This fly is a nymph that you can cast like a streamer, and even troll with. A friend of mine trolls this fly slowly on a sinking fly line a few weeks after ice out on a pond in the North Maine Woods and experiences full body slams by 2-3 pound brook trout. This nymph was originated by the late Ed Reif of Bangor. The first time I heard Ed talk about it was in his shop over 25 years ago. He convinced me to buy the materials to make it and try it. Trying to tie a spun deer hair fly intimidated me in those days, so I didn’t attempt it until a few years ago. It turned out to be easier to tie than it looks. Like most good flies, I think this fly imitates more than one food source. It definitely is a nymph but like all muddlers, it has swept back deer body hair “legs” and a big spun deer hair head. When it is trolled slowly, these body parts move water, attracting predator fish. Big ones.
Recipe for Eddie’s Dragonfly Muddler Nymph
Thread – Olive 6/0
Hook – Size 4-8 streamer, 4X long
Tail – Olive marabou, short
Body – Olive mohair, chenille or wool yarn
Wing – 2 wide feathers from a hen neck, grizzly dyed olive
Head – Muddler style spun deer hair dyed olive
Start your thread on a streamer hook. The fly works well weighted or un-weighted, depending on your style. Add weight if you like. For the tail you can use marabou. Ed personally told me that he used the marabou like fluff from the base of the hackle feathers used for the wing. These are grizzly hen neck feathers dyed olive. I tear off some of the fluff and tie it on as an ovipositor (egg laying organ). I then use olive mohair for the body. Stop winding the body about a third of the hook shank back from the eye. This is where you’ll leave room for the muddler style head. On top of the wound body, tie on two olive grizzly hen feathers. They should lay flat on top of the shank and extend to the tail. Hen feathers have rounded tips and are a bit wider than rooster saddle; they work best on this nymph.
Last is the spun deer hair head. Use dyed olive deer body hair. The first bunch provides the 20 or so deer hair tips that sweep back to form the nymph legs. From there to the eye, you can tie on two more short bunches of deer body hair and spin a muddler style head. Clip the head short on the top and bottom, squaring it off, on the sides. Put some head cement or super glue in the hairs of the head and use your finger and thumb to squish the top and bottom of the head to form a flat dragonfly like head.
That’s it! Spinning deer hair is rarely successful the first time you try it. Be persistent and take the time to tie up several of the nymphs and you’ll get the hang of it. Fish this fly in the spring; you’ll be glad you did.