The Clouser Deep Minnow is a GREAT fishing fly. The darn thing, in many colors and sizes, just looks like food to many fish around the world and is among my very favorite flies for salmon fishing here in Oregon. And yes, I do know that the Clouser deep minnow is a fly that is fished around the planet by anglers seeking to catch anything but a salmon, like smallmouth bass, musky, bonefish, tarpon, shad, snook, redfish, toadfish, giant grouper, blue shark, and guppies.
Lately, I have had the opportunity to explore some new fly fishing territory, shift fishing obsessions to new targets, and dabbled with adapting some of my traditional Clousers to new species and fly styles. This has been tons of fun. Rockfish (including Lingcod) love Clousers. Sea Run Cutthroat love Clousers too. Silvers love Clousers.
So, what the hey, why not tie up some Clousers on tubes? Sure, plenty of fly fishers have probably been doing this for ages, but this was new for me. This started when I ventured offshore for the first time this year with Jack and Jon Harrell, in their Pacific City based Dory, the Gold Comet. A decades old fear of being sea-sick had kept me off the ocean, but I finally decided to give it a go. Wow. This was fun on top of fun. No puking whatsoever, and willing bottom fish to the fly were a new treat for me. My slow sinking salmon lines were quickly replaced with my fastest sinkers, I upped my rod weight a little, and started tossing salmon Clousers to the Black Rocks (the fish, that is). They ate them plenty nice.
I noticed, sadly, that my grabs were plenty and my hookups were on the sparse side. Hummmmmm. Maybe the #2 hook I LOVE for Kings in tidewater was a little small for the big mouths of the briny deep. This got me thinking about tying Clousers on 1/0 and 2/0 hooks, which I did on short order. These flies definitely upped my hooking ratio on the bottomfish. But I was still plagued, if this could be considered a negative, by receiving many many more grabs than solid hookups. Now I wondered if this might be on account of short strikes, a function of the fish nipping at the tail end of the fly and just giving the fly a tug with no contact with the hook.
Then too, I was not entirely pleased with some of the larger hooks or with long shank hooks that I tried in order to overcome the short strike phenom> These hooks are too large for my liking when fishing Chinook and silvers in the estuary. The hooks may not actually be too large, but I thought they were, and once I start down the path of confidence reduction in any particular fly, they are likely to be eliminated from my box.
What to do? Some of the ocean Clousers I was fishing were not much larger than my in-river Clousers. Hummmmmmm. Silly head. Tie on tubes and switch out hook sizes depending on where they will be fished. Simple and effective. So I went to the bench and made it happen. Then in short order I put to sea with my friends and behold, the tube Clousers were an instant hit and my hooking ratio stayed high. The bonus was that my fly endured for many, many hookups. Often, the fly would ride up the leader, just as it is supposed to, and evade at least some of the beating it would normally have experienced if it were lodged in the chompers of a sharp toothed bottom-fish.
By the way, these rockfish ranged from as deep as 40-50′ to a shallow as rolling on the surface. This naturally called for different fly lines and some Clousers with large and small dumbell eyes. This was wonderful because it offered a justification to tie lots of flies and buy lots of materials and boxes to store the flies and hooks in and …………
My Sea Run tube clousers, tied very slender with Fish hair were just what the Blueback wanted to eat during several recent evening forays into the estuary. These were tied in white and pink, and in white/pink/blue, all with a little multi color Krystal flash and #8 TMC 811S hooks.
We will cover the next stage in the evolution of the Tube Clouser when we get to the Tuna Tube Clouser, but that is yet to be fully researched, so wish me luck. The Silver Salmon Bucktail Clouser has indeed been tested with wonderful results, and that too will be covered shortly.
A few recap thoughts: Tube cClousers offer the advantages of 10 protecting the fly from excessive chewage by the multitude of fish you will catch on these flies; 2) allow you to adjust the hook size with the same overall fly size remaining constant; and 3) allow placement of the hook near the very tail end of the Clouser, which can be a huge advantage when receiving short strikes.
Tube Clouser Minnow
Tube: Pro Tube Micro Tube
Eyes: Aluminum Sea Eyes w/3D Pupil
Belly: DNA Holo Fusion
Lateral Line: Red Krystal Flash
Dorsal Surface: Blue and Lime Green Bucktail
Overtopping: Mixed Colors Krystal Flash
Hook Guide: Pro Tube XL Hook Guide
Hook: Gamakatsu S12S # 2