How to Tie the Clouser Deep Minnow: An All-Time Classic

Want to learn how to tie one of the most popular and useful flies in the world? Fly Fishing Expert Robert Levin walks you through each step!

A Clouser Deep Minnow fly is held in a grip. Its eyes are orange and the material is green and silver.

Photo by Robert Levin

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No matter whether you fly fish fresh or saltwater, this fly is a classic. Originally designed by Bob Clouser for smallmouth bass fishing on the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania, this fly has caught more fish everywhere in the world than any other. It belongs in everyone’s fly boxes and is used to fish for over 80 different species anywhere folks wet a fly line around the globe.

Watch the video below or read on for instructions on how to tie a Clouser Deep Minnow.

What You Need

Let’s gather the materials we need to tie a few of these flies.

The author's box of organized flies.

Photo by Robert Levin

Just about all versions of this fly use barbell-shaped eyes. Besides the realism the eyes provide, it is the weight we are utilizing to get and keep the fly down along the bottom. These eyes come in a vast array of color patterns, sizes, and materials. The level of detail incorporated will be reflected in the cost.

The author's sheets of hologram eyes.

Photo by Robert Levin

If you want to spend a bit more time in the build, buy unpainted ones and add 3D stick-on eyes sealed with a bit of UV coating. If you tie a bunch of these flies, that will save a bit of money.

Two strips of bucktail—one white and the other green and brown.

Bucktail. Photo by Robert Levin

The original design used bucktail and many tyers still use this material. Over time in recent years, many new synthetic materials have come onto the market that are good substitutes for bucktail. They come in a vast array of colors, textures and buoyancies. Since this is a bottom feeder attractor design, be careful not to use material that is hollow with trapped air and will want to float.

A circle of clusters of different colored faux bucktails.

Faux Bucktail

Bucktail hair can be a bit stiff and inconsistent so you may want to try tying a few Clouser minnows with some other materials. There is actually a material called Faux Bucktail. It is a pretty accurate replication of bucktail and does not have the underfur that a natural bucktail does.

A product image of Fishair samples.

Fishair

Another synthetic material available is called Fishair. It is a bit less expensive. It is also more consistent and does not have the underfur to deal with.

A product image of clusters of Krystal Flash.

Krystal Flash

For flash material, there are many choices. One of the more popular brands is Krystal Flash. One package will last a long time as very little is used on the fly.

With this pattern, you are not going to need any exotic materials and you are not limited to any exact recipe. The video demonstrates using both natural and synthetic hair and different styles of eyes. They all work well!

The eye will pull it down but it will have a tendency to drift tail up and not look right. I suggest the hooks you choose for this fly should be stainless steel. At some point, you will try saltwater fly fishing, even if this is not your usual hunt. This streamer pattern is at home in either fresh or saltwater. Now you will be ready for either.

Tying the Fly

A Clouser Deep Minnow fly is held in a grip. Its eyes are green and the material is green and silver.

Photo by Robert Levin

Tying this fly is pretty straight forward as you will see in the following steps and in the video. Since it is often bounced along a gravel or sandy bottom, it needs to be durable. So, even though the fly is relatively simple to tie, take your time to make the thread wraps snug and don’t hesitate to use some head cement or UV coating along the way to reinforce the wraps.

Let’s start the fly by attaching the thread to the hook shank about a third of the shank length down from the eye of the hook. Tie the dumbbell eyes in place at that point. Figure-eight wrap and crisscross wrap until the eyes are firmly in place. Reinforce the wraps with an adequate drop of head cement or UV glue.

Now you will gather a small clump of white bucktail hair from a tail. The correct amount to use is a personal preference. The originator of the fly suggests that these flies be tied sparsely so they remain translucent in the water which is the way small bait fish look to predators. As a starting point, use a bunch, about the diameter of a drinking straw. Holding the bunch at the tips with one hand, pull out the short undergrowth of hair with the other hand so you are only holding the longer guard hairs. Gather the bunch into a cylinder and place it on the hook shank and trim it so the overall length is about 1.5 times the length of the hook shank. Trim the bunch as shown in the video so the head will be tapered when tied in. After fastening the bunch to the hook in front of the eyes with adequate thread wraps, bring the thread to the other side of the tied-in eyes and make several wraps snuggling the bundle of hair down to the hook shank behind the tied in eyes. Bring the thread forward in front of the eyes.

Now turn the fly over or rotate the vise. You will now place several strands of flash material using the same method as you did to tie in the bundle of hair. Most tiers consider two to four strands of flash material adequate. They will be trimmed even with the tips of the bucktail. Next, you place a bundle of a contrasting color of bucktail hair on top of the hook. Use the same method to measure and fasten this bundle to the hook shank as you did with the white hair. Whip finish and apply head cement.

Finishing Your Fly

A close-up of the green fly.

Photo by Robert Levin

The color choices for this fly are endless. Chartreuse and white is one of the most popular.

Since this fly imitates the small baitfish your target species feeds on, it is prudent to find out the coloring of these baitfish in the area you are fishing. No doubt this fly has been tried in every known productive area and a popular color will have been established. Fly shops and other anglers are your best source for this information.

If you have any questions or want to get set up with a fly tying kit, reach out to a Fly Fishing Expert here on Curated. Give this fly a try! You won’t be sorry!

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Written By
Robert Levin
Robert Levin
Fly Fishing Expert
I have been an avid fisherperson since my teenage years. Caught the bug from my dad who fished exclusively with a fly rod. Not that he ever fished with a fly on that rod, he trusted the weight of the fly line as it would not break when he pulled a five foot Chain Pickerel out of the lily pads in the...
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