Fly Fishers' Republic

Clouser Deep Minnow

September 9, 2012

by Raif Killips

Clouser Deep Minnow



Designed by Bob Clouser, the Clouser Deep Minnow (or Clouser Minnow as it is commonly known) is another pattern originally developed for smallmouth bass. In several variations on the example illustrated, the pattern can be used to target a wide variety of species, in both freshwater and saltwater. It is commonly used for smallmouth, largemouth and peacock bass, wipers, pike, zander, walleye, perch, trout, catfish, carp, stripers, mackerel, bass, pollock, bonefish… you get the idea. In fact Clouser says his minnow, accepting several colour variations, has accounted for at least 86 species to date.

How to fish:

This pattern can be fished using several techniques. On rivers in the crayfish season, try Tim Holschlag’s Crayfish Hop. In a moderate flow the Clouser Minnow can be fished on the dangle, jigged about on the bottom in front of the fish to tease a strike. Alternatively, cast up and cross stream and make long fast strips interspersed with short ones; presented on a line to suit the situation (accounting for current, depth of water) offer the fly at or near the bottom. In still freshwater, brackish and saltwater a strip retrieve is standard technique.


Bob Clouser of Middletown, PA., angler, popular guide, fly tier and fly shop owner, fished several of his own hair-wing patterns in the 1980s.  In 1985 Wapsi sent him their latest tying product, lead dumbbell eyes. Later in 1987, Clouser incorporated Wapsi’s product in one of his designs. That eureka  moment saw the birth of one of the most popular flies in our sport today. The name, Clouser Deep Minnow, was coined later when Lefty Kreh touted it in a 1989 article for Fly Fisherman magazine. Anglers have subsequently shortened the name to the Clouser Minnow, and even more simply, the Clouser. This pattern emerging from the world of smallmouth fly fishing was originated in colours adapted to suit the water and fish of the Susquehana River, Pennsylvania.


Not unlike the Woolly Bugger and several other popular patterns, the Clouser Deep Minnow has spawned a vast array of variants. While sticking with the Clouser format, changes in hook design; thread colour; eyes weight and colour; wing and tail, both colour and material; can yield a pattern better suited to a particular target species and fishing scenario. Regarding the hook, a straight eye is best - A fly with a straight eye, tied on to the tippet with an open loop knot, gives the best possible action on the retrieve. One final thought: If you should choose to use synthetic materials for the wing and tail, you can tie your flies long then trim them to suit later in the field.

Further reading:

Clouser, Bob (2006). Clouser’s Flies. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books. ISBN 0-8117-0148-4.

Clouser, Bob (2007). Fly-Fishing For Smallmouth in Rivers and StreamsMechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books. ISBN 0-8117-0173-5.

Holschlag, Tim (2006). Smallmouth Fly Fishing, The Best Techniques, Flies, and Destinations. Minneapolis, MN, Smallmouth Angler Press. ISBN 0976387603.

Meyer, Deke (2003). Hot Bass Flies, Patterns and Tactics from the Experts. Portland, Oregon. Frank Amato Publications. ISBN 1-57188-286-3