The Clouser Minnow is perhaps the most effective streamer fly of all time.
It catches anything that will eat a minnow. In fact, it usually
out-fishes any other streamer pattern you might have hidden in your fly
box. Aside from the common jig, it is likely the most productive single
lure of all time. For that, we need to thank Bob Clouser for his inventive
mind and this great fly.
I believe a Clouser Minnow will catch anything that opens its mouth. To
date, I've caught three kinds of bass, walleyes, northern pike, tiger
musky, five types of trout, two types of catfish, carp, crappie, perch,
bluegills and sunfish on the fly. I also had the luck to catch a few
unnamed saltwater fish and something called a surf-perch when I had the
rare chance to try it in saltwater. Can you name another fly that's
versatile enough to catch more species of fish?
I think the greatest feature of the Clouser Minnow is the way the barbell
eyes cause the fly to "swim" in the water. You have some control over this
motion by having control over where you place the eyes. Move them forward
toward the hook eye and it swims more like a jig. Move them back toward
the hook bend, and it glides through the water.
Traditionally, the eyes are tied to the hook about 1/3 of the hook shank
back from the hook eye. This causes the fly to swim similar to a jig with
a slight sliding motion. When I tie the fly for chasing crappie, I usually
move the eyes to about 1/4 of the hook shank back from the hook eye. This
causes the fly to dip and dive very much like a traditional crappie jig.
For smallmouth bass, I often tie in the eyes between 1/3 and 1/2 the hook
shank back from the hook eye to create a sliding motion smallmouth bass
just can't resist.
Another feature of the Clouser Minnow is the way the fly swims with the
hook point up instead of the traditional downward look. This makes the fly
virtually weedless so it can be used in heavy cover where many predator
fish lurk. It also does a pretty good job of bouncing over rocks without
hanging up or damaging the point of the hook.
For those folks who don't believe walleyes can be caught on a fly, they
just don't know the value of a Clouser Minnow. This is one of the most
productive walleye lures ever invented. Fished in the shallows in spring
and fall, it often out-fishes more traditional lures and baits. Fished off
rocky points and drop-offs during the hot days of summer, it's often just
the thing big walleyes are looking for.
If you look closely at minnows and other water critters like crayfish,
you'll notice that the underside of these creatures is lighter in color
than the top. It's important to consider this fact when you place the
materials on the hook. Since this fly swims with the hook point up, the
lighter materials are placed on the opposite side of the hook shank from
the point. This is exactly the opposite from the way most streamers are tied.
Although I could probably consume a few more pages of text describing the
virtues of the Clouser Minnow, I think I'll let you find out for yourself
instead. Let's get started.