Behind the Fly

Behind The Fly - RIO's Brammer Finger Mullet

Gunnar Brammer February 22, 2023

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a Fly Tyer who craves the unknown and embraces simplicity. I’ve dedicated nearly half of my life (soon to be the greater of the two portions), to the pursuit of fly tying—specifically, streamers. My tying origins lay in the styles of Kelly Galloup, Russ Maddin, and Rich Strolis. As time passed my love for Esox would drive me to seek inspiration from Scandinavian tiers such as Niklaus Bauer, Daniel Holm, and Ulf Hagstrom. As curiosity got the best of me, I gravitated towards the coast and striper flies by Bob Popovics and Mark Sedotti. Presently, I am an odd mix of all the above, based in fish-scapes of “The Northland,” (MN, WI, MI), chasing native fish that inhabit some of the best warmwater rivers in the world. Every season I find myself in search of something new. New flies, new water, new techniques. When I know what works, when I know where the fish are, I move onwards to search for the unknown.

Finger Mullet Lemon Head

Where did you find your inspiration for the Finger Mullet?

The original version of this fly was dubbed “The Slow Jig Clouser,” and although the two share no resemblance, the Clouser is the foundation of this fly. The Clouser’s beauty lies in its simplicity. Tied with nothing more than bucktail, sparse flash, and dumbbell eyes, this low-profile baitfish darts and swims with irresistible “fleeing,” action.

I strive to have distinguishable silhouettes between flies of similar length. Baitfish come in an infinite range of colors, however the necessity to survive natural selection has forced them into only a handful of silhouettes, immediately identifying them as food to predators.

The Finger Mullet is my take on the Clouser Minnow but designed around a blunt head/fusiform silhouette. Due to the round symmetrical nature of the silhouette and bulbous head, the stabilizer wing is dropped, and lead eyes are moved to the bottom side of the hook to create a keeled down orientation.

Finger Mullet Fire

The fly borrows from Rich Strolis’ “Chinese Dragon,” with the combining of dubbing brushes to create the body of the fly. The brushes allow hair and flash to be applied in a 360-degree fashion filling up the body providing a perfect fusiform shape with a nice blend of color saturation and flash.

The fly is finished with a nearly forgotten material which had been on the market, dormant for nearly 18years, Hedron’s Strung Fuzzy Fiber. The fiber was curly, long, with a wavy crimp that almost acted like wool. I immediately thought back to Nick Granato’s “Sasquatch,” a fly that features a Craft Fur head applied in a dubbing loop, and I set forth attempting to recreate just that with this new….old material.

My first attempts involving Strung Fuzzy Fiber resulted in the development of the Seasoned Geezer (another Rio Signature Fly Pattern), and the head design has become a staple in a handful of my patterns. The heads are bulbous and retain their profile in water which results in pushing water to animate the fly. This style carries no water weight, balance well with lighter weight lead eyes which makes them easy to cast and the perfect fly to pair with a floating line.

Tannic Finger Mullet

 What’s been a memorable experience fishing this fly?

In 2018, I was in the jungles of Brazil with Nomadic Waters Expeditions. We were traveling on a houseboat pushing up one of the Amazon’s mighty tributaries. The buzzing of the motor groaned through the quiet of the night. At sunrise, the jungle began to show its life with sounds of toucans, kingfishers, and howler monkeys all replying with their own songs. The anticipation grew with the morning and my eagerness was evident.

We turned into a channel that led to a hidden lake. The channel supplied a fish highway with a continuous commute of new targets we harassed with flies for the first two hours of daylight. The bite inevitably died down and the afternoon fish were hard won.

After a break, we began our evening fishing program with far more willing participants. We found our success with finger sized deceivers. When looking through my box, I focused on my lineup of Finger Mullets, as a grin swept across my face. I lengthened my leader immediately to fully utilize the dropping motion from the lead eyes and finished tying on with a loop knot. I targeted the banks, let the fly drop down into submerged trees, buried my rod tip in the water, and began twitching it back to the boat. We saw never ending action that night and ended the day with a ridiculous fish count. The Finger Mullet hasn’t left my box since.

Paca on Finger Mullet

Favorite water to use this fly?

It fishes well everywhere! I prefer to use a floating line, 6ft leader, and loop knot. The fly is ideal for shallow rivers with smallmouth or other warmwater species. It’s always in my box whether I’m fishing a tannic Northwoods river, the Amazon jungle, or coastal waters where its namesake (mullet) travel during their reproductive cycles. Just get it wet and strip it home!

Any advice on techniques for fishing the Finger Mullet?

The two-hand streamer burn is a favorite of mine with this pattern. Keep it moving, keep it fleeing, keep it swimming. When tied with a loop knot, hard strips and long pauses will work-creating a slow fall and tempting jigging motion. If wade fishing in close quarters a Kelly Galloup “jerk-strip,” will turn the blunt head into a wobbling machine, resulting in a ton of finesse and control over the fly’s action.