The Clouser Deep Minnow or as some name it, the Clouser Deep Water Minnow is a must have fly that deserves a home on your fly bench and in your fly boxes. This is a fly that I began fishing for King Salmon here in Oregon. A little research on the fly taught me that its use for salmon fishing is but a teeny tiny fraction of the applications where this fly is top cabin, front line, and among the best of the best flies to fish.
The best flies in our box do stand the test of time and are relatively simple in form, function, and tying. I would nominate the Renegade as being among the eternally effective freshwater flies for trout fishing, and the Clouser Deep Minnow is surely among the world’s most effective flies in both fresh and saltwater.
Bob Clouser has caught so many species that the count is eye-popping. So, I have read, has Lefty Kreh. Those guys have the opportunity to fish all over the world, but my experience has been limited to Oregon, and here at home, I have fished this fly effectively for Kings, a variety of bottom fish offshore, Silvers, Sea Run Cutthroat, Bull Trout, Staghorn Sculpin, and Dungeness Crab. That list isn’t long, I admit, but my friends have caught winter steelhead, Largemouth and Smallmouth bass here in Oregon, and some of my more traveled friends have caught Peacock bass, Bonefish, Permit, Tarpon, Barracuda and who knows what on these flies too. Point is, The Clouser Deep Minnow is a GREAT fly.
One funny thing is that most of the photos of this fly, including the photo introducing this article, show the Clouser in a position that is upside down, if one considers the manner that the fly fishes and the fish’s view of the fly. As in, the eyes ride on the ventral surface of the fly, the white side of the fly also rides down, the darker materials ride up, and therefore, the fly imitates a small fish (we usually call these baitfish) with a light colored belly and a darker back.
Anyway, the video shows how to tie the basic Clouser Deep Minnow, and we will follow with more videos showing some variety in Clouser fly construction with a series of fly tying instruction blog posts. One version I have had a lot of fun with recently has been the Tube Clouser. Wow! Stay Tuned.
Meanwhile, here are some basic thoughts about tying the Clouser Deep Minnow that you may consider as you tie up a zillion of these babies.
Sparse is just fine – The fly shown in this video is dressed in a moderately full version. One could use half as much material and have a fly that is as effective, or in some situations, more effective.
Securing the eyes – the figure eight wraps are just part of the trick to secure the eyes on a Clouser Minnow. The key is to make a bunch of wraps around the base of the eyes. Cement is great, Cement never hurts (unless it dissolves the painted eyes), but is not going to save you from rotating eyes unless you make the wraps around the base after making the figure eight wraps.
Cement for head – Epoxy makes a really nice finishing touch for these flies. Make sure that you do not epoxy the hook eye closed, because you will never be able to fish the fly if you do. Yes, this has happened to me many times. I give all these flies to Double R just for laughs.
Colors of the eyes – Brass plated eyes with fused pupils are the most durable but are not as heavy and so not sink as fast as good old lead eyes. Red is good. Chartreuse is good. Opal white is good. As is yellow. Plain lead eyes fish great too. Choose a color you like, keep the weight not too heavy but heavy enough to turn the hook to the sky, and you will be in fish business.
Contrast between belly and back – I ALWAYS use contrasting color combinations in my Clousers, and that is a basic part of the light belly – dark back formula in this fly pattern. Consider a grey belly with root beer back, yellow belly and black back, chartreuse belly and black back, orange belly and blue back, white belly and hot pink back and so on and such forth. This is fun stuff.
Bucktail versus synthetics – Bucktail is tough to surpass as a fly tying material. I gravitate to synthetics like DNA Holo Fusion, Craft Fur, and Fish Hair when tying Clousers for use in Saltwater.
Krystal Flash versus Flashabou – I always add some flash to my Clousers, at least when I don’t forget to tie it in, which happens fairly frequently. Those flashless Clousers catch fish too, so don’t worry if you forget, but add it if you can. I go back and forth about using Krystal Flash versus a dismaying color array of Flashabou. I generally change my mind from season to season. Use what you like, it all adds a little spice to your Clousers. When tying ocean salmon Clousers, I add a fair topping of Krystal Flash to the fly. Obviously, this increases my catch considerably.
Hook selection – use sharp hooks, If they are not sticky sharp out of the box, which they should be, use a file to sharpen them.
Hook sizes – I use size #8 hooks for sea run cutthroat clousers, and 2/0 for Ocean salmon clousers.
Clousers tied on tubes – this topic will be covered in a blog post shortly. Clousers tied on tubes are relatively new in my bag of fly fishing antics, but have been SUPER effective and fun.
Basic Baitfish Clouser
Hook: Gamakatsu SL12S # 2 or TMC 811S # 2
Thread: U140 White Ultra Thread
Eyes: Painted Lead Eyes
Belly: DNA Holo Fusion White
Flash: Mixed Colors Krystal Flash
Mid Wing: Chartreuse Bucktail
Overwing: Fl. Blue Bucktail