Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman, Montana

The Myakka River flows approximately 72 miles southwest from the prairies of Central Florida to Charlotte Harbor on the Florida Gulf Coast. By all accounts this National Wild and Scenic River provides some pretty good fishing for bass and other warm water species in its freshwater sections and excellent Snook fishing in the lower estuarial waters. The Myakka is within easy reach to Sarasota anglers and one of the favorite freshwater destinations for Sarasota guide Steve Gibson. Steve tells the story of the genesis of his Myakka Minnow after a frustrating day on the Myakka in 2005.

“The Mighty Myakka Minnow was born out of frustration. I’m sure you’ve been there. Imagine a day on the water with fish busting minnows throughout the morning. But after several hours, you still have nothing to show for your efforts. You cast into the spray of minnows, but your offerings are ignored repeatedly. The fish are so keyed into the tiny minnows that they ignore everything else. Although the scenery is nice and weather gorgeous, it sure would be nice to feel the tug of a largemouth bass or hand-sized bluegill. This happened to me several times while fly fishing on the Myakka River near my home in Sarasota, Fla.  After one unproductive outing, I decided to try and come up with a fly which would imitate the minnows the fish were so excited about. I knew that the fly had to be no more than an inch long. It had to look like a minnow. It had to sink. It had to have large eyes. After a few hours of trial and tribulation, I came up with a workable prototype and couldn’t wait to give it a try. Next time out to the river, I had several Myakka Minnows in my box and one tied on my 4-weight fly rod. It didn’t take long to realize that I’d hit a home run. I picked up bass, bluegill, stumpknocker and tilapia while blind-casting. I kept my eyes open for scattering minnows. When I saw fish attacking minnows, I’d cast the Myakka Minnow into the fray.”

Since the creation of the Myakka Minnow, the design has been adapted to all manner of freshwater and saltwater species with great success.  More importantly, it is a incredibly simple fly to tie. The original pattern is still viable today.

Hook:  #10 Nymph Hook
Thread:  .004 or .008 Clear Mono
Weight: .015 or .020 lead (lead free) wire
Body: 1/8” or 1/16” braid
Eyes: Stick on eyes slightly larger than diameter of body
Coating:  UV Cured Resin (original design used epoxy)

Freshwater versions

In his YouTube video describing the fly, Steve freely admits that the style is open to all manner of variation depending on the whims of the tier.  Since I was heading to the Florida Gulf coast in early December, I thought I’d give the Myakka Minnow a tie (try). Thus the Myakka two ways.

When I first sat down to tie a Myakka Minnow, I found that I didn’t have any suitable braid in my hoard of fly tying materials. To compensate, I decided to substitute Polar Flash for the body. With braid, you build the body by wrapping several layers of braid to form the minnow shape. That wasn’t possible with the Polar Flash, so I used UTC 210 thread to build a tapered underbody and overwrapped it with Polar Flash. Otherwise, the two methods are the same.  Polar Flash or braid both create a Myakka Minnow true to Gibson’s original style. Once I had a few different colors of Hareline’s Flat Diamond Braid in hand, tying the braided version proved to be the simplest of the two methods. That said, the Polar Flash allowed me to create a more variegated look for the body. Whereas the braided version creates a more uniform body color, the Polar Flash colors can be mixed to create just about any variegated color you can imagine.

Saltwater versions

On the eye front, I found that both flat stick-on and thicker domed type eyes worked equally well. The domed eyes create a wider head or fatter minnow. I tied several dozen Myakka Minnows in short order as they are indeed a simple fly to tie.  Freshwater versions were tied on Firehole Sticks #860 and #718 barbless hooks. I tied a few versions on different saltwater hooks as well in anticipation of our Florida trip later this year.

A Simple Fly, easy to tie and adaptable to just about any type of fresh or saltwater fish that eats minnows. Give it a try.

2 Comments

  1. Some very interesting variations of Steve’s Myakka Minnow. I have known Steve for 20 some years and have always used his MMinnow when fishing our local waters. I lived in Bozeman from 1978-1995 and guided mostly Madison, Gallatin and Yellowstone. :))
    If you are back in Bradenton area give me a call.

    1. Mike,
      Thanks, I’ll be down that way in late Nov/early Dec this year. Will try to connect. The Myakka Minnow was a killer pattern this spring for me on sea trout at De Soto. Great pattern.,

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