Welcome to Panfish!

Part One Hundred-one

Randy Fratzke

Panfish Chat- Host FRITZ FRATZ - Monday. 6-8 p.m. PST (9-11 EST)

The Clouser Revisited - Reader Input

By Randy Fratzke

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?

My responses:

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

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