During the cooler months, many freshwater species become lethargic and a ‘in your face’ approach is needed to prompt strikes. This month’s fly, the Muppet, has been designed for the times when you need to do a ‘almost nothing’ retrieve. Even while slowly sinking, the Muppet has plenty of action, and often attracts strikes on the drop. The Muppet is easy to tie, simple to fish and works in a range of freshwater and saltwater situations.
This fly looks so good in the water due to the thin strips of Arctic Fox Fur that appear to pulse with the slightest twitch of the fly line.
The Muppet is a great fly that requires minimum retrieval speed. Even when sinking the Muppet is ideal for working along deep sections of bank and the front of weedbeds in the freshwater rivers and impoundments. Allow the Muppet to fall through the water column like a drowning food item and saratoga will almost always swim over to eat it.
In the middle of the day, the Muppet is great for sinking into shaded areas under horizontal timber or undercut banks where fish often hide from the heat. I have caught bass, silver perch, Murray cod, tailor, trevally, bream, flathead and golden perch when fishing with the Muppet.
Short sharp strips see the maximum action out of this fly but a lot of different stripping combinations can be used to tempt fish.
The Muppet’s body is made up of a long fibre of Arctic Fox Fur, which has a thin skin that makes tying easier. It’s only available in white but you could use waterproof markers to add any highlights. I would like to see this material dyed olive, black or rust. You could use coloured cross-cut Zonker strips instead of the Fox Fur, but they are harder to tie with due to their shorter fibres and thicker skin.
The bead chain eye could be substituted with a lead eye if you require a faster sink rate. The diamond braid used for ribbing around the hook shank gives a occasional flash of silver from behind when the hair moves in the current, thicker chenille such as Estaz could be used to enhance this feature. The diamond braid also provides a thicker base to tie the Arctic Fox Fur wrap around.
A stinger pattern hook is better to use when tying this fly for freshwater only use. Gamakatsu, Mustad, Tiemco and others all make stinger patterns that are suitable. Stinger hooks have a lighter gauge wire, shorter points and smaller barbs for easier penetration, especially in the hard mouths of saratoga.
(1) Place the hook in the vice as shown and attach the thread with a jamb knot at the point on the shank opposite the point of the hook. Take some bucktail fibres as long as the hook and tie them in at this point. Take your diamond braid and tie the end in at this point as well. Wrap your thread forward and up to the eye of the hook.
(2) Palmer (wrap) the diamond braid forward along the shank so that the entire shank is covered. Each wrap will need to butt up against the last for the best effect. Whip finish off the end of the diamond braid once you are up to the eye of the hook and then cut away of the remainder whilst leaving the thread attached.
(3) Put your bead chain eye a few millimetres behind the eye of the hook and fix it with a series of figure-of-eight wraps. Whip finish off again but don’t cut the remaining thread.
(4) Wrap the thread back over the diamond braid until you are around half way along the hook shank. There should be at least 5mm of the diamond braid exposed behind the tie in point. Move the thread forward again until you are between the eye of the fly and the eye of the hook.
(5) Start wrapping the Arctic Fox Fur wrap forward so that each new wrap just overlaps the last. You will have to preen the fur backwards as you go to avoid over wrapping the fibres. This stage can take a little while to ensure all the fibres are lying nicely. Once you have reached the eye of the fly, cut the end of the skin in a little arrow shape, position it under the chin of the fly and tie off between the eye of the fly and the eye of the hook. The skin usually has a fair degree of stretch so take this into consideration to get it tied in tightly. Use you scissors to trim off any extra fur around the tie off point and put a little head cement on the thread for security.
You’re now ready to go play with your Muppet!
HOOK: Gamakatsu SL12S 2/0
THREAD: Flat waxed nylon (white)
TAIL: Bucktail (white)
RIBBING: Diamond braid (silver)
EYE: Bead chain (large black)
BODY: Arctic Fox Fur wrap- white (Tiewell)
FINISH: Head cementReads: 470