Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Menominee Mud Bug

Nelson Ham's Menominee Mud Bug
Hook:  90 Degree Jig Hook
Thread:  6/0 Uni
Tail:  Rabbit Zonker (Rear Portion Slit For Added Action)
Body:  Dubbing Brush
Legs:  Sili-Legs
Flash:  Fine Krystal Flash
Head:  Non-Toxic Painted Jig Head (Tin Instead of Lead)
Eyes:  Paint

I visited the Tight Lines Fly Fishing Company in DePere, Wisconsin yesterday and picked up a few Menominee Mud Bugs tied by Nelson Ham.  This is a great pattern for a ton of reasons, but I like it because the head is cast tin rather than lead.  When I read about the tin head I immediately thought the creator must be in touch with water quality and the impacts of is something that always bugged me about the use of lead shot and dumbbell eyes.

I have a degree in Water Quality from the University of Minnesota and have always had a real interest in water ways and living systems.  To make things worst my wife is a hydrologist, so you could imagine our nerd-like happiness to see tin used in place of lead on this dredger.  Turns out the creator of this patterns has an interest in water as well!

Nelson Ham - Mr. Mud Bug
Nelson Ham has lived and fished in Wisconsin for more than 20 years, spending his summers as a fly fishing guide with Tight Lines Fly Fishing Company. Nelson's profession is as a geologist who teaches hydrology, earth-surface processes, and environmental science at a St. Norberts College in northeast Wisconsin.  During the summer he is a driftboat guide, fishing for river smallmouth bass on the Menominee, Oconto, and Peshtigo Rivers.

Here is one of Nelson's articles titled Achigan published in the Summer 2006 issue of Fly and Fish Magazine.30-41-achigan_f

Slit in the tail

We were amazed of the cast-ability of the Menominee Mud Bug, it is a dream to cast compared to weight forward patterns using lead.  This fly is all about details....the action is outstanding because of the slit in the tail section of the fly (see right).  The forked tail enables the tail section to dance nicely.  The texture and flash is also very cool, Nelson has achieved the perfect balance of flash and movement making this one of my favorites of the 2012 season.

Small World
One last coincidence about this pattern....  In January 2011 I participated in a smallmouth fly swap on the Fiberglass Flyrodders site.  I got a box of flies a few weeks later and saw a neat little jig-type fly in the bunch.  I put the box of flies on the shelf and forgot about them.  A year and a half later I saw the Mud Bug at Tight Lines it looked strangely familiar.  On the way home from Green Bay I remembered where I saw it!  Once I got home I found the box and sure enough....there was a Menominee Mud Bug right in my collection! 

How I Fish the Mud Bug
I fish the Mud Bug under a strike indicator, so I can hop it off or near the bottom.  I took it out this morning and had a blast!  The tin headed jigs make this one hard to replicate one-for-one, but if you have a buddy that casts lead maybe you can get them to throw in some tin.  You never know....the Smallmouth Fly Box may be putting up a bunch soon!

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