CM4. The Green & White Clouser's Deepwater Minnow
INVERTED HOOK PATTERNS. Hook size 2, 4, 6, 8 - $US each
CLOUSER'S DEEPWATER MINNOW
The Clouser's (pronounced clouwser as in owl or cloud) Minnow was designed by Bob Clouser with a little help from Lefty Kreh. It was originally developed for catching smallmouth bass in the Susquehana River in Pennsylvania and Maryland. It has evolved into a tying style, by varying the color and size of the pattern any baitfish can be imitated. Looking at a Clouser's one wonders how a fish can mistake this for food. Compared to the real thing this pattern looks like a fleeting glimpse and that is exactly the magic of this pattern. Next time you see some bait fish like needlefish, pilchard or anchovy notice how when they are disturbed, all you see are flashes and vague images, exactly the same view the marauding predatory fish see. The belly color is always a light color like white or yellow. The body color becomes darker as you move up laterally. This becomes a copy of the typical coloration of most baitfish. The use of the weighted dumbbell eyes rather than the usual bead chain eyes found on flies like the crazy charlie enables this fly to get down to the bottom fast. This is why Clouser's Minnow is called the Deepwater Minnow.
Using a slow to moderate strip retrieve, this pattern darts and dives continuously because of the weighted nose. On the retrieve it rises up and on the pause it sinks. Takes are nothing short of ravenous. Another bonus for this pattern was its success on other species not just Smallmouth Bass. Most new fly fishermen consider them a saltwater pattern for fish like the Bonefish, stripped bass or Tarpon. I have tried them in freshwater streams and rivers with good results. On one fishing trip in Scotland I went home with a full bag of salmon and large trout. I even once caught a pike on a Clouser's Minnow. They are certainly strong enough to handle the weight and power of these fish. Lefty Kreh has been quoted as saying he has caught over 101 different fish species with a Clouser's Minnow. This truly is a fly for all seasons and a must for your fly box. This is a "don't leave home without it" type of fly.
The Clouser's Minnow is an inverted hook pattern. It is designed so that the hook rides above the shank in the water. The idea is that the hook does not get caught on the bottom. By adding a relatively stiff wing material near the hook eye which covers the hook point, the fly becomes nearly weedless. Other inverted hook patterns are dressed to create inversion by bending the hook, by adding weighted eyes on the hook shank opposite the point and/ or by using relatively buoyant materials to cover the hook point. Any of these three techniques can cause the fly to ride inverted. If tied with sparse materials these flies can be made to sink very fast. This fly will bounce up and down on the retrieve and makes puffy little clouds on the bottom that sends out visible signals to nearby fish who interpret it as, ‘there is something moving down there that maybe good to eat.
Bob Clouser minnow rides hook up and consequently gill hooks very few fish unlike the conventional hook down fly. This means that more fish are released in a healthy condition. Bob may not have designed his famous fly with these qualities in mind but he should be deeply satisfied with this added feature. In nature if you can be seen your dead. Most prey species of the bonefish are very well camouflaged. Your fly must not mimic nature too well for if it cannot be seen you will not catch fish. I like to search for the natural gathering points for baitfish look for tide rips, horizontal and vertical eddies, as these are were the baitfish go and therefore so do their predators
Subtle colored flies work best on sunny, bright days in shallow water. Bright colored flies work best on cloudy days in deeper water or at sunset. Bonefish patterns should match the color of the bottom in the area you are fishing: light colored flies on light sandy bottoms and dark colored flies on dark turtle grass/coral bottoms. Flies that hit the water with little impact are more effective than those that strike heavy and spook the fish. Stock your bonefish fly box with: Bonefish Specials, Crazy Charles, Clouser's Minnows (The top three producers in order are: Tan and White Clouser's Minnow, Chartreuse-white Clouser's Minnow (Chartreuse = light green) and Pink-white Clouser's Minnow) and lastly Horror flies for spooky fish. I have used Clouser's Minnows successfully for bonefish off the shoreline in the Caribbean. It is a great fly for fishing jacks and blind casting from the shore. It is my all purpose searching fly. One little tip is to keep your hands clean. Bonefish have a powerful sense of smell. They can smell crabs and shrimps they cannot see. They can also smell, insect repellent, beer, sunblock, gasoline and aftershave. I wasted a whole days fishing. I was using a lot of sunblock because I did not want to get sunburnt as I had very white English skin that had not seen the sun for five months. I was getting frustrated an being the only one not catching fish when my guide pointed out my error. After I thoroughly cleaned my flies my luck changed.
