The Clouser Minnow Step-by-Step

The Clouser Minnow Step-by-Step:

It has been a few weeks since I’ve sat down at the vise with the intent of putting together a step-by-step tutorial. Life has a tendency to become distracting from time to time, and that has certainly been the case as of late. Be it work, a holiday hangover or simply the distraction of playoff football (RIP Buffalo Bills 2020 season!), I simply never found myself at the vise for long enough to put together anything worthy of sharing. That said, it has been on my mind, and a list of at least a dozen patterns graces the scratch pad to my left. Scanning through said list, and considering what is currently absent from my box, I have decided to start where I left off.

Having previously shared one of Bob Clouser’s lesser known creations, the Swimming Nymph, I’ll now be doubling back to highlight his most famed creation: The Clouser Minnow.

Lefty Knows Best

An evolution of the classic bucktail streamer, the Clouser Deep Minnow (as it was dubbed by Lefty Kreh) was designed in the late ’80s for targeting Smallmouth Bass on Clouser’s home water, the Susquehanna River. In the hands of Kreh (and countless others since), however, this simple streamer has proven to be one of the most effective patterns ever created. In Lefty’s own estimation, he had landed 63 different species on the pattern in just the three years prior to the publication of his book “The Professional’s Favorite Flies” (Vol. 2) in 1994.

A trusted favorite of Speckled Trout anglers, we’ll be tying in the classic Chartreuse over White pattern favored by fish and Clouser himself.

Gamakatsu SL11-3L3H (#6-2/0) 140 Denier (White) Lead Eyes (sized to match)
Bucktail (White) Bucktail (Chartreuse) Krystal Flash (Pearl)

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The Clouser Minnow Step-by-Step Tying Instructions:

(Mobile Viewers: Click images to enlarge or rotate to landscape)

Tips and Tricks

  1. Pulling Hairs – Clumps of bucktail will often contain hairs of differing lengths. When tying the clump in, these shorter hairs may splay out separate from the longer strands. To resolve this, grasp the bucktail by the tips and pull on the butt end with your other hand. The shorter hairs should pull free of the bunch, leaving you with only the longer more uniform fibers.
  2. Color selection – Match the hatch is always a good idea, but Clouser strongly suggests sticking with Chartreuse over White or Chartreuse over Yellow. In early tests, these were the favored colors among the majority of anglers. Clouser himself has suggested that he feels confident these two color combinations will produce 90% of the season.
  3. VOSI – The vertically Oriented Strike Indicator, or VOSI for short, is a favorite among south Louisiana Fly Fishers. Essentially a popping cork for the fly rod, the halved and hollowed perch float is said to be like a dinner bell to speckled trout. While I’ve yet to try the method myself, I’d still recommend it to anyone looking to target specks with a clouser.

Proof of Concept

Proof of concept for this of all patterns, is in large part proof that I need to take more pictures of my catches on the fly rod. While I’ve caught a number of species on this fly, particularly in Chartreuse over White, I had to scour my records back to March of 2020 to find documentation of a catch.

On that day, 3/22/20, I managed to land a single largemouth bass on a #6 Clouser tied with bead chain eyes in place of lead dumbbells. Far from a lunker, the fish still provides proof of this patterns effectiveness. At least until I can get back on the water to document a few more examples.

Tight Lines!


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2 thoughts on “The Clouser Minnow Step-by-Step

  1. Chris, Nice job. I am intrigued by the way you tied the belly in (from the back to the front). By the way, the VOSI works! Not just for specs but for warm water species like bluegill, red ears (we call ’em chinquapin) and sacalait (crappie)

    1. Thanks, musicdoc. Oddly enough, I don’t even remember when or why I began tying the belly hairs down in that manner. And I honestly can’t say whether or not there is a benefit to doing so. As for the VOSI, I’ll have to dig out the dremel and give it a try.

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