Tying the Clouser Minnow

Few flies have met with the success of the venerable clouser minnow. Initially tied in the late ’80s for Susquehanna smallmouth, it has become a staple for warmwater, saltwater and in smaller sizes even trout fisherman.

The clouser minnow is simple to tie and can be dressed slim and sparse or big and bushy. I’m not going to go into detail about the tying process, there are already plenty of videos online about that. I’d rather emphasize the tremendous versatility of this pattern. It can be tied in myriad color combinations for any species. Originally tied with bucktail, the modern selection of materials, such as arctic goat and streamer hair, for example, allows for even more possibilities. Each material adds a different set of optical characteristics. Krystal flash is my material of choice to imitate the general shine of fish scales, usually pearl because it goes with everything, but sometimes another color depending on what I’m trying to achieve. I usually stick with the original bead chain eyes since these are readily available and are cheap at places like hardware stores and big box department stores.


A 1/0 saltwater clouser tied with mackerel colors. Simple and very effective!

Cost effectiveness and ease of tying are big priorities for me. If it costs a fortune to tie and takes more than a few minutes per fly, I’m not going to tie very many. There’s nothing worse than having to hold back on where to cast for fear of loosing a costly fly that’s in short supply in your fly box. The clouser is cheap and easy to tie, making it perfect for… well, everything really. It’s ideal for beginners because you can crank them out and get the hang of tying them in short order.

One of the pitfalls of the clouser is clipping the butt ends of the bucktail too close to the eyes. Trim just behind the hook eye and wrap thread over the butts. If you cut too close to the eyes, you’ll end up with butts too short to tie down. They’ll stick up and create an odd-looking profile. Will the fish care? probably not, but at the very least it will compromise the structural integrity of your fly.

This fly is often overlooked for trout. It works well in size 6 but can be tied bigger for larger fish. Smaller sizes tied on regular trout hooks (as opposed to the usual styles like the Musatd 3407) work well for average size specimens. The first fish my wife ever caught was on a white and black clouser tied on a size 10 wet fly hook. That little trout measured 8″.

If you’ve never had a go at this classic pattern, you’re being derelict of your fishing experience. Tie up a few yourself and save your money for more complicated patterns!

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