Here’s a video of friend and tyer Ken Misiura tying a Gartside Magic Minnow. The Magic Minnow is about as simple a fly as you can get, consisting of a single feather wound around the hook and a little flash. It’s intended to imitate a newly hatched baitfish.
Ken ties his version with a body of dubbed GSS, which is certainly appropriate although I don’t recall Jack himself every tying it that way. His own recipe for the pattern (which varied slightly over the years) called for no body and instead several (2-4) strands of Flashabou or similar tied in for flash. Either way it’s a dynamite juvenile bait fish imitation, particularly in fresh water.
Tying Notes and Other Errata
The pattern appears originally in the first edition of Jack’s Fly Patterns for the Adventurous Tyer, dated 1993. In that edition the tying notes call for a wing of natural or dyed mallard flank and advise: “For a sleek bait fish look, leave a bit of space between windings. For a more open, breathing effect, make your winds a bit close to each other.”
In the 2005 edition, the tying notes are expanded. In addition to mallard flank Jack now suggests alternatives of other barred or mottled feathers for the wing including teal flank, pheasant, woodcock, and wood duck. Tying notes for the wing include the advice: “As you wind the feather around the shank and forward, twist and fold the hackle fibers to the rear, always being sure to wind on the flat side of the stem and not the edges to avoid a willy-nilly spiderlike effect with the hackle points going every which way.” Ken does a great job of emphasizing this in the video.