The Muddler was developed by Don Gapen in Minnesota back in the late 1930's. By the early 1950's he was selling these flies & they inspired anglers all over. This pattern spawned many spun deer hair imitation patterns. In fact, it still inspires fly tiers today.
The fast popularity of this pattern is because it's so successful on just about all game fish. It can be used in both fresh & saltwater fishing. It can be used for steelhead & salmon fishing, too.
This is another one of those patterns that looks like something very specific & like nothing in particular, all at the same time. It can imitate sculpin, dace, leeches, & just about any other type of bait fish. When you start to use different color materials to tie this fly, the sky's the limit.
Personally I use the Muddler to catch trout, bass, crappie, & other panfish. But I fish the heck out of it at night in the summer. That's because that deer hair head cuts through the water & makes a lot of noise. The really big fish use sound to hunt their prey in the darkness of night.
It can be fished like a wet fly on a dead drift or swung through a good 'fishy' area of water, but it seems to be most effective when stripped like the streamer it is. It allows you to cover a lot of water & brings big fish out of hiding to take a bite.
Personally, some of the biggest fish I've ever been privileged to land - or the hardest strikes I've ever missed - have been with a Muddler tied on the end of my line. I can't say enough good things about them.
I only wish I was better at tying these flies. I need a lot more practice because at least half of my ties of this fly come out looking like a nightmare or a small clown car. So I'm inspired by this video below. I hope you'll be inspired too. It shows a really neat trick with a razor blade for trimming the head that I'm going to have to try.
So give the Muddler Minnow a go. I hope the video below helps both you & me get better at tying these awesome flies.