Clouser’s Deepwater Minnows are ideal at mimicking a number of different small slender baitfish like smelts, Sand lance, Silversides and Anchovies to name but a few. Smelt are found mainly off the pacific and extreme north eastern Atlantic USA coast. They are also called candlefish or white fish. They are slender fish and can grow up to 10 inches long. Their stomachs are silvery white and they have green to blue backs. The eye is large comparatively to the rest of the body. Sand Lance are commonly referred to as Sand Eels, candlefish or needle fish. When fully grown they range in size from 3 to 8 inches. The Northern and American Sand Lance gave bluish green ore olive brown backs with silver sides and white bellies. At certain times of the year they take on a reddish appearance. Silversides are slender baitfish with a prominent eye. Some species have translucent bellies that make the stomach sacks visible. Others have silver-white underbellies with light green to greenish-blue on their backs. They range in size from 2 to 10 inches but jacksmelt and topsmelt can reach up to 16 inches. Silversides are sometimes more commonly known as shiners, whitebait, spearing and glass minnows. Rain bait is a term used to describe juveniles. Over 90 species of Anchovies swim around the costal waters of North America. They closely resemble silversides. Most have a silvery to blue-green back with a whitish or translucent grey underside. They are a slender fish with a blunt nose. Their large eyes are close to the front of their heads.
Bob Clouser is very hard to find. He has a shop near the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania, but he is very rarely there. Because of his famous invention he is in high demand as a speaker at shows, demonstrations, seminars and is involved in conservation efforts. His fame and popularity seem to grow daily. His wisdom derived from practical application as a guide is much appreciated. The Clouser’s Minnow is also a great fly for fishing North American Gulf Coast Redfish. There are now thousands of variations based on the original. Make sure you have some in your fly box. In 1952 a young boy called Bob Clouser was given a basic fly-tying kit for his fourteenth birthday by his father. He practiced and learnt new skills both in fly tying and fly fishing. Bob experimented using the vise and tried to create attractive and lifelike patterns for both saltwater and freshwater fly fishing. He read widely on the subject of fly fishing and picked up many tips. He also lived near Lefty Kreh and fished the same waters. They meet and became friends. Bob has said that Lefty taught him a lot of things about the art of fly fishing.
In 1984 Bob Clouser incorporated dumb-bell shaped lead eyes into his designs. Tom Schmucker of Wapsi Fly Co had recommended them to him and sent some Lefty Barbell Eye samples. He discovered that they gave them the action of an escaping baitfish as during the retrieve pause the fly changed directions downwards. He also found that they inverted the hook which helped prevent the fly from snagging on weed and debris. Bob’s aim was to design a fly with a sleek minnow silhouette. He experimented with different materials to find fibers that would give the desired shape. He settled on Deer tail hair because it gave flies the movement and shape he was looking for. He was a deer hunter so had easy access to the necessary material. Bob added flash to give extra life to the pattern. During the retrieve he found that the long deer hair wing body kept moving during the retrieve and mimicked the action of a baitfish that constantly darts to escape hungry predatory larger fish. Just by varying the hook size and colours of the fly tying materials many different baitfish species can be imitated. Bob’s design soon became popular worldwide and not just on his native Susquehanna River, where he has spent many years as a fly-fishing guide.
