The Clouser Deep Minnow is
an American classic. It is a perfect example of form following function.
Simple, elegant, effective and – to a fish at least – irresistible. The Clouser
minnow is probably responsible for more big fish than any other single pattern.
From salt water to fresh, from smallmouth bass (for which it was originally
designed) to striped bass, trout to tarpon, the Clouser Minnow possesses the
ability to mimic uncounted natural food forms and any flight of fancy that you’d
care to take down the road of “attractor” pattern.
I am a great fan of the Ohio
hybrid bass fishery. While you could probably catch fish on just about any
pattern, I’ve experienced enough hours on the big river to know that certain
strike triggers really do make a difference. The Clouser delivers those
triggers in spades. It has an ability to plummet through the water column and
deliver a wonderful bobbing, jigging action on retrieve. With the addition of
holographic eyes it mimics the key strike trigger of a gizzard shad. And when
tied correctly for this specific fishery, it possesses that rare and necessary quality
for clear water and sight-feeding fish - translucence.
I've found that, to attain
the critical translucency so necessary for an effective pattern, it is vital to
tie a Clouser sparsely. Most ties from fly shops are hopelessly
overdressed. This is true for the ties I see even from experienced fly
fishers. Here is a trick to help make a better Clouser Minnow: however much hair- be it bucktail, foxtail, coyote
tail or man made fibers- you typically use, use half that much. You’ll still
probably overdress the fly, but you’ll also see an improvement in its fish
catching ability! The fly pictured is tied on a size 4, 4XL stainless hook. It
uses about 20 hairs for the belly and about the same for the back. There are
only three strands of peacock herl for a topping. And there are precisely eight
strands of crystal flash sandwiched between the wings. For a size 10 designed
for trout I’d suggest half that amount.
Next time you tie a Clouser
Minnow, count out the hairs you use. See what a true sparse tie looks like.
Fish it even if you initially lack confidence in this slim design. I’m
confident you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Hook: 3xl or 4xl ring eye,
size 4 in the example
Belly: Not more than 20
white bucktail hairs for the size 4 pictured
Flash: Not more than 8
strands of pearl crystal flash for the size 4 pictured
Wing: Not more than 20
strands of minnow gray bucktail for the size 4 pictured
Overwing: 3 strands of
Eyes: Medium (1/20
oz) lead eyes, filed flat to accept the holographic Mirage eyes. Glue the
Mirage eyes on with a strong, waterproof cement such as Gorilla Glue or Goop