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The Clouser

The Clouser: Lefty Kreh said that he had caught 87 varieties of fish on the Clouser

Bob Clouser invented the fly as a further development of the traditional American bucktail streamers, but it was actually Lefty Kreh who named the fly.  

By Skip Clement and video Tim Flagler of Tightline Videos

Bob Clouser in his fly shop.

The Clouser is one of the classic flies that has proven it gets eaten in freshwater, saltwater, and the brackish tidewater marshes of our coastlines as well as South Florida’s network of cross-state canals.

Bob Clouser’s Minnow [Clouser Deep Minnow] – in any one of its bewildering series of pattern adaptations, teases everything from bonefish to pike, stripers to largemouth bass, and salmons to tarpon and trouts into an eat.

Like many of the more modern classics, it is elementary to tie in its original build, as shown below in a video. I don’t think too many serious fly fishers leave home without a few Clouser-like flies in their go-to fly box.

How did the Clouser come to be?

In the 1980s, Tom Shmuecker of the Wapsi Fly Company and Bob Clouser wanted to get their streamers to run deeper in the water, but for different reasons. Tom wanted to have his streamer swim deeper or trout and Bob for smallmouth bass.

Schmueker had been tediously adding lead to the plentifully available hollow bead chain eyes he was experimenting with but found were too light. Adding lead to the inside of the hollow beads proved useful but ridiculously time-consuming. To make adding weight practical, he developed a mold to cast lead dumbbell-shaped eyes. That allowed tying onto the back of a hook shank.

Clouser said:

“That was a game-changer, and from those lead eyes came the Clouser Minnow. I developed the Minnow pattern in 1987, to target smallmouth bass on Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River. My main goal in designing that type of fly was to mimic the movement of an escaping baitfish.

The large lead eyes don’t look like anything you’d see on a baitfish. However, what they do is sink, and when the fly is retrieved, it rises and darts forward. And when the stripping stops, it drops, then darts side to side. It never stops moving – a constant motion seen in few other streamer patterns.”



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