Thursday, January 14, 2021

Tying Tutorial: One More Balanced Minnow

What happens when you mash up a balanced minnow with a Myakka Minnow and a Surf Candy? Well...this. A few years ago, I played around with a similar version of this pattern that was more or less unweighted. The fly caught some fish, but I didn't fish the fly as much as some of the balanced patterns I had in my boxes. Finally, curiosity got the better of me and I did a balanced version of the fly. The clear, heavy inspiration for this pattern is a Surf Candy, a popular and highly durable/effective saltwater pattern. Another is Steve Gibson's Myakka Minnow, a popular panfish and bass fly in Florida. The end result is a very durable, very flashy small minnow pattern with the added attraction of an internal glass rattle.


-Hook: Hanak 400 size 8
-Thread: 6/0 (color of your choice, it won't be visible) and mono thread
-Weed Guard (optional): 25lb mono
-Weight: 3.5mm tungsten bead on a sewing pin
-Belly: Ripple Ice Fiber
-Rattle: 3mm glass rattle
-Back: Ripple Ice Fiber
-Eyes: 3D or flat eyes of your choice
-Finish: thick UV resin of your choice

1) I begin with the weed guard, which is optional. I fish these patterns for crappies, mostly, and like to be able to drag and drop them into brush and cover. This guard is by no means 100% effective, but I rarely snag and lose them. Tie the short piece of 25lb mono to the inside of the hook with the 6/0 thread, the side facing the point, and wrap thread right up to the hook eye. Adding a few wraps between the mono and the eye seems to help hold it in place. Trim the mono so the tip of it narrowly misses the hook point when pressed down.

2) Next, put the tungsten bead on the pin and tie that onto the back of the hook shank, also with the 6/0 thread. I use the non-mono thread for this portion because there's less thread bulk. The pin should extend past the bend in the jig hook roughly two beads in length. Now switch over to the mono thread.

3) Grab a clump of Ripple Ice you wish to use for the belly, based on the color combo you chose for the fly. In this case, I am using Silver Holographic. Tie the clump in near the pointy end of the pin and wrap forward to the front of the pin with open wraps. The fibers should extend well forward of the pin. Tying the belly material in before the rattle gives the rattle a better, more stable, place to "sit."


4) Place the 3mm glass rattle on top of the Ripple Ice and secure with mono thread wraps. Use tight wraps and be sure to keep the rattle centered on the hook. If the rattle has a pointy end, it sits nicely up against the bead.

5) Grab another clump of Ripple Ice Fiber in your "back" color, typically a darker contrasting color. Here, I am using Bronze Peacock. Tie it down on the inside of the hook, also extending forward of the bead/pin. The tricky part is working around the weed guard and hook eye. I like to spread the Ripple Ice into two clumps and pull them around the guard and hook eye, then tie them down. Continue to monitor the position of the rattle, because it can try to shift on you as you add materials.

6) Pull the belly color of Ripple Ice rearward, tenting it over the rattle evenly, and secure it with a loose wrap or two. This is your chance to manipulate the Ripple Ice and spread it evenly over the rattle before tying it down securely. Once you are satisfied with the distribution of the flash, tie it down securely.

7) Repeat the process with the back color of Ripple Ice. Again, I like to spread it into two clumps and pull it around the guard and hook eye. Lightly secure with a wrap or two, check the distribution over the top of the fly, then tightly secure it. At this point, you can whip finish and cut the mono thread. 

8) Tack the eyes in place with CA gel (super) glue. In this case, I used 4mm size 3D eyes in a hot orange color. On this size fly, the 4mm eyes position nicely below the hook eye.

9) Once the eyes are set, coat the fly from the thread wraps to the front of the pin in the thick UV resin of your choice. Spread the resin evenly and be sure to cover all sides. Cure the resin thoroughly. When possible, I even sit mine outside in direct sunlight for a few minutes just to be sure the resin is cured. If you wish, you can also top-coat with Sally Hansen's Hard as Nails or a product like Hard as Hull. Trim the Ripple Ice to your desired length. I tend to angle the cut to trim the belly fibers slightly shorter.

This fly, with its streamlined shape and design, gets down quickly considering the relatively light weight. Color combinations abound with Ripple Ice Fiber. If you balance test the fly out of the water, hanging from mono, it will sit slightly tail-down. However, in the water it hangs horizontally, and that's where it matters. During cold months, fishing a balanced minnow under an indicator is deadly on crappies. The fly can be cast to structure or holding areas and simply dead-sticked, hanging in front of the fish's face. This pattern pairs nicely with the small size DriftRite indicator.