Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Fly Tying Tutorial: Craft Fur Minnow

Streamers have accounted for 80% or more of my tying for many years, and somehow I missed the boat on craft fur.  I finally picked up some Hareline Extra Select Craft Fur and have been really impressed with how easy the material is to work with.  The step-by-step below is a ridiculously simple craft fur minnow pattern.  It's nothing too new or original, but it's a fast tie that looks great both in and out of the water.  Here's the recipe:

Hook - Gamakatsu B10S
Thread - 6/0
Flash - Ripple Ice Fiber
Body - Diamond Braid
Wing - Extra Select Craft Fur
Head - Fish Mask

For this tutorial, I am using a Gamakatsu B10S in a size 1.  This is the largest hook size I have tied this pattern on, as it's a good match for the max length of the material.  Get your hook in the vise and start your thread.  I leave the thread at about the halfway point to start the flash.

Tie in a sparse flashy tail of Ripple Ice Fiber.  I start it at this point on the hook because the RIF is not exceptionally long, and I like the flash to extend past the length of the craft fur on the finished fly.

This step is probably unnecessary, but it's easy and, at minimum, it will serve to protect the thread on the hook shank.  Wrap over the shank with Diamond Braid up to about an eye length behind the hook eye.  

The craft fur will be tied in two clumps, a light color for the bottom (white) and a darker color for the top (chartreuse).  You'll need the full length of the fur, so trim as close to the backing material as you can.  It will take a generous clump on top and bottom.  Be sure to use a comb or brush and remove the thick "underfur" at the base of the material.  It's bulk and short fibers you do not need.

Tie in the white clump of craft fur on the underside of the hook, tips facing forward, and trim the butts closely.  

Repeat the cleaning procedure on a clump of chartreuse craft fur and tie that in on the top of the hook shank.  Again, trim the butts closely.

Carefully whip finish, add some half hitches, or cement your thread wraps and cut your thread.  Basically, at this stage, the tying is completed.  Using (preferably) an empty pen or pencil tube, or your fingers, push the craft fur back over the hook.  I like to use a small hair clip to hold the material in place.

Although it is not necessary, I like to add a little barring to the pattern with Sharpies.  You can do as little or as much as you'd like.  Barring, gills, hot spots, that's all up to you.  I like to have my first bar under the Fish Mask, so I add it now before fitting the Mask onto the fly.

Fitting the Fish Mask to the fly is another matter of preference.  My old "stand by" is to use gel CA superglue.  I have also experimented with Rich Strolis' method of using UV cure adhesive smeared on the inside of the Mask, then cured with a UV torch.  Either way will work.  Add some thread wraps in front of the Mask to help hold it in place.

I now add some additional barring to the back of the fly, and add the eyes to the Mask.  This is a 6mm Fish Mask, so 6mm 3D eyes fit them perfectly.  I attach the eyes using gel CA superglue.  And that's a wrap, a completed craft fur minnow.

This pattern can be made smaller by simply using shorter lengths of craft fur and smaller hooks.  So far, I have only tied the pattern in two sizes, size 1 and 6.  On the size 6 version, a 4mm Fish Mask is the perfect size to top the fly.  Other craft fur minnows I have seen use UV cure products to hold the craft fur back and form the head.  Me, I'm a fan of the Fish Masks and love their ease of use and consistency on this fly pattern.  It's a perfect head every time, fast.  Give this one a shot! 


  1. Love this. I love craft fur - Lefty's craft fur shrimp is an epic, simple, super effective fly in salt or fresh water and it really got me excited about the material. The simplicity of your SBS and the fly itself is great. Need to try a few!

    1. It's fast and easy to crank out a good assortment. Let me know if you have any luck with them!