The St. Johns High Tie Minnow is an excellent shad fly pattern to target shad on the fly in the St. Johns River. It is tied with bead chain eyes so the fly rides hook tip up, which keeps it from hanging up in the grass or muscle beds. This makes this shad fly a St. Johns River Favorite. As the name tells, the wing is tied in “high tie” style which presents the fly to the shad in a slightly different way to other minnow patterns. I believe the aggressive posture of the high tie wing makes this fly pattern look more like a small baitfish or shrimp diving for bottom to avoid danger. It is particularly successful at taking shad when fished near bottom using a sink tip line or polyleader, where it bounces through cover looking for a place to hide. While I tend to use a figure-of-eight retrieve with most shad flies, I will mix it up when fishing this fly and use some quick, short strips to help add to the illusion of bait looking for cover.
In addition to being a great fly for shad on the St. Johns River, it has also taken quite a few other species. Panfish such as crappie, bluegill, and sunfish of all types have been caught using the St. John’s High Tie Minnow. I have also taken smaller 1-2 pound bass in good numbers. Most of these species have been caught on this pattern when fishing higher in the water column by using the fly without a sink tip or polyleader. I have also caught small gar and decent size catfish using it.
St. Johns High Tie Minnow Pattern:
Hook: Size 6
Thread: Red Danville’s Flat Waxed Nylon
Underwing: White Kip Tail (tied short on the bottom of the hook)
Flash: Flashabou (color to match the upper wing)
Top Wing: Kip Tail (color of your choice, tied in a similar fashion to the underwing)
Eyed: Bead chain
Note: Be sure to build a small bump of thread before tying in the wings as well as making thread wraps behind the wings once tied in to ensure it stands up and stays there. My favorite colors are orange over white and pink over white.