I received several emails about peoples "favorite" flies for warm water fly
fishing, along with a number of problems people have in tying the Clouser
pattern, and thought that I'd share them with you. Who knows, maybe it'll
help. I always figure the more knowledge I have, the more fish I'll catch,
and the happier angler I'll be. Not to mention, my wife won't have to put
up with a frustrated fisherman!
One individual wrote to say that, while he likes the Clouser pattern also, he
prefers to tie modifications of the deceiver pattern. He puts in additional
tinsel or flashabou as an attractor and ties them in various sizes and color
patterns, depending on what specie of fish he's fishing for and the type of
local forage fish.
Another wrote to say his favorite warm water pattern was a crayfish. He
didn't specify which pattern he uses but he did mention he ties them
"upside down" with the hook facing up (like a Clouser) to reduce the number of
snags (and loss of the flies). Since most warm water game fish seem to have a
fondness for these little creatures, I'm sure that they'd work well in almost
any situation. I know there are about 15 crayfish patterns out there so you
shouldn't have trouble finding one suitable for your use! You might try
Al Campbell's Crayfish
or Rock's Crayfish right here.
One angler said he uses almost strictly Woolly Buggers. He ties them in
various sizes, but almost always in black. He also mentioned that he builds
them with different amounts of weight, depending on the speed and depth of the
river he's fishing, to ensure that they get to the bottom.
I also received a couple of questions or problems on tying the Clouser
pattern. I've included an except from one of them because it kind of
summarized the common problems some folks have with the pattern:
"Do you tie the bottom material to the hook and wrap
the material to the hook bend or just over and around
the eyes? What materials do you like best? I have a
problem with deer hair because it is so brittle, a few
decent bass and they look bad (probably still catch another
fish or two). I've used super hair, and it's very
durable and looks good but it's hard to build a bulky
"shiner-like" body with it. What colors and what
materials do you use to make a bluegill Clouser?
I start out by wrapping the hook (I prefer a 3x hook length) with black
thread, from the head to the start of the bend in the hook, to form the shape
of the body and give it a base for the tinsel over warp. I then tie on some
tinsel, I usually use either silver or gold and over wrap the thread to form the body.
Then I tie on the dumbbell eyes, I prefer the brass ones over the lead ones
with the stick on eyes. Make sure the dumbbell eyes set back far enough
on the shank so there is room to tie the material in front of them to
form the head. Then I cheat a bit. I tie the main deer hair streamer portion
of the Clouser behind the eyes (remember, to turn the hook over, so that the
dumbbell is on the bottom and the curve of the hook is pointed up in your
vice. It really reduces the number of snags and makes the lure appear to be a
minnow feeding off the bottom on the retrieve. I choose the colors of the
local forage fish - brown top, greenish stripe, with a white underside. Be a
little sparse with the materials, you don't need a lot or your minnow will
look too fat. Also, if you want to put some flashabou or tinsel in the lure, I
usually do it at this point.
Then I tie in the deer hair materials in front, on the hooks eye side of the
dumbbell, just the brown on the top and white on the bottom. Make a few thread
wraps on each side of the dumbbell eyes to hold it all in place, then, usually
epoxy the head, from the hooks eye to the dumbbell eyes.
You mentioned your deer hair seems to be too brittle. You might try a
couple of things. First, try hair from a different part of the deer, such as
the tail, it's less hollow and will flair less than the belly hair so it has
less tendency to break. I've also heard of (but not tried it) of people
soaking the hair in a warm water solution containing hair conditioner to
soften it (just make sure you rinse it after you soak it). The guy who told me
about it said to hang the hair to air dry it, don't use a hair dryer because
the heat will make it brittle again. Another "trick" is to use hair that has
been tanned, instead of just raw hide you usually get from hunters. The
tanning not only softens the leather but also softens the hair. Another common
mistake if your hair is breaking is you may be pulling the thread too
tight and partially cutting it.
That's it for this week. Again, if you have any other questions, comments or
advice, please feel free to write.
~ Randy Fratzke