Bob’s favorite color combination for Smallmouth and largemouth bass is chartreuse and white but he likes to use the tan and white Clouser’s Minnow, a more subdued color combination, when his fishing season starts in early spring when the water is not clear. Bob’s favourite tarpon colors a chartreuse and yellow mixture with a lot of gold flash in it. He has also caught smallmouth bass, snook and bonefish on that fly. When Bob Clouser was asked what was the biggest mistakes he see when people try to tie the Clouser’s Deepwater Minnow he said that they were all dressed too heavy. They must be sparsely dressed. In Bob’s opinion if you can make a fly that isn't bulky you will get light penetration through all the fibres and more movement then you do with one that's tied too heavy in silhouette. Light refraction shining through the deer hair on hitting the flash strands helps show movement. A thinner fly will affect the speed of the fall and the drop of the fly. The thicker and heavier the fly the slower it moves in the air and it is less agile when fished in the water. Bob also said that another mistake is having the dumbbell eyes too close to the eye of the hook. It doesn't affect the effectiveness of the fly. But it doesn't allow you to make a good solid unbreakable fly pattern. If you moved the eyes back slightly and leave a little space between the back of the head and the eyes of the fly you can get epoxy in under there. When you epoxy that whole unit, it holds the whole fly together and makes it a lot more durable.
Clouser’s Deepwater Minnows are ideal at a number of different small slender baitfish like smelts, Sand lance, Silversides and Anchovies. Smelt are found mainly off the pacific and extreme north eastern Atlantic USA coast. They are also called candlefish or white fish. They are slender fish and can grow up to 10 inches long. Their stomachs are silvery white and they have green to blue backs. The eye is large comparatively to the rest of the body. Sand Lance are commonly referred to as Sand Eels, candlefish or needle fish. When fully grown they range in size from 3 to 8 inches. The Northern and American Sand Lance gave bluish green ore olive brown backs with silver sides and white bellies. At certain times of the year they take on a reddish appearance. Silversides are slender baitfish with a prominent eye. Some species have translucent bellies that make the stomach sacks visible. Others have silver-white underbellies with light green to greenish-blue on their backs. They range in size from 2 to 10 inches but jacksmelt and topsmelt can reach up to 16 inches. Silversides are sometimes more commonly known as shiners, whitebait, spearing and glass minnows. Rain bait is a term used to describe juveniles. Over 90 species of Anchovies swim around the costal waters of North America. They closely resemble silversides. Most have a silvery to blue-green back with a whitish or translucent grey underside. They are a slender fish with a blunt nose. Their large eyes are close to the front of their heads
STING RAY TIP
When ever you see a ray swimming near by it is always worth casting just behind it. Even if you cannot see any following bonefish they will follow in its wake. The movement of the Rays wings as they glide over the surface disturb the sea bed and dislodges shrimps and crabs. The bonefish love an easy meal.
SEA TROUT & MACKEREL
I happened to be in North Devon, England during a hot spell two summers ago. There were lots of children happily playing sand castles on the beach. I picked my way through all the families and waded into the sea with my fly rod and a fly box full of Clouser's Minnows. I picked a spot near where the river burst into the sea. I had no idea what might be swimming out there. I was so pleased when on my third cast I caught a good sized fresh run silver sea trout. Ten minutes later my line went tight again. Another sea trout as big as the first. They liked these flies. I caught a further eight before I noticed I was getting a little too sun burnt. The next day I noticed that there were local fishing boats desperate for trade. Because of the heat no one wanted to go fishing. I hired one at a very reasonable rate for an evening cruise. I refused the captain's offer of using his spinning rods and live bait. I tied on the Clouser's Minnows again and could not believe my luck. I pulled large mackerel after mackerel. You do not need to go to the Caribbean or North America to have fun with Bob Clouser's deepwater minnows.
BLUEFISH AND STRIPED OR 'STRIPER' SEA BASS
A Clouser's Minnow is ideal for Bluefish and Striped bass fishing. Striped bass can be found in many costal waters from the St Lawrence River south to Northern Florida on America's Eastern Coast and from Washington to California on the Pacific Coast where they were introduced in the 1879. They swim far upstream in rivers to spawn. The stripped bass can be distinguished from the European Bass by the seven to eight dark strips running down its body. Stripers spend the winter semi dormant in river systems like the Hudson and Chesapeake Bay on the Atlantic Coast but when the sea temperature reaches 48 degrees F in the spring they become active and start to feed. The shoals migrate north up the coast and return in September/October. Big fish are caught deep in early winter, but in warmer places like Jamaica Bay they are still caught near the surface. In warm waters they can be fished for all year on the fly. They can feed in the roughest surf. You can see them chasing smaller bait fish along the beach until their backs come out of the water. You will also find them holding in estuaries, deep channels, and off jetties, piers or sand bars.
