(photo courtesy of Caddis Fly Shop – Jay Nicholas)
Stripping Streamers is an effective way to catch trout along Montana’s rivers now! One of my favorite streamers is the Clouser Minnow.
Most western fly fishermen take credit for most effective fly patterns. Ironically, a lot of the great western fly fishermen and great fly patterns came from back east. Bob Clouser of Royalton, PA designed the Clouser Minnow in 1984 to be used on smallmouth bass. The great fly fishing mentor Lefty Kreh has caught over 86 different species of fresh and saltwater fish using these simple streamers.
Water conditions in the Madison and Yellowstone are excellent for Clouser Stripping now. Big browns are especially attracted to this technique. Clouser Minnows are also deadly in the Bighorn River each spring.
Most folks that streamer fish don’t have a clue about proper technique. Their rods are elevated and they strip in short jerky motions. They also tend to swim their streamers casually. In all types of fly fishing, you are not just “Matching the Hatch”.
“Match the Behavior” of the pattern you are using. The trick is to stimulate a strike by making your streamer appear to be fleeing a hungry predator. The energy and movement you impart to your streamer tells the attacking predator it is dinner time. The predators target is the crippled or panicked prey.
When Stripping Clousers:
- Keep the rod tip down and near the water
- Use a full arm length for each stripping motion
- Don’t stop stripping until you are sure you are hooked up.
- Sharpen your hook often.
Also, think about the water you are fishing. Most baitfish are found near the bottom or structure. Use heavier Clouser Minnows in deeper water fishing and lighter ones in shallow areas. Using a small split ring or clip is a time saver when switching streamers, and also gives more action. Good quality Flourocarbon tippet is vital. This type of tippet material tends to be smaller in diameter, abrasion resistant, and ties clean and strong knots. Dispose of old tippet and trash appropriately. Flourocarbon material does not break down in the environment very quickly. Recyling is best.
Match the Size and Color to what is being served for dinner. Observe the routine size of the baitfish in the water you are fishing. I find that trashy and flashy colors that are reflective, work best.
Clouser Minnows ride with the hook up which prevents a lot of snagging. I advise that you still bring an arsenal of backups that are different colors, sizes, and weights. If you have been wanting to learn how to tie flies, the Clouser is a good place to begin.
Clouser Minnows are easy to tie. Personalize your patterns. There is a You Tube video called, “Tying a Clouser Minnow”. If you visit www.flyfisherman.com you can see great step by step instructions. If you want to simply buy some Clousers, go to www.clouserfishing.com and purchase them from the originator.
I normally Strip Clousers from a drift boat. When I fish the stream bank, I generally fish downstream. Casting upstream works also, but you need to be quick with your gear. Wearing apparel that appears as camouflage is a good idea. Good optics will also help you see the action. Cover a lot of water and be aggressive.