Clouser Minnow

~By: Lance Dean | March 31, 2015


Clouser Minnow



he first time I laid eyes on the Clouser Minnow, I wasn’t real impressed. It just seemed like a boring fly. Now that I am older, not necessarily wiser, but older, I have grown to have respect for this fly.  Not just respect for the fly and the originator Bob Clouser, but for the fact that the Clouser Minnow has withstood the test of time. Like the Adams Dry Fly, the Clouser Minnow has proven to be an effective pattern again and again.  I understand that the Adams dry fly has withstood that test for a longer period of time than the Clouser Minnow, but I feel that the Clouser Minnow has paid its dues as far as becoming a classic streamer fly. 

After laying eyes on the Clouser Minnow almost 16 years ago, I decided that the time was right to give this fly a chance. So I tied the Clouser Minnow for the very first time a few weeks ago.  After tying a dozen or so of these flies, I have to say that the Clouser Minnow did not disappoint.  From the barbell eyes to the Lateral Line of krystal flash, the Clouser Minnow not only attracts fresh and salt water fish, but it now attracts me. To me, the most attractive parts of the Clouser Minnow are the little details that make the Clouser Minnow the “Clouser Minnow”. Details like how the buck tail lays over the barbell eyes and how the amount of buck tail used on the Clouser Minnow can dramatically change its profile.

The most complicated part of tying the Clouser Minnow is deciding whether or not you are using too much or too little buck tail. There are a lot of little tricks that make this fly stand out, that you may not pick up on unless you’ve read Bob Clouser’s book, watched him tie it, or you have a great eye for detail.  A couple things to pay attention to are:
    Clouser Minnow
    Triangle shows area to not be tied down on the Clouser Minnow.
  • The head of the fly - do not wrap your thread from the front of the hook all the way to the lead eyes when you tie the buck tail in. The thread should only be wrapped from halfway between the lead eyes to the eye of the hook. Then the thread can be wrapped right up against the back of the lead eyes. (see picture to the right.)
  • When talking about the top and bottom of the Clouser Minnow remember that the Clouser Minnow swims hook point up so when one says the top of the fly they are referring to the side of the fly that has the hook point and the belly of the fly is the side without the hook point.
The Clouser Minnow, in my opinion, requires the skills of a beginner to intermediate tyer.  I see many Clouser Minnows where the buck tail on the top of the fly is tied tightly to both the front and back of the eyes and although a minor detail of the Closer Minnow, the triangular space between the back of the thread head and the front of the lead eyes is one thing that keeps it looking like an authentic baitfish and I firmly believe that the slope created by the buck tail at the head of the fly helps with its action in the water.  In my opinion the slope allows the Clouser Minnow to have smoother action than when the slope in not there.

Another reason that the Clouser Minnow requires these skills is due to the fact that it is very easy to over-do or under-do the amount of buck tail used to tie this fly. When I tie the Clouser Minnow I use a little less than half a pencil diameter of buck tail for the belly and about half a pencil diameter of buck tail for the top. The amount of buck tail used to tie this fly is completely relative to your fishing style; I am just explaining how much buck tail I use.  If you find that fishing it with more buck tail than I suggest is more effective than the amount that I suggest, than I guess you better tie it with more buck tail. My point is, use the amount of buck tail that fits your fly fishing needs.  In this article I am just explaining the most effective way “I” find to tie the Clouser Minnow.  I think I read in his book, “Clouser’s Flies: Tying and Fishing the Patterns of Bob Clouser”, Bob Clouser uses half a pencil diameter for the belly and a bit more than half a pencil diameter for the top of the fly (31-39). The important thing to remember here is not necessarily the amount of buck tail used, although you want to keep it somewhat sparse to keep the minnow profile it was intended to have, but you want to use slightly more buck tail for the top of the Clouser Minnow then for its belly.

After tying a few Clouser Minnows, I have to say that this is a fun tie.  The Clouser Minnow was simple enough to be fun and just complex enough to keep me wanting to tie more.  I tie it in many colors, but my favorite colors are blue, fl. Chartreuse, fl. orange, pink with white bellies and olive with a tan or a cream belly.

Clouser Minnow
Blue and White Clouser Minnow
Bob Clouser’s, Clouser Minnow is a classic fly that utilizes intricate details that create its look and also its action.  Bob did a wonderful job creating this fly. To find out more about the Clouser Minnow and more of Bob Clouser’s fly read his book. His book can be found here.

Please enjoy the video tutorial I did of the Clouser Minnow and please feel free to leave any tips or tricks that you have found while tying the Clouser Minnow.


What species of fish have you caught on the Clouser? Leave your answer in the comments section below. Let's see how many different species of fish have been caught with a Clouser Minnow.

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    • Clouser, Bob. Clouser's Flies Tying and Fishing the Fly Patterns of Bob Clouser. Pennsylvania: Staackpole Books, 2006

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