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Adventures in Fly Tying... February 2010

The Murdich Minnow
Fly and Text by Joe Cornwall
Video Production by Jim Stuard


The Murdich Minnow was created by Bill Murdich for Umpqua Feather Merchants, along with his Murdich Wiggler.  The fly was designed for saltwater species and according to the Tight Lines fly shop, a vocal and astute promoter of the pattern, it was specifically created for striped bass.  I was first made aware of the pattern in a series of emails with a fellow Midwestern smallmouth addict back in 2007, and came across it again in the bins of a Minneapolis fly shop in 2008.  Not being one who needs a ton of bricks to hit his head to recognize a good thing, I purchased a couple as models and slipped them into my streamer box. 

The flies worked wonders on aggressive smallies that autumn, so a few more were tied for the 2009 season.  It worked just as well, and perhaps even a bit better, on the Ohio River wipers, so a few more found their way into my selection.   Everywhere I cast the fly I got a positive reaction.  There was definitely a touch of magic in the recipe, but it was with the discovery of a "new" fly tying adhesive and the incorporation of Wapsi Hackle Chenille that the pattern just came alive for me.  By December of 2009 I had fished the fly in several states and for species as diverse as hybrid stripers, smallmouth and largemouth bass, and butterfly peacock bass with success on every outing.

Wapsi Palmer Chenille was first introduced at the 2007 Fly Fishing Retailer trade show.  According to the Wapsi web site: "Palmer Chenille is a Mylar based flash product with all of its fibers on a single side. When wrapped in closely spaced wraps around the hook, it makes a dense, flashy body."  A sample pack from that show that had been bouncing around my tying desk quickly found its way into a dozen or so Murdich Minnows.  Eureka! moment number 1: this is the stuff that really makes the head of the fly flow into the tail!  Palmer Chenille has synthetic fibers coming off one side, making a perfect profile.  I liked the effect much better than the original cactus chenille, and confidence in a fly is a big part of its effectiveness.  A little more research uncovered Crystal Trilobal Hackle from Orvis, a material that's very similar to the Wapsi product, but is available in useful 3/4-inch and 1 1/4-inch sizes.  With this material you'll have to stroke back the fibers on each wrap, but the colors and sizes are worth it.  I'm sure you can find even more variations on this synthetic hackle theme if you check with your local fly shop.  Now I had a real selection of sizes and colors to pursue variation of what was quickly becoming a favorite fly!

The second Eureka! moment came when I purchased a tube of Liquid Nails Clear Small Project Adhesive.  I'm an inveterate snooper of the glue and adhesive aisles at the local hardware stores and, like an inviting fabric shop, I just have to take a glance around to see if there's anything new that I might be able to use.  CSPA, as I shall refer to it, is heavily viscous with a consistency similar to silicone caulk, which it is intended to replace in small repairs.  Although it takes a full 24 hours to dry and about 2 hours to set to a "tacky" consistency, it resists running and dries perfectly clear.  It's the ideal material for putting eyes on deer hair bugs... and palmered synthetic hackle!  It can be worked into the material to give a soft, but nearly indestructible, texture that its totally transparent to the host material.  In other words, this stuff has a million uses on the fly tying bench!

When this fly is tied of totally synthetic materials it sheds water immediately on the back cast, making a size 2 fly an easy load for a 6-wieght fly line.  It's also very translucent, with excellent flash properties. I love to fish this fly aggressively on a sunny day when the old adage "bright day - bright fly, dark day - dark fly" would have us looking for a fly that looks, and swims, just like this. 

The video production of this pattern was filmed "live" at the Buckeye United Fly Fishers Greater Cincinnati Fly Fishing Show on February 6, 2010.  The Murdich Minnow can be tied in any number of colors and in sizes from 6 to 2/0 with readily available materials.  Tie a few for your fly box and share your success with us on the Fly Fish Ohio Facebook Fan Page!


Hook: Do-It 455, size 4 to 2/0.  Size 2 used on this fly.  Eagle Claw 254, Gamakatsu SC15 or similar hooks all work well.  I like a nickel-plated (or stainless) O'Shaughnessy bend, about 1XL.
Thread: Danville 6/0 monofilament

Body: Wapsi Palmer Chenille, Orvis Trilobal Hackle or similar in 1.25" size for a 2 to 1/0 hook.

Back: Prismacolor Premier Cool Grey 80% marker

Tail Layered clear white Unique Hair, Flashabou Ice Blue Pearl and Flashabou Silver

Belly and Sides: Wing'n'Flash Ice Blue Pearl and silver

Adhesive: Liquid Nails Clear Small Projects Silicone Adhesive

Eyes: 5/16" Molded holographic eyes for hooks size 2 to 1/0

Windows Media Video  QuickTime Video 


New High Definition - 720p!

High Definition Windows Media File



Place the hook in the vise and lay down a solid base wrap.  With mono thread you want to ensure a good grip on the hook to keep the final fly from spinning on the shank.  Bring the thread back to a point about 2x the hook eye back in open spirals.
Tie in the Unique Hair.  Sparse is an important attribute!  The original fly used bucktail, I like the synthetic for its improved translucency and ability to shed water and keep the working weight of the fly down.
Tie in the clear pearl Flashabou.  There shouldn't be more than 20 strands on a size 2 fly.  Trim the Flashabou just a little bit longer than the Unique Hair.
Tie in the silver Flashabou.  Use the same about as you did on the clear pearl.  Trim this bunch just a little bit longer than the clear underneath.
Tie in a short, thick bunch of Wing'n'Flash Ice Blue Clear material to form the belly.
Tie in a second bunch of the Wing'n'Flash on the opposite side of the hook.
Tie in the same size bunch of silver Wing'n'Flash on top of the silver Flashabou.
Tie in the Palmer Chenille and start to wrap the head.  I like to have the head get progressively denser as it comes forward.

Here the basic structure of the fly is complete.

Using a Cool Gray 80% PermaMarker, color in the top of the head.

Using a toothpick, work the Liquid Nails clear adhesive into the material deeply. Don't rush, the Liquid Nails takes a full 24 hours to dry.

Place the eyes and put the fly aside to set.

You can create a school of baitfish in no time!


The YouTube video embedded below is a slightly truncated version of the full video offered for download.  To see the full 15 minute video, please select the standard definition or high-definition 720p files offered in the links above.  Please note, the HD version is a BIG file and download times may be considerable if you're on a slow Internet connection.  It's worth the wait!



Tight lines and improved-definition waters...

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