The Muddler Minnow is arguably one of the most versatile patterns a fly-fisherman can possess. It is one of the few flies that can be fished wet or dry, in cold water or warm water, in fast water or slow water, to catch a wide variety of fish, ranging from trout and steelhead to bass and northern pike. Depending on the species being fished for, the fly can be tied small, #10 or #12, or large, up to #2. And though the pattern's color scheme is typically a natural elk or deer hair head and underwing, natural turkey quill wings, a silver tinsel body, and a red tail, purple and chartreuse are also popular with fishermen as well as fish. Because the Muddler Minnow is somewhat heavy, it fishes best with line weights #6 to #10.
Fished wet, the Muddler Minnow can double as a nymph or streamer. To fish the Muddler as a nymph, cast it up stream and take in your line at a pace slightly faster than the water's speed. To fish the pattern as a streamer, cast slightly up stream and bring in the fly so that its motion is roughly perpendicular to the water's flow. The retrieve can be steady or varied (strip, pause, strip, pause). Because the Muddler Minnow is somewhat large, which means it catches larger fish, it is best to get the fly down where the big fish hang out, either by waiting a few moments for the fly to sink or attaching the fly to a sinking line or tippet. The best casts for a nymph or streamer are the double spey or snap-t, both of which can be accomplished with an ordinary fly rod with a little practice.
Fished dry, the pattern makes a good grasshopper imitation or popper. When fishing the Muddler as a grasshopper, cast slightly upstream, aiming for cover (such as protruding logs or overhanging grass or branches), and drift the fly along the surface, mending the line as needed to prevent drag. When fishing the fly as a popper, typically in a lake or slow-moving reservoir, use plenty of floatant to keep it high on the surface and retrieve the fly by jerking the line in three to six inches at a time. If you're fishing for pike, musky, or other fish with sharp teeth, be sure to tie the fly to a wire-core leader.