Muddulator FOM sept 2022 featured image 3

J. Stockard Pro Tyer: Paul Shurtleff, Springville UT, You can find Paul @:,

The idea for this pattern came from my love of 3 different classic fly patterns: The Muddler Minnow, Dave’s Hopper and the Stimulator. The Muddulator is a hybrid of all 3. It has the stimulator tail and body hackle over a substituted foam body rather than a yarn body that the Dave’s hopper has. The wing is 3 parts, much like a stimulator with a Dave’s Hopper styled turkey wing topper that keeps an air trap for the CDC under wing, which helps keeps the fly floating high, allowing the crystal flash to sparkle throughout. Then it has the Muddler minnow styled head with the deer hair collar to balance everything out.

The Muddulator is meant to be a dry fly and tied to represent hoppers and stoneflies mainly. It can easily be tied in different sizes and/or colors to better represent target “hatches” of natural insects.

Hook: Moonlit ML054 (or any 2 xl streamer/nymph hook… example: TMC 5262, Firehole 839, Ahrex FW561, Partridge G3A-LY, Daiichi 1710) #2-#12
Body hackle: Whiting dun grizzly saddle hackle (or color of choice)
Middle wing: CDC
Collar: Deer hair
Head: Deer hair
Cements/coatings: Flex Seal (Wapsi), Zap-a-Gap/superglue, Loon Outdoors Water Based Head Cement
Start the thread on the hook at approximately the 1/4 point the shank behind the hook eye. This gives proper proportions for the rest of the fly and enables enough room and a clean shank for the head.
Select a small clump of elk hair for the tail. Stack the elk hair to even up the tips and measure to length. Length should be approximately a hook gap past the hook bend. Cut the hair before you tie it in so the cut ends start at the start of the thread.
Continue making spiral wrap thread turns tying in the elk hair all the way to the hook bend. Try to keep the elk hair on top of the hook shank. Return the thread turns back to the start of the elk hair tie in and then back down to the hook bend.
Select a saddle hackle and tie it in at the tail. The hackle fiber length should be about the gap of the hook or slightly shorter.
Tie in a foam strip at the tail. I like to color one side of the foam strip to give segmentation when wrapped.
Wrap the foam in touching turns up to the start of the thread/elk hair tail and tie it off.
Wrap the hackle over the foam in spacing turns following the darkened foam segments up to the end of the foam and tie it off.
Select 2 to 3 strands of Krystal Flash, double them over twice, find the middle and position the strands under the thread as shown.
Tie in the Krystal Flash strands at the 1/4 point behind the hook eye. Trim the Krystal Flash to be slightly longer than the tail.
Select 2 CDC feathers and line up the tips. Measure so that they’re equal to the Krystal Flash.
Tie in the CDC wing.
Select a natural Cinnamon Tipped Turkey feather and treat it with Flex Seal to keep the fibers from splitting.
After the Flex Seal dries, select a slip of the turkey feather for the over wing. It should be roughly as wide as the hook gape. Holding the tip of the turkey slip, round out the butt ends. Tying the turkey slip in from the tip rather than the butt ends greatly reduces bulk at tie in and possible risk of the fibers splitting as well.
Tie in the turkey slip from the tip on top of the CDC creating an over wing.
Optional step: I’ve found that a drop of super glue on top of the thread wraps greatly improves durability…
Allow the glue to dry.
Select and stack a clump of deer hair for the collar. Measure the deer hair collar to be about 1/2 the hook shank or where it comes to roughly 1/2 the body length.
Trim the deer hair collar before tying it in. Tie it in right on top of the thread turns holding down the wings. Allow the collar to flair.
Prepare another clump of deer hair to spin for the head.
Spin the deer hair working the thread through.
Compress and pack the clump of spun deer hair to leave a space for the next clump.
Repeat the last steps by preparing a clump of deer hair to spin for the head.
Compress and pack the deer hair to expose the hook eye, whip finish and remove the thread.
Use a razor or scissors to trim the deer hair to form the head… I like to have it flat on the bottom, which is my first cut. Then bend the razor and push it up and over the head forming a Muddler style or 1/2 cone shaped head. Finish trimming the head with scissors on the sides to help shape and finish the head.
Finished Muddulator


  1. Paul, excellent step-by-step and excellent photos. And you present a lot of great tying tips here — I like how you achieve alternating “rib” coloration with thin foam without needing two foam strips of different colors, how you get the palmered hackle to stand at varying angles by using the overlapping foam as the body’s base, how your collar creates high-floating elk hair “hackle,” how you keep the tail on the surface by making it out of hollow elk as well, and especially how you form a really good wing from the turkey feather barbs that not only looks real but that should be durable in action. Lots of great techniques here that can be used on many kinds of flies.

    – Mike

  2. Looks like it should float for a while. Should work great for a dry dropper with heavier nymphs without sinking. When I’m fishing for browns with my 6wt I like to use larger bugs and the regular stimulator I tie struggles to keep a float. I tried tying extra deer hair for the wing and thought that would do but instead it tends to float on its side and I missed a lot of fish because the fly was too fat.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Mike! You could certainly try fishing it as an indicator suspending nymphs, however, this is a solo fly for me and I didn’t design it to be fished that way. I typically fish only this fly and 1 at a time… I fish it untreated (without floatant) with a short leader (about 6′), heavier tippet (1x or 2x) with fairly short controlled casts. I like to fish it casting “up and across” along undercut and/or grassy banks, making it smack the water on touchdown. Give it a couple of twitches right after it hits the water and “dead drift” it after then until it gets drag, pull it under water and then strip it back for the next cast… Much like fishing a streamer. Takes are typically within seconds of touchdown and oftentimes quite explosive! Give that a try!

  3. Beautiful looking Fly Paul and your photos are excellent….Sharp and detailed.
    I would certainly enjoy viewing a video tutorial if possible?

    1. Thanks Bill! I’ve considered doing a video for this pattern but haven’t done one yet… If/when I do, I’ll post it to my social media pages.

  4. Great fly pattern and excellent illustrations with your tying instructions. Should work well for trout and bass and panfish too!

  5. Great looking fly. Should be very productive. I like what you did with the two tone foam body. I have used that feature for many years. I thought that I invented that, but it must be more common than I thought. Looks like a fun pattern to tie.

    1. You can sub the spun deer hair head for a bullet head style deer hair head… It doesn’t float as well that way however. You could also tie in hackles like a stimulator, but I’d make them as dense as possible but again. I don’t think the fly would float as well. You could try to do something with foam to make a head as well, but I haven’t tried that yet.

  6. Thank you for sharing. This fly reminds me of one my father use to tie . It didn’t have the turkey feather on it. I live in western NC and it worked well in the Davidson river.

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