What's the Story? The Clouser Minnow, originally designed by Bob Clouser in 1987 for smallmouth bass, has likely caught more species than any other fly in existence. He took the best attributes of a bucktail jig and modified them for the fly rod. The lead eyes, the key to this fly, turn a Clouser over in the water so it rides hook-point-up and give it a jigging motion when it is stripped through the water. Because it rides hook-point-up it is relatively snag free. It is typically most effective when tied sparsely. The original pattern calls for bucktail but the Clouser can be tied with a wide variety of materials and in any color you can imagine.
It is worth noting that the development of the Clouser Minnow was preceded by the invention of lead dumbbell eyes by Tom Schmuecker, owner of Wapsi Fly, Inc. These lead eyes revolutionized fly tying, allowing for the creation of the Clouser Minnow and many other patterns in use today.
What's it Good For? The Clouser has likely caught more species than any other fly, from bluewater species to bluegill. It can easily be adapted to your needs by modifying the size, sink rate, material and color in any way you want.
How to Fish It The Clouser is extremely adaptable. It can be fished with a fast, two hand retrieve in deeper water just as readily as crawled along the bottom on a redfish flat. Part of the effectiveness of the fly comes form the jigging action created by the lead eyes in front and the long, stiff, sometimes buoyant material behind. A steady strip followed by a pause will pull the fly up in the water column or off of the bottom and allow it to dive back down again.
Tying Options The Clouser has moved past the "pattern" stage and become more of a style or type of fly. The original pattern calls for bucktail but the Clouser can be tied with a wide variety of long fibers, both natural and synthetic. Chartreuse and white is probably the most popular color combination, but the fly can be tied in any color you can imagine. Along with chartreuse/white, white/white, tan/white, black/black and black/purple are locally popular combinations. The fly is typically tied with a standard length hook but some prefer a 1x or 2x long hook to move the business end of the fly closer to the tail. Eye weight must be sufficient to turn the fly over to ride hook point up but can me changed to match the desired sink rate.
Start your thread just behind the eye of the hook and lay down a thread base for the eyes.
Tie the eyes in on top of the hook (on the side opposite the point), about 1/3 of the hook shank length behind the hook eye.
Remove some white bucktail fibers from the top half of a bucktail. You want about the thickness of a #2 pencil lead when the fibers are compressed. The length extending past the tie-in point should be 1 1/2 to 2 times the length of the hook shank. Discard any hairs that are not long enough.
Tie in the bucktail just in front of the eyes and on top of the hook, with the tips facing the back of the hook. You can either trim the butt ends even before tying the material in or tie it en and they trim.
After securing the bucktail, advance your thread to just behind the eyes, being careful not to bind down the bucktail.
Gather the bucktail together. While holding down directly on top of the hook shank, secure the bucktail behind the eyes with a few thread wraps. Don't wrap too tightly or you will cause the material to flare. You can either stop here or bind the bucktail too the hook shank with open wraps all the way back to the bend.
Even up the tips and measure Tie a bundle of white bucktail (already evened up) to the top of the hook shank just in front of the eye. The tips should be pointing towards the back of the fly with the butt ends towards the eye of the hook. The full length of the fibers from the tie-in-point should be 1 ½ to 2 times the length of the hook shank. Make sure the bucktail is firmly attached then pick up the butt ends at a 45 degree angle and trim, with your scissors parallel to the hook. This will create a taper giving you a clean finish. Bind the butt ends down smoothly.
Work your thread around to just behind the eyes and, holding the tail fibers up away from the hook at about a 45 degree angle, put a couple wraps of thread over the tail fibers and tighten them down to the hook shank.
Using crisscrossing wraps, bind the bucktail to the hook shank to just opposite the hook point then come back up to behind they eyes. Put a couple locking wraps in behind the eyes then move your thread to just in front of the eyes.
Flip your hook over in the vise or, if using a rotary vise, just rotate the vise 180 degrees.
Advance the thread to just in front of the eyes and tie in a few strands of flash.
Using the same procedure as with the white bucktail, attach the chartreuse bucktail underneath the hook shank (on the point side) opposite the eyes. If the bucktail flares, try putting some slightly looser wraps around the tail fibers back towards the eyes to help control it.
Wrap down the butt ends of the bucktail, create a neat thread head, whip finish and apply head cement.