Clouser’s Swimming Nymph Step-by-Step

Clouser’s Swimming Nymph Step-by-Step:

While researching patterns ahead of my inaugural foray into carp on the fly, it was evident the majority of patterns were designed on a similar premise: create a fly on a short, stout hook weighted with bead chain or lead eyes that would sit tail/hook up in the sediment. Given the common carp’s reputation as bottom feeders, it was easy to see the logic in this, and I eagerly jotted notes in preparation of tying a series of flies that fit this mold.

As I continued to read, however, a single exception to this rule continued to pop up in list after list: Bob Clouser‘s Swimming Nymph.

Originally designed for targeting smallmouth on Clouser’s home water, the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania, the pattern allows for an active retrieve in contrast to the majority of “sit and wait” carp patterns fitting the description above. In spite of this, or rather due to this, it has proven an effective mimic of a variety of carp favorites (crayfish and dragonfly nymphs among them). And, as a result, the pattern has quickly risen among the ranks of “Go To” flies for the carp fishing community.

Tiemco 200R(Size 8-10) 70 Denier (Orange or Rust)Materials Rabbit Strip/Flash (Crawfish/Gold)
Materials Dubbing (Rust or Crawfish)Materials Dubbing (Rust or Crawfish)Materials Peacock Herl
Materials Hen Hackle (Crawfish or Brown)Materials 0.15″ Diameter Lead-free Wire

Step-by-Step Tying Instructions:

(Mobile Viewers: Click images to enlarge)

Tips and Tricks

  1. Weight is Optional – As tied by Clouser, this pattern includes a core of lead-free wire wraps beneath the abdomen and thorax. This is likely a necessity when fishing moving water. However, consider tying a few without the lead-free core if fishing stillwater. While the fly may not sink immediately if the tail is not saturated, the slower sink-rate once it does will come in handy when fishing over shallow, weedy flats.
  2. Color selection – Tied as shown (Rust/Orange), the fly is an excellent crayfish mimic. If damsel, dragonfly or other large nymphs are on the menu consider experimenting with olive, brown or black variations of this fly.

Proof of Concept

On the same morning I tallied my first ever common carp on a Carp Hybrid Fly, I also had the opportunity to put Clouser’s swimming minnow to the test.

Approaching a large mud flat bordered on the near side by a 20 ft wide swath of algae and submerged vegetation, I spotted a lone carp cruising some 40 ft from shore. Significantly larger than my earlier catch, the fish was actively feeding, and I took a moment to observe before making my next move.

Swapping the aforementioned Carp Hybrid fly for a crawfish-colored Swimming Nymph, I stripped 40 ft of line from my real and fired off a cast in the fish’s direction. Off the mark, I hauled in line and cast again.

This time my nymph fell within 3 ft of my target, and, after allowing the fly to sink, I began retrieving my line with a series of slow, short strips. To my surprise, the large fish turned, raised its head and inhaled my fly.

The large fish took off like a freight train, putting significant bend into my 7-wt rod before finally surrendering after a 5+ minute battle.

Sadly the GoPro screen grab to the right is as close as I came to photographing the beast as the hook dislodged as I attempted to clear the large fish of weeds upon landing. Still, the take and battle are proof enough as to why this fly remains so high on many carp anglers’ Top 10 lists.

Tight Lines!


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