The more I started fishing for warm-water species, the more I got interested in bait-fish patterns. As someone who loves tying, that also means I started experimenting to come up with my own pattern.
Around this time, I also had increasing interest in trying to get into the commercial fly tying biz. There are a lot of great patterns out there, and it’s increasingly difficult to come up with something unique, but I wanted to give it a shot.
After some trial and error, I felt like I was really close to what I wanted. I had a decent minnow pattern that was using some unique materials, but it wasn’t quite where I wanted it to be. I finally enlisted help of my friend, Bob White. Bob has had years and years of pro guiding experience and I knew he’d have some ideas to help polish off the pattern. Bob helped me by suggesting to use materials that are readily available, and to choose a hook size that can be used with both warm water species and trout. This collaboration resulted in the B.J. (Bob & Josh) Minnow.
I tied the fly mainly with smallmouth bass fishing in mind. However, the fly has proven to be a versatile, multi-species fly. I’ve personally landed smallmouth, largemouth, pike, and musky on the fly. I’ve even had some folks out west mention that they’ve used them to target larger trout.
Versatility was important to me, so I’ve tied the fly in a few different color combinations: tiger, grey/white, olive, and tan/white. I feel each color combination does a good job of imitating natural forage that is found from the East to the West coast. Olive is great sculpin or dark emerald shiner pattern. Grey/white imitates shad, shiner, herring or alewife. Tan/white works to imitate an exoglossum (cutlips minnow), red sucker, or a golden shiner.
I typically use my 8-weight when I’m tossing my B.J. Minnow, but I’ve used a 7-9 weight with it effectively as well. I like to fish this fly with floating line when I am on rivers like the Mississippi or the St. Croix, and a sinking line when in lakes. If you want to kick it up one more notch tie on a small woolly bugger 12-15 inches in front of the B.J. Minnow. I know this is opposite of the typical fly/dropper tandem rig. However, this setup makes it look like the B.J. Minnow is swimming after the leech. This can get bigger fish jazzed up to hit the minnow, or get smaller fish to feel competitive and hit the bugger. (This is a handy trick I learned from a great guide – the aforementioned Bob White.)
The B.J. Minnow is available through Montana Fly Co. If you’d like to get a hold of some of these flies, you can look to see which of your local shops carries Montana Fly Co. flies. If you get a chance to use one, I’d love to hear your feedback!