Bass feed by trapping bait fish against a shoreline or by attacking them from deep below. Small fish are inhaled and larger bait fish are are grabbed head first and crushed. Stripers have a dangerous spiky dorsal fins so handle them by their lower lip. Stripped bass can grow up to 70lb. A bluefish feeding melee can bring up the bigger stripped bass
Stripers can be temperamental compared to the Bluefish who are an aggressive formidable predator that have a full set of sharp teeth. They are found in the same habitat as stripers. The bass normally can be found feeding on Bluefish leftovers of dead and dying fish after a feeding frenzy. If you are lucky you might witness one of these feeding blitz. They corral a shoal of baitfish into a big ball and then when the ball is surrounded they attack.
I was lucky to witness this on my last trip to the States last September. I was fishing for stripers when all of a sudden the captain pointed to gulls swarming around an area of water that was turning white with fish breaking through the surface. 'Bass?' I asked him. 'No those are Bluefish on the feed, change your tippet for wire. Those things have very fast teeth'. I used a floating line with a chartreuse and white 2/0 Lefty's Deceiver attached to the wire tippet. The gulls must have thought Christmas had come early. They were eating as many fleeing bait fish as they could swallow. The noise was very, very loud.
We were told to cast into the center of the swirling mass of activity. I hooked almost immediately. Blue fish are very strong powerful fish. My first was a seven pounder and my second a 12 pounder. The Captain shouted at me to be very careful and use big pliers to extract the hook or end up in hospital with bluefish bite wounds. I must have caught over 12 of about the same size range that day. I had a fantastic days fishing. Later in the bar I found out that many of the locals looked down on bluefish as easy prey. I'm sorry I think they are a wonderful sporting fish.
CUSTOMER'S COMMENT - FLY FISHING IN LOS ANGELES !!!
In Southern California we are trout deprived so I like to go surf fishing to get some real all year round fly-fishing action on Hermosa Beach near Manhattan Beach Pier, 17 miles south west of Los Angeles. Barred surf perch is my favorite fish but there is a fine variety of saltwater fishing in the surf zone on this excellent sandy beach. If you are a tourist visiting LA or come here on Business pack your rod and head for the beach. I use a 9 weight rod and a saltwater rated reel with a fast sinking 300 grain integrated shooting head with an intermediate sinking running portion to get the fly on to the bottom where you will find the feeding fish. They are looking for worms, shrimps and small fry bait fish. Crazy Charlies, Gotcha, Mini puffs, and Clouser's Minnows in size 6 work great. Time your cast to just hit the sea beyond an incoming wave. Wait for the fly to sink to the bottom before starting the retrieve. Vary your retrieve speed. Do not stick in the same spot unless it is generating fish. Pick a location that is calmer than other areas where there are no breaking waves. This normally means there is a hole or trough below the water and this will be a feeding / holding location for your target fish.
CUSTOMER'S COMMENT - JETTY FISHING ON THE TEXAS COAST
The Clouser's Minnow is my fly of choice for fly fishing the Texas costal waters. They catch speckled trout, Redfish, Jacks, Spanish Mackerel, Tarpon, Large Bull Red fish and King Mackerel. My favorite locations are the the north and south jetties around the entrance to Port Aransas. There are huge pink granite blocks used to construct the sea defenses and provide good stable high fishing platforms. I sharpen all my hooks the evening before and make sure the the barb is properly mashed down as catch and release is the norm.
CUSTOMER'S COMMENT - SURF FISHING IN CALIFORNIA
I fly fish the surf in my local Southern California waters and sometimes use Crazy Charlies along with Clousers Minnows (red & white + chartreuse & white) and other local patterns. We mainly catch California Halibut, Yellowfin, Spotfin Croakers, Corbina and Surf Pearch. Occasionally we catch something bigger like guitar fish and Leapard Sharks. Most of us fish with 6 or 7 wt rods, some with 8 wts. We don't need the heavy rods so much for strength in handling fish as for the capability of casting heavy flies. however when you have a five foot long shark pulling through the surf, its nice to have a bigger rod with a wide spool that has a big bunch of backing
Bernie Fink, California
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