The Mangrove Muddler
Updated: Sep 5, 2020
A quick and dirty fly pattern introduction and one that most anglers probably have not heard of, Aaron Adams' Mangrove Muddler. Dr. Adams is a fisheries research biologist in Florida and a well known coastal angler and author of a number of books. This a fly I learned to tie from George Close who had picked it up from Aaron while George and his wife Betty were spending winters in the Fort Myers, Florida area as Wisconsin "snowbirds". What I love about the fly is it is simple pattern and it uses materials that are otherwise waste. The pattern was mentioned in Project Clouser, Part 1 - Materials as a way to use up the backs of all those bucktails.
The images below are a Mangrove Muddler tied by George Close that has been sitting above my tying bench for a decade or better. I probably should have given it a good steaming to perk it up a bit but in the spirit of a quick and dirty fly, some quick and dirty photos. The pattern and tying notes are below the images.
The Original Pattern from Fisherman's Coast (Aaron Adams)
Hook: Mustad 34011, size 4
Thread: Brown Danville flat waxed nylon
Underwing: Brown hair from the back side of a natural white bucktail
Overwing: Holographic gold flashabou, thin
Body: Gold body braid over brown bucktail butt ends
Collar: One bunch of brown bucktail from the back side of the butt end of a natural white bucktail
Head: One bunch of brown bucktail from the back side of the butt end of a natural white bucktail
Weed guard: Four inches of 15 lb mono, doubled in half, trimmed to length
Detailed instructions are at: http://www.fishermanscoast.com/flies/mangrove_muddler.html
It is a fly meant to be thrown into the mangroves for Red Drum (redfish) and Snook but with a few little modifications, it is a great Smallmouth Bass and trout fly in Wisconsin. The quick tying notes are to not overthink it or overdo it. It is a fly that is meant to be lost so tie it quickly. No presentation muddler heads on this fly - tie it so that the head will absorb some water. A little weight (bead, cone, or non-toxic wire) behind the head will help it sink a little more quickly.
Or play around with the idea and come up with your own fly. This is the lovechild of a Mangrove Muddler, the Murdich Minnow, and a Dahlberg Diver. These are quick and dirty divers. I'm not packing deer hair heads or futzing with worrying about the head getting cut perfectly. It is a quick and dirty fly, meant to be thrown into wood, under that impossible tree branch, or wherever else you are likely to lose a fly or two. I hate losing flies I spent a half hour on, this one takes 5 minutes and you will not mind losing it.
Quick, simple, uses up something you are probably otherwise throwing away, and it is really effective. While it is a saltwater fly, it works great in freshwaters too. I've caught both trout and bass on the fly. Give it a try!