• Brian Lansing

my favorite fly – the Kinky Muddler

Fly fishing is a sport that allows creativity. Tying flies is part of that creativity. I couldn’t begin to fathom how many different patterns and combinations of flies are out there. But even with the hundreds of fly patterns available and more being developed by artists and tiers each day, along with creative names for the flies, fly fishermen and women all have their favorite. My favorite fly and the fly that I use most often, at least for non-trout and salmon species, is the Kinky Muddler or a slight variation of it. It’s an evolved pattern of the Muddler Minnow, made famous nearly 100 years ago.


We tie it on first or we tie it on as a last resort. It is our favorite fly for a reason. It’s caught fish for us before when all else has failed or we’ve had a really good day or good luck with a particular pattern in the past. A fly made famous by Jonny King, a fly fisherman, pianist and attorney from New York City, is my go-to fly. It’s a baitfish pattern that can be made as big or as small as you’d like and with a large number of color combinations. A majority of the Kinky Muddlers I’ve seen tied and a majority of the flies I have tied are on a 2/0 hook and 4”-5” long.


This is my favorite pattern when fly fishing for pretty much everything but trout. Blue and pearl is also a deadly color.

So, why do I like this pattern? I like how the taper and profiles are larger, rounded, and more natural. This is my favorite fly because it works and I have confidence in it. Not only has it been effective in saltwater, which is how the fly was developed and where it is most used, but it has been an effective fly in freshwater as well. Stripers, bluefish, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye, pickerel, and even perch have eaten the fly. I’ve read stories of the fly being used for roosterfish, giant trevally, and even tarpon. With the right colors, I’m confident this fly would work for musky and northern pike. Even a big brown trout could probably be enticed, though I have not attempted this yet.


While there are many other flies that work similarly and catch the same fish, such as the classic deceiver and clouser patterns, I like the Kinky Muddler better. I also have a running joke with my Brother and Cousin that “clousers are for dinkers.” While I have clousers in my boxes, I’ve never caught a memorable or sizeable fish with one and they become dangerous and painful little flying projectiles with poor casting or windy conditions. Those barbell eyes hurt. I’m not a huge fan of the action of a clouser either. While the up and down jigging motion created by the heavy head is effective at times, I prefer the action of flies without much weight better, such as the Kinky Muddler. I feel the action of an unweighted fly and its near neutral buoyancy mimics action of actual bait, whether it’s swimming, been stunned, or dying. I mentioned deceivers above as well. While they’ve been an effective fly for me, I like the bigger, more rounded and natural profile of the Kinky Muddler better.


I like that the fly can be adapted to match whatever bait you’re trying to match. Downsizing or up-sizing the fly is no problem as it is easy to keep the proportional tapers. The Kinky Muddler tail consists of a small amount of bucktail and four pieces of saddle hackle around the bucktail to create a tent taper, with the peak being the top of the fly or the baitfish’s back. Moving forward, the body of the fly consists of SF (Steve Farrar) Flash Blend in whatever colors strike your fancy. The lighter color should always make up the belly, while the darker color should make up the back keeping consistent with how a baitfish really looks. The body is created by stacking fibers, angled to the back, on one side of the hook and folding the excess back on the other side of the hook to create a sharp “V” pattern. This pattern is created with both the top portion of material for the back and the bottom portion of the material for the belly. The material is all pulled back at the eye of the hook while then building and wrapping a dam of thread at the nose to keep the body pushed back. The profile is created by squeezing the fly and using your thumb to create the desired shape by trimming excess material. Then use whatever eyes you’d like to bring the fly together. I like using nice 3D eyes and tend to use bigger eyes as well. I think eyes, action and profile are the most important part of any bait pattern. I’m positive that me writing how to tie this fly sounds more complicated than it really is. I suggest checking out some of the videos that are up of Jonny King actually tying this fly. I may post a video in the future if there is enough interest.


As I mentioned before, I like the pattern because it’s simple to tie. Different profiles can be created and color options are nearly endless. The fly and profiles can be created to match how big or how small you want your fly. Personally, I have found this fly to be extremely effective and it is one of my “confidence flies”, which I’ll talk more about in an article next week. Regardless of where I’m fishing, freshwater lakes or saltwater, I carry multiple options of this fly, my favorite being chartreuse and white or pearl. On my latest striper trip, I used this fly almost exclusively as it did a great job matching the small bunker around. It’s also been effective for walleye gorging themselves on shad.


A Halloween themed fly. I don't care that it's a bit cheesy.

Thanks for reading and give this fly a try sometime. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Happy Halloween!


Brian Lansing

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