Friday, January 8, 2016

The Whittingham Minnow

   As mentioned before in numerous posts, I'd classify my fly tying as freestyle. Not quite randomly attaching materials to a hook without any thought to form and function, but also not closely following the "set in stone" guidelines to traditional patterns. Don't misunderstand my attitude as I have a great appreciation for well crafted flies, particularly traditional salmon flies, but I lack the necessary patience, attention to details and most important, motivation to tackle the complexities of advanced tying. I recently declined offers from a couple local shop owners to supply them with a few patterns. Personal experience has taught me that the best way to destroy my enjoyment of a hobby is to turn it into a business.

   The other day I fired up my old laptop for the first time in ages, and was surprised to find an old folder I'd overlooked when transferring files to the new machine. The folder was created more than a decade ago when I was desperate for any info on fly tying and contained over 250 patterns scanned from a stack of magazines. So...I spent the next hour reminiscing, reviewing some of the things I'd tried before, wondering why I bothered to save other things, and finding a few things different enough to catch my attention again.

   One such attention getter was The Whittingham Minnow,  published in The Canadian Fly Fisher magazine by Ian Colin James. The recipe called for plastic eyes to be tied on the underside of the hook shank, just behind the eye and an ultra thin profile to the body of pearl Diamond Braid and black bucktail. In typical freestyle fashion, I've switched out the plastic eyes in favor of weighted dumbells tied farther back on the shank to allow for a more balanced descent. I also experimented with different, contrasting colors and, in a few cases, replaced the Diamond Braid with trimmed cactus chenille.


 Hook: #6 to #10 long-shank
 Thread: 6/0 black
 Eyes:  medium sized dumbell
 Under Body: Piping filling
 Body: Diamond Braid (DB)
 Back/Tail: bucktail

1.  Place hook in the vise point up and start a thread base approximately one third of the length of the shank.

2.  Tie in dumbell eyes using figure 8 wraps and apply a small amount of head cement to lock it in place. Remove hook from vise and return it point down.

3.  Tie in piping filling behind eyes and lash it to hook shank, tapered to end half way between the point and the bend. I've used this material to fill out the body but you can use whatever you have on hand eg: thread, wool etc,. Skip this step if using cactus chenille

4. Return thread to front of eyes and tie in  DB. Select a small bunch (30-40 hairs) of bucktail and tie in using 20 tight wraps of thread just behind hook eye with the tips facing forward. Apply a small drop of head cement to thread wraps. Wind thread to rear of hook.

5.  Wind DB forward and then back to build a tapered body at both ends. Tie off and clip.

6.  Firmly grasp bucktail and pull back along body. Tie down at back of body with 10 tight wraps and whip finish. Apply head cement to finish.

   Immediately after the first try, I adapted the pattern for vertical jigging through the ice.

  To wrap up this post I offer another blast from the past.


  1. Nice streamer. I know a place where a few crappies would molest the hell out of it.
    Like that molasses ad.

  2. Thanks for the feedback Alan. In the places I fish prespawn crappie "buggy" works better than "baitfishy"