Fly Fishers' Republic

Muddled Perch

March 28, 2010

by Raif Killips

Muddled Daddy



This pattern was tied to fish for brown and rainbow trout in UK still waters, where over the last decade I’ve fished it with consistent success when targeting, funnily enough, trout feeding on young perch. Though this pattern may work for most species of fish that prey on baitfish, particularly perch, I haven’t actually tried it, preferring to opt for other go to patterns. Note: Variations for use in salt water should make use of stainless steel hooks. The fly illustrated is 3.5 inches long and a well chewed example from my fly box.

How to fish:

When fishing still water present the fly at the feeding depth and retrieve with a series of pulls. Depth may be anywhere in the water column from the bottom up. It’s worked for me presented on a fast sinker with a quick erratic retrieve, but equally I’ve had success presenting the pattern almost static just below the surface, animated only by an occasional tweak of the fly line. Those of you that have witnessed perch die offs on still waters having stocks of trout will be able to imagine the latter scenario only too well! Concentrate your efforts around structure like weed beds and boat moorings. From the shore you can fish across the weed line and between gaps in the weed beds. From a boat you can hold anchor and fish up and down the weed line, or set a drift and fish to the weed line. The anchored boat gives you more control over presentation while the drifting boat allows you to cover more fish – prevailing conditions will dictate which techniques to employ.

Tying instructions:

Toggle sequence Left/Right Handed ↔

Start the thread one hook eye length from the eye...

1. Start the thread one hook eye length from the eye. Wrap the thread very firmly in touching turns to cover the shank and the very start of the bend before bringing the thread forward two wraps.

2. Cut a small bundle of craft fur from the “hide” and remove the under-fur if it has any. Hold the bundle on the near side of the hook and take the thread over it and pull firmly down on the far side of the hook and then without releasing the fur from your grip make two further wraps of thread over the tying in point.

3. Slide your grip back a little and make four or five more firm wraps forward of the initial wraps. If you’ve made sufficiently firm wraps of thread the fur wing should have rolled up onto the top of the hook and there it will remain.

4. If you want to add flash tie in just a few strands of pearl Mylar. This should be on top of the white fur and no longer than it. Now add a couple drops of head cement to the thread wraps.

5. Using further tight wraps of thread tie in a bunch of olive fur on top of the white. By now you will have noticed a theme… tying with tight thread wraps. Adding cement between stages is the other theme to building a durable fly.

6. Make tapering cuts to remove the butts of fur. This reduces the bulk…

7. …and allows you to produce a smooth and gently tapered thread base onto which you will tie the deer hair head.

8. Take a sparse bunch of yak hair and work it under the shank to form a beard equally divided either side of the hook bend.

9. Tie the yak hair in place with six or seven wraps using as much tension as the thread will stand.

10. Remove the waste yak hair with a tapering cut and add a couple drops of head cement to the uncovered butts of yak and polar hair. Tie down the butts and form a smooth tapered thread base. When the hair is fully tied in, return the thread to a point one wrap shy of the rear of the thread base.

11. Take a bunch of prepared deer hair and offer it up to the near side of the hook, parallel to the shank and tips pointing to the rear extending one hook length beyond the bend. Take a couple loose wraps around the hair before pulling the thread firmly down at the far side of the hook. It may take a bit of practice and more hair to form the collar properly.

12. Spin further bundles of hair until the hook if covered all the way to the eye. Add a drop of head cement to the locking wraps of thread between each addition of hair. Don’t compact the hair much unless you want the pattern to have high buoyancy. Make a whip finish and add head cement.

13. Trim the deer hair to form a head. Start by making a flat cut with a razor blade forming the underside of the head – the cut should be reasonably close to the shank. Use scissors or a blade to finish the head.

14. With the fly still in the vice it’s time to add colour and markings. Start with the olive marker along the back, holding the hair in tension by its tips. After applying the olive marker work the fur a little between your finger and thumb to blend the colour.

15. With the fur held in tension once again, mark it with the brown marker along the juncture between the olive and white fur at both sides. Blend this a little before adding the stripes. Mark the top half of the head with the olive and brown marker pens. Mark the tips of the fur with orange.

16. When you’ve finished with the marker pens, cut away an eye socket each side of the head.

17. Apply a small blob of epoxy in each socket and press in the eyes.

18. The finished fly should look something like this.


First tied in 2000, generally this pattern has roots in saltwater and warmwater fly-tying where deer hair heads and hair wings are common features. At the time of first tying the Muddled Perch I was looking specifically at the saltwater patterns of Doug Swisher and Carl Richards.


In the main this pattern should be adapted to cover different baitfish species through simple changes of colour. I originally tied the Muddled Perch with polar bear hair purchased from Canadian fly shops. Subsequently I've found synthetic 'polar hair', also called craft fur, equally effective - which is handy! The head can be packed more or less to achieve different levels of buoyancy. The example illustrated in the main picture originally had sufficient buoyancy to hold off the bottom or to allow it to slowly rise in the water when fished with a sinking line. In its current state, "Well chewed!", the fly hangs in the water allowing it to be fished at any speed or depth without hanging up. I use home made or Spirit River eyes, but other brand products will do. The beard, orange dyed yak hair YH271 from Hairline Dubbin, Inc., is there for the dual purpose of helping prevent tail wrapping and to give the subtle impression of the orange fins of the perch. Other materials might be serviceable but yak is my preference. The deer hair collar, which is relatively sparse, also helps prevent tail wrapping. †The pearl mylar is optional and in my opinion best kept subtle by using only a few strands tied within the wing. In the step-by-step I haven't used any, but in the main photo the fly has strands from a hank of Barr Brothers Damsel & Pearl Flash Attack. Taken from a hank the Mylar is nice and straight - I don't like it curved and I don't like trying to straighten it off a spool.

Further reading:

Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing, 1995, Joseph D Bates,Jr., Stackpole Books, ISBN 0-8117-1702-X.

Streamers and Bucktails, the Big-Fish Flies, 1980, Joseph D Bates, Jr., Random House Inc., ISBN 0394415884.

Backcountry Fly Fishing in Salt Water, 1995, Doug Swisher, Carl Richards, Lyons & Burford, ISBN 1-55821-328-7.