The Mickey Finn

The Mickey Finn

A classic streamer that still catches fish

  • By: A. K. Best
The first streamer fly I tied over 40 years ago was the Mickey Finn. I chose it because I thought it was a pretty fly and was an old and well-established classic pattern. The neat thing about many classic flies is that they work quite well on today's supposedly "educated" trout. Since we have some new materials to work with, we can make them more durable and a little easier to tie. These days I weight them and use woven gold Mylar tinsel for the body, but that's the only change I think needs to be made.
    Recipe:
  • Hook: Your favorite streamer hook. I prefer Mustad 79580 size 2-8.
  • Thread: Danville's black monocord
  • Tail: None
  • Weight: Lead-substitute wire. Diameter to equal hook shank diameter.
  • Body: Woven gold tinsel
  • Under wing: Bright yellow buck tail
  • Mid wing: Bright red buck tail
  • Over wing: Bright yellow buck tail
  • Throat: Optional red soft hackle fibers
  1. Attach lead-substitute wire over the hook point, wind forward to within three hook-eye spaces behind the eye and clip off the tag. Attach tying thread immediately in front of the lead wraps and wind back and forth two times, ending at the rear of the lead wraps. Apply a liberal amount of head lacquer to anchor the weight.
  2. Tie on one end of the woven gold tinsel immediately behind the lead wraps and lash down to the end of the shank.
  3. Carefully wind the woven tinsel forward, tie off immediately in front of the lead wraps, but lash down up to the rear of the eye before clipping off at an angle.
  4. The wing is the tricky part. The total mass of the wing should equal the diameter of a wood kitchen match; less for size 6 and 8 hooks. I try to aim for 50 percent on the bottom layer, 30 percent on the middle and 20 percent on the top layer of hair. This will prevent the top yellow layer from completely covering the middle red layer.
    1. Select a clump of straight yellow buck tail not quite the diameter of a wood kitchen match. Use the pinch-and-pull method to even the tips and tie on so that the tips extend beyond the hook bend by two hook-gap spaces. Lash down almost to the eye, lift the butts and clip off at an angle.
    2. Select a slightly smaller clump of straight red buck tail and repeat the above steps except do not lash down all the way to the hook eye. Stop and clip off at an angle so the front taper of the head is in line with the angle of the first clump.
    3. Select a slightly smaller clump of straight yellow buck tail and repeat step 4b.
  5. Carefully wind thread around the head to cover all the hair butts, apply a couple of layers of thick head lacquer and set aside to dry.