Wednesday, January 19, 2022

The Murdich Minnow
Tie one on and you are instantly “in the game.”
By Dave Karczynski

The Murdich Minnow is not a novelty fly pattern. It avails itself of no new age synthetic materials, requires no fancy hooks, and can be cast on any rod you have in the quiver. Originally tied as a striper fly, this critter will catch anything from crappie to lake trout, though it is particularly deadly on bass, trout and Esox.

The Murdich, like another all-round all-star, the wooly bugger, is a platform you should experiment with. The version I describe below, tied on a wide-gapped TMC 8089, excels as a bass fly in sizes 2 and 4, and as trout food in size 6. In smaller sizes, downsize your Estaz from Grande to standard, or just trim your Estaz to the proportions that feel right to you.

For Esox variants, I opt for longer bucktail tied from the base of the tail, wider gauge Flashabou, and a head not of wrapped Estaz but rather EP Crustaceous Brush. This all goes on a much bigger and stouter hook, like a Gamakatsu Spinnerbait hook all the way up to size 6/0. On these large flies I also like to add a keel in the form of a few weighted wire wraps on the bend of the hook, which helps the fly track. While white is great for pike, when tying for muskies I go with either brown and orange or black and red for both tailing and body material.

There’s no wrong way to fish a Murdich (provided you tie it on with a loop knot). Hit one with a bit of Loon’s Henry’s Sinket and fish it with a tapered leader and floating line to bass in your local pond—twitch it just below the surface, fish it slower than slow, and hang on. For river smallmouth, throw it with an intermediate line to fish slow, and a type III sinker to fish a little faster, depending on water temps, water depth and general fish activity. For trout, a type VI sinking line will allow you to cast this thing a mile, skip it under overhangs, and retrieve it in sharp staccato swoons to entice beasts out of their holding lies. And for toothy critters, a type III sinking line has just enough downward tension to keep it from breaching the surface on the strip.

Whichever way you fish it, remember that getting the most action out of the Murdich takes both hands. Your line hand is responsible for making it dart and swoon with erratic strips and pauses, while your rod hand is responsible for making the tail tremble (use your twitchy forearm muscles to quiver the rod tip).

Materials

Tail: bucktail
Wing 1: subtle Flashabou
Wing 2: not-so-subtle Flashabou
Body 1: EP Fibers
Body 2: Grande Estaz

Steps

Step 1: Source a sparse clump of bucktail fibers from the middle of the tail on up. The fibers at the very base of the tail are hollow and will flare too much—save them for big pike and musky flies. A tail roughly twice the length of the hook shank is about right. Remember that the flash will be cut a little longer, so the overall length of the fly is not dictated by the bucktail, but by the top flash wing. Do not stack the bucktail fibers. A natural taper contributes greatly to the overall effect of the fly.

Step 2: Choose a sparse clump of Pearlescent Flashabou and tie it on top of the bucktail. To create a sense of natural taper, cut it ¼ to ½ inch longer than the bucktail.

Step 3: Select a clump of contrasting flash, like Holographic Silver Flashabou. This clump should be slightly thicker than the one preceding it, since it’s this topmost wing that will really define the profile of the fly. Continue creating your natural taper by cutting it ¼ to ½ inch longer than the previous layer of Flashabou. (NOTE: After tying in this topmost wing, do not cut off the excess; leave it about inch long and facing forward toward the eye of the hook).

Step 4: It’s time to tie in the shoulders of the fly in the form of two symmetrical clumps of EP Fibers, tied in on either side of the hook shank (left and right, not top and bottom). These clumps should be substantial—about the size of your pinkie when compressed. Once both are secured (glue at this stage helps), fold the excess material of the top Flashabou wing back and wrap in place.

Step 5: It’s now time to finish the fly with a head. Tie your Estaz in on top of the wing materials, and wrap forward with tight, touching wraps, using your free hand to strike the fibers back over each wrap.

Step 6: As an optional step, you can use a marker to touch up the top of the head so that it roughly matches the color topmost Flashabou wing, whether that be silver, black, chartreuse, olive, etc.

Dave Karczynski
Dave Karczynski is the author of Smallmouth and From Lure to Fly. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan and serves as Fly Fishing International’s man on the spot when someone needs to go blindly deep into bear country and return with a great story to tell.