucktails," the Muddler Minnow fly was invented by commercial fly tyer Don Gapen in about 1950 to catch Brook trout from the Nipigon River, Ontario, CA. Since then the "Muddler" has been copied by nearly every fly tyer and used to catch nearly every specie of fresh water game fish that will eat a fly. The Muddler was originally tied to represent the Cockatush minnow, a type of sculpin prevalent in the Nipigon watershed. The Muddler became popular in Montana and Alaska as "the" sculpin pattern, but in the Rocky Mountain states it was also widely used as floating grass hopper pattern.
It was only natural that Muddlers would also become popular steelhead flies. Pioneer work by such angling legends as Bill McMillan and Bob Grew brought the Muddler to the attention of west coast anglers. Now "Steelhead Muddlers" have evolved into many forms, but are most often fished in the surface film with a floating fly line and long leader. As such, they kind of fit into the waking fly catagory. However, Muddlers really aren't waking flies in the truest sense, because they tend to duck in and out of the surface film. This up and down bobbing and weaving action can be a turn-on for steelhead that are hesitant to hit any other type of fly. Muddlers are also fished subsurface with sinking tip lines. When the fly is submerged under tension it is often enveloped in a a large shimmering bubble of air that was pulled under underwater by the large bushy head. The Steelhead Muddler in a variety of colors is a very important fly type to have with you when fishing fall steelhead east or west of the Cascades.
This is a pattern that is deadly all over the world for many species of game fish. This gold-bodied version is a favorite in clear water and is the original version. Not as well known as a steelhead fly, it is never the less very productive. Ours are tied with very large heads so they buck a lot of water and entice fish that won't move for anything else.