Fly Fishers' Republic

Whitlock’s Mouserat

July 21, 2009

by Raif Killips

Whitlock’s Mouserat



In the first instance Dave Whitlock’s Mouserat was developed for largemouth bass. Amongst categories of bass flies this is known as a slider. As well as working for largemouth, Whitlock’s mouse pattern is effective for pike, chub, and several species of trout and char. The Mouserat is sometimes used in Alaska and Kamchatca for their resident trout and char, though the Moorish mouse, Mr. Hanky, and Mercer’s Lemming are preferred by many anglers.

How to fish:

If you want the mouse to ride high all day don’t forget to treat it with a little floatant before you start fishing.

On flowing water the Mouserat should be cast upstream, upstream and across, or directly across with a downstream mend. One or two anglers will cast down and across at 45° though the behaviour this imparts to the mouse is less natural. The concept being that a small rodent will more frequently swim across or downstream than up. The mouse should be retrieved via a quick strip or pull and pause or, in the latter case, sometimes a slow drift. On ponds, lakes and reservoirs it’s a case of casting, usually to cover and structure, followed by a well judged retrieve. You should try different lengths and speed of pull, and durations of pause. Do this until you find what the fish respond to. You may also require a long pause after the initial presentation. Sometimes a retrieve without pauses, a hand over hand, roly-poly retrieve, is required.

In running water setting the hook will likely prove tricky. Setting the hook should be a ‘considered’ affair. Don’t hit the fish instantly. Pause, if only for a moment, then lift into the fish. It’s a little like hitting a strike to a downstream presentation – something to be felt and learned. Hitting the strike quick usually pulls the fly straight out the fish’s mouth.


The tie above shows a barbed stinger type hook. You might prefer to use a hook that is barbless and in some circumstances a hook having a smaller gape. These variations concern fish conservation but depend on the species to be targeted. Barbless is the way to go for all fish unless you are fishing for the pan. Trout may be protected by using a smaller gaped hook. A large gaped hook is preferable for species like pike and largemouth. If fishing to heavy cover then you may wish to add a weed guard.

The hair used to dress the top of the mouse should be fine enough at the tie in point that it doesn’t flare excessively. If you use prime spinning hair when tying the back of this fly you’ll run into ‘problems’. The underside of the body is usually intended to be lighter than the back. You can therefor stack different hair underneath. This should be a hair that is lighter in colour towards its base and flares easily. The process is what Dave Whitlock refers to as “stacking and flaring”.

Dave Whitlock originally drew eyes on his pattern using a permanent marker pen. I like adding mono eyes – even if the fish aren’t impressed they inspire a little extra confidence in me when gazing into my fly box. The whiskers are usually tied in an the eye, but again my preference is to fix them further back in a similar fashion to Chris Helm’s signature Mouse.

Further reading:

Flytyers of the Word. Vol 3. 2009, Steve Thornton, VEM Publishing, ISBN: 978-0955798825.

Hot Bass Flies Patterns & Tactics from the Experts, 2003, Deke Meyer, Frank Amato Publications, ISBN 1-57188-285-5 (softbound), ISBN 1-57188-286-3 (spiral hardbound).