Old Man’s Earplug Daddy Muddler by Brian Ratcliff

Earplug Daddy Muddler by Brian Ratcliff-01

There are so many new and exciting flies to try, and many of them you discover in the most unexpected way. That is especially true if we as fly fishers and fly tiers are open to new ideas and think outside the (fly)box.

One of the innovative and very creative fly tiers out there is our friend Brian Ratcliff from England. Among all the flies he’s sent us, especially one pattern caught our attention a little bit more than the rest and we were curious how Brian fishes this fly and how it came about.


Brian Ratcliff heading out to fish searun browns in the nighttime.
Photo: Lynn Ratcliff

Brian told us that he was tying some Daddy Muddlers for an upcoming trip. The fly is finished with a muddler head, and when it came to tying it in, he had a little too little deer hair. That left a short bit of empty shank, and instead of more deer hair, rescue came in the shape of a little foam.

Brian cut a foam cylinder of suitable size to the appropriate length. With a heated needle he made a hole in the foam, put a little super glue on the hook and pressed on the foam cylinder. He cut the foam in shape and trimmed the deer hair behind it to make a form a collar.

Brian had chosen a light brown foam, and the fly was then named Old Man’s Earplug Daddy Muddler (try saying that fast, ten times) by his good friend Marcin Odachowski, since the fly looked a little like an earplug.

Earplug Daddy Muddler by Brian Ratcliff-07

The fly is well suited for many types of fishing and can be fished in a number of ways, both in still and running water. Dead drift with a twitch every now and then, as an indicator over small nymphs or on a sinking line booby style. Brian has used it with great succes in larger sizes when night fishing for sea trout, where the fly pulls striped in the surface.

Earplug Daddy Muddler by Brian Ratcliff-03

OMEPDM by Brian Ratcliff
Hook: Ahrex FW570/571 stl 6-12
Thread: Brown 8/0 and GSP.
Body: Flat silver tinsel.
Rib: Oval silver tinsel.
Legs: Knotted pheasant tail.
Hackle/collar: Deer hair.
Head: Foam cylinger.

Earplug Daddy Muddler-01

Start the thread and tie on oval tinsel as you wind towards the bend.

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Tie in flat tinsel in the middle of the shank.

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Håkan likes a silver body on his flies. If you choose this, rap the flat tinsel back to the hook bend and forwards again to where you tied it in. Cut off the waste. Brian himself prefers a dubbed body as can be seen in the photos of his originals.

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Wrap the rib and cut off waste.

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Tie in three pheasant tails on each side of the hook.

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Cut  bunch of deer hair and spin it around the hook, muddler style. Make sure to leave enough room for the foam cylinder. Whipfinish the thread and cut off.

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Choose a foam cylinder in the appropriate size and colour. Heat a needle and pierce a hole through the cylinder.

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Apply a little super glue to the hook shank.

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Press on the foam an allow it to dry for a little while. Round off the foam towards the hook eye and trim the deer hair as a collar behind the foam.

Earplug Daddy Muddler by Brian Ratcliff-02a


Brian trying to fool a big trout in shallow water. Photo: Lynn Ratcliff.

You can see more on Bri’s work on Facebook or Instagram.