Although trout aren't always subject to the "bigger fish want bigger
meals" theory, bass, pike and many other predator fish are often strict
adherents to the rule. After they reach a certain size, trout also start
looking for a bigger plate of meat at lunchtime. I guess that's why big
trout frequently turn to eating meat in the form of minnows, frogs and
any other sizable meal that will quench their growing appetite.
Mice are often menu items in the meal plans of predatory fish. And,
it's not just mice, but a variety of small rodents about the size of mice
seem to frequently find themselves in the water and in harm's way.
Predatory fish don't seem to be too picky; if it looks like a mouse, it
must be mealtime.
Folks who live near the northern rivers of Alaska and northern Canada
know the value of mice to the big trout that haunt those river systems.
Field mice, lemmings and a host of other small rodents spend their
summers on the banks of fast flowing rivers. It only takes a sudden gust
of wind or a slip of foot to plunge these tiny rodents into the jaws of
death. And death it is if a big trout is holding near the bank waiting
for just that opportunity. It happens often enough that mouse patterns
are common tools to catch the monster trout of the north.
In lakes a bit farther south, pike and bass also know the value of a
mouse meal. One common method used to catch large pike where I grew up
in Montana was to run a hook through the skin on the back of a live mouse
and launch it on a stick or board into a lake. After the mouse had
drifted in the wind to a distance of about 50 feet from shore, it was
yanked off the stick and allowed to swim. I've watched as some huge pike
were fooled by this trick. Largemouth bass are also suckers for mice.
Live mice are difficult to catch, they bite real hard and they only
work for one fish before you need to capture another mouse. That,
coupled with some valid concern about cruelty to small fuzzy critters was
probably the main reason mouse flies were developed. After all, why
would you load a bunch of unhappy rodents into your vest pocket and risk
the possibility of a nasty bite if you could fill your vest with
imitations that work just as well as the original?
There are a lot of imitations of mice that will do the job. Some are
tied with rabbit strips, some with other furs and synthetics, and some
with deer hair. Many are merely spun deer hair that has been carefully
clipped to the shape of a mouse, but perhaps the most misunderstood
pattern is Dave Whitlock's Mouserat and its variations. I think the
Mouserat is probably the best and most productive mouse pattern of all
time, and if you know how to tie it, you'll have one great giant fish
If you've followed this series to this point, the Mouserat should be
easy for you to learn. If you've been skipping around, I suggest you
review the steps and techniques for stacking hair shown in the diver
flies if you want to keep up with the mouserat steps.
I don't tie my mouserat imitation exactly the same way Dave Whitlock
ties his, but I think the results are close enough to fool the fish.
Actually, I've never seen any two people tie the mouserat the same, but
the results are nearly always the same if you abide by the same simple