This article is a combination of two people giving
me their version of the "Glass Minnow". Don Coleman, long time and close friend
of Carl Hansen and Lefty Kreh.
Glass minnow is the name applied to the group of
small baitfish that includes anchovies, sardines, and silversides. They are typically
between 1-1/2 and 2-1/2 inches long and are important forage fish.
Carl's Glass Minnow is a natural, not only because
it imitates an important group of baitfish, but because it is easy to cast, durable,
simple and inexpensive to tie, and because it is semi-weed less when tied as a
bendback--it's final form. Carl has been given credit for developing the technique
of armoring the body of flies with monofilament. Carl would bend the hook (for
a bendback) and pinch down the barb before placing the hook in his old Thompson
vise. He did not approve of modern rotary vises.
He first wrapped a piece of ordinary aluminum foil
around the hook shank, leaving the short, bent section immediately behind the
hook eye bare. He always kept a small container filled with pieces of aluminum
foil measuring approximately 1/2" by 3/4" for the purpose. He then overwapped
the foil using the hook snelling technique. He always kept a tube filled with
20 inch pieces of straightened 15 or 20 pound clear monofilament ready for use.
After turning the hook point-up in the vise, he then attached the tying thread
behind the hook eye. He always used red thread--usually Fly Master Plus.
The wings of Carl's Glass Minnows were simple--a
sparse bunch of white bucktail under a sparse bunch .of colored bucktail (Carl
expressed a preference for green). The wing was approximately twice the over-all
length of the hook or less. He believed in stacking the bunches of bucktail using
a metal cigar tube (plastic is subject to static electricity). I don't believe
that Carl ever fully accepted the use of mylar flash materials in the wings of
his flies. After forming the head of the fly with tying thread, he coated the
head with his own mixture of thinned GOOP, or sometimes just fingernail polish.
The Glass Minnow is a rather simple but effective
buck tail minnow imitation used to represent the family of glass minnows found
in various areas. The body consists of a tinsel underbody over wrapped with a
clear body wrap material and a wing of buck tail. Carl Hansen is credited with
first using mono as a body wrap in the 1960's. Carl Hansen showed this to Vic
Dunaway who in turn showed it to Lefty Kreh. Up to this point, there was no underbody
on the fly except for a bare hook shank. Lefty suggested using tinsel for the
underbody to achieve more shine from the body. It was with this basic design that
Chico Fernandez, making his own adaptations, came up with his Glass Minnow.
More refinements have been made to this style of
tying a fly over the years. Mono, while still a very good body wrap, has largely
been replaced by such materials as v-rib or swannundaze. Silver tinsel is still
used as the primary under wrap with some very nice effects achieved either by
first under wrapping the hook shank with colored thread (generally the wing color)
and over wrapping this with pearl mylar tinsel or by under wrapping the body with
pearl mylar tinsel and over wrapping this with a dyed or tinted body wrap material.
The wing is buck tail tied in at the front of the
hook shank directly behind the eye of the hook. Other materials may be used for
the wing such as calf tail on smaller sizes; fish hair, ultra hair and super hair
are also good choices. Generally the wing is two color with a white under wing
topped with an appropriate color over wing. The color and size of this fly is
dictated by the color(s) of the minnows in the area(s) you will be fishing.
As you can see, there are some differences in the
two histories but the fact remains, that the "Glass Minnow" while an old, established
pattern is still a very effective pattern for use in the "Salt".
I tie the "Glass Minnow" in sizes from 2 to 2/0
and I use either black or white thread. In some instances, I put on red gills
with either a small tuff of red marabou tied as a throat or several small pieces
of red crystal flash. I also paint on eyes. These are black with a yellow pupil
or yellow with a black pupil.
The "Glass Minnow" can be used as a generic minnow
imitation by varying the wing color. Some of the better color combinations are:
all white, all black, all chartreuse, blue over white, gray over white, olive
over white, chartreuse over white, olive over tan, red over white and red over
yellow. Several of these color combinations are used as an attractor color and
not intended to imitate any minnow.
Use this pattern to imitate the minnows
in your area and see just how effective it is.
Use this pattern to imitate the minnows in your
area and see just how effective it is.