With the success of foam-based patterns such as the Booby and FAB, it’s easy to forget how popular other buoyant flies such as the Muddler once were. In the 70s one of the most effective reservoir lures was a big White Marabou Muddler tied on a single size 6 long shank or as a tandem if something really meaty was required. Fished on a fast sinker or ripped across the surface it was deadly for big, fry-feeding trout.
With its head of shaped deer hair, the Muddler originated in the US and was tied to imitate a small fish similar to our bullhead. The use of deer hair was later extended by the late Dave Barker to create what he called a Spondoolie but what we now know as a Deer Hair Fry. Even with the development of patterns such as the Popper Minkie and the Booby Minkie, this pattern – in its various forms – is still widely used, the great thing about deer hair being that it can create a softer more natural-looking effect than foam.
HOOK SIZE: 8-12 wet fly
THREAD: Black 6/0
TAG: Fine flat silver tinsel
TAIL: Golden pheasant crest
RIB: Fine silver wire or oval tinsel
BODY: Black seal’s fur or substitute
BODY HACKLE: Black cock hackle
COLLAR HACKLE: Brown (red game) cock hackle
HEAD: Natural grey or dyed brown deer hair
- Run thread down to bend then apply turns of silver tinsel to form tag. Prepare and catch in a small golden pheasant crest for the tail.
- Catch in fine silver wire at tail base. Dub a pinch of black seal’s fur onto thread and apply in touching turns to form the body.
- When seal’s fur has covered three-quarters of shank, catch in a dyed black cock hackle and wind down to tail in evenly-spaced turns.
- When hackle has reached tail base, take hold of the silver wire and wind it over the body to lock the hackle-turns securely in place.
- Secure end of wire and remove waste. Trim off excess hackle-tip at tail then apply three turns of brown cock hackle to form the collar.
- Prepare a pinch of deer hair then offer it up to hook so tips project back over body. Apply three loose turns of thread over the hair.
- Steadily draw thread tight. This will cause hair to flare and also to spin around hook. If necessary ease hair around with fingers.
- Apply thread turns to lock hair in place then add smaller bunch of hair at eye. Cast off thread with whip finish then trim to shape.
- Using small precise cuts, work around hair to form a roundish shape. Take care not to trim off hair-tips which form part of collar hackle.