Many fly patterns have been designed to work for a specific region. There are, however, a number of flies that cross over between fresh water and salt water. One fly that has been a crossover pattern for several years is Bob Clouser’s Clouser Minnow. The original tie was a simple combination of dyed bucktail, tied on a streamer hook. It has proven effective in salt water for redfish, snook, and bonefish. In fresh water it has caught trout, bass, and carp.
This fall, when the brown trout become aggressive and territorial on Montana streams, the Clouser can be an excellent streamer to entice these trophy fish into explosive strikes. I do suggest a few modern additions, however, such as adding nickel or lead dumbbell eyes and rubber legs.
1. Begin with white flat waxed floss, and wrap from the bend of the hook and stop at a point one-third the length of the shank from the eye.
2. Place the appropriately sized dumbbell eyes at this spot, and cross the thread in the notch on the eyes. A drop of Zap-A-Gap here helps keep the eyes from twisting.
3. Wrap three wraps at the base of the eyes, as if you were tying a parachute post, and move the floss to the back of the bend.
4. Trim a generous quantity of white calf tail longer than twice the length of the shank. Stack it in a hair stacker, and place it at the stopping point of the thread, so one-half is extending past the bend of the hook.
5. Secure this to the shank so that hair lies on top of the shank. When you get to the eye, pass the thread underneath, and make four wraps toward the eye. Trim this closely and secure any loose ends. Half hitch or whip finish and cut the floss.
6. If you have a rotary vise, turn it 180 degrees, or remove the hook and place it upside down in the jaws. Note that you will use 3/0 thread to tie in the remaining materials in front of the eyes.
7. Take Crystal Flash the length of the calf tail and tie it in so that even amounts are on each side of the hook point. I prefer a mix of pearl and red or green for a rainbow imitation and gold and pearl for a brown trout imitation.
8. Now take a length of light or dark olive, brown or black calf tail and prepare it like you did the white calf tail. Tie this in as you did the Crystal Flash, but make it extend beyond the white.
9. Trim two long strands of flashy rubber legs, such as Sili Legs or an equivalent and tie them in so they drape beyond the sides, just shorter than the length of the tail.
10. Now clip an even number of peacock herls, and tie these on top of all the materials, so that they drape back to match the tail ends, with equal amounts on each side of the hook point.
11. Whip finish the head, place Zap-A-Gap on the 3/0 thread, and finish with a light coat of Hard As Hull.
The result is an aggressive, flashy streamer that has proven effective for years in all waters for all game fish. Chase pre- and post-spawning browns with it throughout Montana and the west with rapid strips on a sink tip line without fear of the fly hanging on the bottom. The Clouser moves with the hook point up and this allows it to move quickly and keeps it out of weedbeds and rocks.
Jeff Hostetler is a full-time instructor at Gallatin College. He spends his winters riding at Bridger and the rest of the year fly fishing southwest Montana.