The Clouser minnow

article by Bill Byrd

Just about anybody who fishes a fly by now has heard about and probably fished a Clouser minnow. The SE Regional reports that I receive from guides all over the southeast USA include recommendations for using the Clouser minnow to catch a host of fish species. In 1998 at the time of my original interview with Bob Clouser, Lefty Kreh had caught over 83 fish species on the Clouser minnow worldwide so its universal appeal has been proven many times over. You know the fly, now here's a brief history of the Clouser minnow.


Bob Clouser (left photographed by King Montgomery) is a long time high profile smallmouth bass guide and innovative fly tier. He guides and fishes the Susquehanna River near his home in Middletown, Pennsylvania. In the 1980s, he began tying his early four to five inch long in-line lead wrapped streamers to attract smallmouths in the Susquehanna's two to four foot deep waters. Bob related "all of my flies were designed with smallmouth bass in mind. My main goal in designing that type of fly was to mimmick the movement of an escaping baitfish. The eyes themselves don't do it, it is locating the weight that makes the fly move all the time. When you retrieve the fly it rises, and when you pause, the fly darts off to the side or drops down. It never stops moving."

Bob further explained "I used to tie pretty close to the same bucktail streamer with quite a bit of lead wrapped on the hook. I never covered the lead and eye appeal wasn't very good, but it caught plenty of fish to suit me. When I saw these barbell eyes that Wapsi fly company sent me, I knew that I could use the barbell eyes to aesthetically complete the fly. I painted them to look like eyes and the fly was complete."

The Clouser minnow (right, Bill Byrd photo) was commercially tied by Umpqua feather merchants. There are many color schemes available for Bob's famous minnow available from fly fishing shops almost everywhere. They are fished for MOST species caught on the fly.

Take some Clouser minnows fishing with you soon!


For information on Bob Clouser's flies, books, tapes, call his fly shop at 717-944-7910 .