My last post featured dry fly bee and hornet patterns, so I thought I would continue the trend with the McGinty. The McGinty, while well known as a wet fly for trout, was originally developed for bass in 1883 by Charles McGinty. The fact that the McGinty was originally designed as a warm water fly has a unique appeal to me. There are many theories as to what the original fly was supposed to represent, the most common being a bumble bee. However, the method in which this wet fly would have been fished would hardly imitate a hapless bumble bee finding itself stranded in the water. I have searched high and low for a drawing or color plate of the original McGinty that was developed for bass but have come up with only one example. E.C. Gregg’s How to Tie Flies (from 1940) has a black and white line drawing of a McGinty bass fly. The image below represents how I picture the fly being initially tied.
I have created a super-sized this pattern for targeting bass, but I’ll cover that another day. Today we are here to talk about one of my favorite panfish wet flies the McGinty. This fly will be the scaled-down version that is most familiar to warm and cold water fly fisherman alike.
The McGinty wet fly is constructed out of repeating bands of black and yellow chenille. In addition to the traditional chenille body, I have used dubbing and even dyed ostrich herl on smaller versions of the fly. The McGinty performs well for me from mid-spring right on through late fall. I fish it like other wet flies and soft hackles in my arsenal. I like to target the edges of weed lines, lily pads and the limbs of fallen trees. I cast to the structure and let the fly sink without moving it, all the while watching my leader like a hawk. If there is a twitch or other un-natural movement, a flick of the wrist usually finds the fly set firmly in the mouth of a bluegill or crappie. If nothing takes the fly on its slow descent, I slowly and smoothly retrieve it with a hand twist retrieve. I will also use the fly as a searching pattern as I walk or paddle my way along a shoreline. It never disappoints me.
The original McGinty pattern called for a body of alternating black and yellow chenille, a tail of red feather fibers topped with gray mallard, a brown hackle throat and a wing of black-white turkey. My current version is simplified a bit. The two-tone gray and red tail have been changed over to all red, a brown or black hackle is tied in wet fly style over a black and yellow body. For a wing, I use a black and white wood duck feather. I have even substituted a well marked black and light gray squirrel tail for a wing instead of a feather.
Another version I tie and fish is Tom Kieth’s, Black Laced McGinty. Tom simplified the fly even further by eliminating the wing all together and replacing the brown hackle fibers with a collar of black laced yellow hen neck. Arguably the Black Laced Yellow Hen Neck from Whiting hackle may be hard to source. I find that a yellow dyed grizzly feather works just fine and can be easily found. I also tie it keeping the brown hackle intact. Both perform equally good. I have included a link here to the Black Laced McGinty featured on Ward Bean's Warm Water Fly Tyer page.
The McGinty Wet Fly
Hook: Standard Wet Fly sizes 10-16
Thread: Black 70 denier
Tail: Red hackle fibers
Body: Fine black and yellow chenille
Hackle: A wet fly collar of black or brown hackle
Wing: A folded black and white barred wood duck feather