Step-by-step fly tying
You can call it fly tying made easy, step-by-step fly tying or "Here's how to tie a fly", it matters not. What matters is that since I started this website back in 2001 many fly fishermen have asked me to post a fly-tying section. Well, I finally got around to doing it and here it is. This is the first posting for my step-by-step fly-tying section. As my close-up photography and my layout skills improve, there will be changes to the format; what won't change is the clear and concise fly-tying instruction found within this section of my website.

Megan's Minnow or Ian's Epoxy Minnow
Megan's Minnow, or Ian's Epoxy Minnow, is my own creation. It was originally tied in 1999, using white wool for the body, but when Diamond Braid made it onto the market I made the change and that was
that. In the mid 1980s, Bob Bromby from Port Hope, Ontario, was one of the first fly tiers in Ontario to develop a "pulled-over" back and tail on his minnow patterns. He believed, as I do, that this technique is one of the simplest methods available to the fly tier for creating the illusion of a dark back and matching tail on a fly. If you take a look at a minnow, you should see that the belly and sides are usually lighter in colour than the top of the minnow. Biologically that colour difference makes perfect sense. Predators looking down at the top of the minnow can't find it as the dark back blends in with the river bottom. From below, if you are a predatory fish looking up, the white belly of the minnow blends in against the light colour of the sky.

Megans' Minnow Dressing:
Hook: Long-shank, like the Mustad 9671
Sizes: #6 to #14
Thread: White or whatever colour you have at hand
Body: Pearl coloured Diamond Braid
Tail: White rabbit fur topped with fox squirrel tail
Back: Fox squirrel tail
Eyes: Stick-on eyes in sizes #1.5 or #2
Coating: 5-min epoxy
(Note: This fly was tied on a Size #8, Mustad 9671 hook. The eyes are size #2 peel-and-stick.)

Tying Steps
1. Attach the thread to the hook shank.
2. Snip a tuft of the white rabbit fur from the pelt.
3. Place the fur on top of the hook shank with the tips sticking out over the bend of the hook.
4. Put a few soft wraps of thread around the fur and the hook shank.
5. Pull down on the thread and slowly let go of the fur. It should sit directly on top of the shank.
6. Put some more wraps of thread around the fur and the shank to lock the fur in place.
Tip: Thread is cheap, so don't feel bad about using lots of it.
7. Trim away the butt ends of the fur.
8. Wrap the thread to the eye of the hook.
9. Snip a small bunch of the hair from the squirrel tail.
10. Pull out the underfur from the butt ends (the snipped ends) of the hair.
11. Line up the tips of the hair. You can use a hair stacker if you have one handy.
12. Place the hair on top of the hook shank with the tips sticking out over the eye.
Tip: You need to eyeball it to judge how far out the tips have to stick out for the back and tail of the minnow.
13. Put two soft wraps of thread around the hair and the hook shank.
14. Slowly pull down on the thread and let go of the hair. It should now sit on top of the hook shank.
15. Put a few more wraps of thread around the butt ends of the hair and the shank.
16. Trim away the butt ends of the hair and wrap the thread back to the bend of the hook.
17. Cut a section of the Diamond Braid about 5 inches long.
18. Tie it in at the bend of the hook with the tag pointing toward the eye.
19. Lash down the tag end of the Diamond Braid to the shank.
20. Return the thread to the bend of the hook as shown above.
21. In touching turns, wrap the braid to the eye of the hook and then back to the tie in spot.
22. Put a few wraps of thread around the braid to secure it to the shank.
Tip: A coating of epoxy will magnify the body, so try and ensure that the turns of braid are nice and even. If you have a bunch of bumps and lumps in the body, the fish simply won't take your fly. When they see it they will say, "Good grief, Snoopy! That must have been tied by a rookie. I don't care if this is a catch-and-release section of the river. I am not going to take that! The inhumanity of it all." In other words, if you take the time to make the fly look good, you will have more confidence when you fish it. Got it? Good.
23. Snip away the tag end of the braid.
24. Pull over the squirrel tail and tie it down.
25. Whip finish and trim away the thread.
26. Remove the fly from the vise.
27. Peel a stick-on eye from its backing and apply it to one side of the fly.
Tip: Eyes are an important trigger for predatory fish. This pattern will work without eyes, but it is far more productive with eyes. You can of course cut one of the eyes in half to give a winking effect to the fly. It's easy to see that a predatory fish will get ticked off much faster if a winking minnow is drifted past it than, say, a non-winking minnow. You can just imagine the predator saying, "Wink at me, will ya" I'll give you winking. Come here ya little @!!#!!"
28. Peel another stick-on eye from its backing and apply it to the other side of the fly.
Tip: If you end up with two eyes on the same side of the fly, you may want to think about redoing steps #27 and #28.
29. With a toothpick apply a coating of 5-min epoxy to the body of the
fly. Leave the tail portion of the minnow epoxy-free.
30. Ta-da. Done. You have tied a Megan's Minnow.

This was one of the first flies in Canada specifically designed to use epoxy. I created it for fishing off the breakwalls along the edges of the Great Lakes for Steelhead, Brown Trout and Chinook Salmon. However, it did not take long to discover that it also worked on Smallmouth Bass and Northern Pike. For years this fly was known in the United States as the Ontario Epoxy Minnow, or Ian's Epoxy Minnow; however, in 2001, I officially named the fly Megan's Minnow after my fishing buddy Steve Norcross's daughter.

Some minnow patterns will use a tuft of marabou for the tail, but I find that a snippet of rabbit fur or a chunk of wool is far more durable than the marabou. When you are applying the epoxy to the fly, make sure to coat the thread wraps that hold down the back. Most epoxies will yellow over time. Keeping the finished flies, or the epoxy, in direct sunlight will speed up the yellowing process. One of the best brands of epoxy on the market is Devron 5-minute epoxy. It does the job, but I am open to suggestions, so if you know of a better brand .... let me know.

fishing Tips
The Megan's Minnow is a multi-species pattern. There is no great trick to fishing the pattern. Just cast it across the current, mend to get the fly down a wee bit in the water column and then vary the retrieve until you find the one that triggers a hit or two. I tend to fish it on a 15-foot level leader of 6-pound Vanish. Try to keep the fly swimming across the current. Very, very rarely will you find a minnow scooting straight upstream.

Epoxy is tricky to work with.
Before you try working with epoxy, pick up a few tips and pointers on how to use it properly.
Working with Epoxy