Tie That Fly - Clouser “Deep” Minnow
Classic patterns are classic for a reason. They reliably catch fish and anglers have unwavering faith tying them on. When considering streamers, one of the most recognised and widely fished patterns is the Clouser Deep Minnow (more commonly know just as the Clouser Minnow). Created in the late 80’s by Bob Clouser, the Clouser Minnow was originally designed to chase smallmouth bass on the Susquehanna River. However, over the years this classic pattern has been used to fool many fish species, both in freshwater and the salt, all over the world. With the ever growing popularity of streamer fishing Clouser Minnow has been overshadowed and overlooked by many anglers seeking out the latest articulated monstrosity. Big nasties have their place, but many anglers may be surprised by the versatility and effectiveness of Bob’s good old Clouser “Deep” Minnow.
Hook: 3x or 4x long streamer hook (downturned eye)
Thread:140 UTC (should be darker color than bucktail colors to add definition to the head)
Eyes: Appropriate sized lead or other dumbbell eyes
Body:Bucktail (1 or 2 colors)
Like the majority of my streamers I prefer to use 140 UTC thread on my Clouser Minnows. The way it lays out flat really helps gather and grab the bulky materials used in most streamer patterns. Any thicker, like most streamer branded threads, just adds unneeded bulk and is unnecessary. 140 is plenty strong.
1) Start out by laying down a thread base along the entire hook shank. It doesn’t need to be a uniform covering, just enough to set a foundation that the following material can bind too. Position the dumbbell eyes at the 1/3 point along the top of the shank and secure in place with crisscrossing thread wraps and then gathering wraps around the base of the eyes. The most common mistake with the Clouser Minnow is placing the eyes too close to the eye of the hook. It’s not really wrong, but it makes the fly look a little funny and the deer hair to flare too much. Add a drop of Zap-O-Gap on the thread wraps around the eyes to secure them down.
2) Place your thread half way between the eye of the hook and the dumbbell eyes. This is where you will tie in the first clump of bucktail. Remember that this fly will swim upside down, so if you are using two different bucktail colors the lighter (belly) color should go on first. Use less bucktail than you think you need. For most people take the clump of bucktail you think you need and use half of that. Less is definitely more with this fly. Too much bucktail makes the fly stiff and it doesn’t swim nearly as good. Make sure you clean the short fibers out and stack the hair a little (tips shouldn’t be perfectly even, just close). Now secure the bucktail at the point between the dumbbells and eye of the hook. Several tight firm firm wraps is all that’s needed. Now take the thread back behind the dumbbells about the same distance and secure the bucktail down again. At this point the bucktail will most likely be flared out all over the place. Gather up the bucktail and take wide snug wraps of thread down and back. The trick is the thread wraps should be just barely flaring the hair. Now is a good time to add some flash if you want. Here a single strand of pearl and a single strand of black Krystal Flash was used folded in half. I really like the hint of black here, as it give definition to where the lateral line would be.
3) Now take a clump of the other bucktail color and add prepare it in a similar way as above. Again, not too much. It is really easy to overdress Clouser Minnows. Tie in the bucktail with tight wraps near the eye of the fly and add tight thread wraps back toward the dumbbells. The important thing is when you near the dumbbells lighten up on the thread wraps and use them the gather the hair and orientate the fibers pointed back. As long as you don’t add too much pressure to the thread wraps near the dumbells the bucktail won’t flare all over the place. Now simply add a few whip finishes and add a drop of Zap-O-Gap.
Solid white, olive over white, blue over white and red over yellow (dirty water killer) are some popular color combos, but have some fun and try some other variations.