The fishing is usually done at night in the middle of summer as this is when the mice are abundant. All you need is a strong headlight, fly rod, a few mice flies, and a buddy willing to venture out with, and you could possibly be in for a great night’s trout fishing.
Fishing mouse patterns are pretty simple, but a few tricks can be adopted to ensure better success.
Fly Fishing Gear to Fish With a Mouse
Most mouse patterns are generally quite large; they have to imitate rodents, after all. So a heavier rod weight is recommended. The best would be a wt7 fly rod with a medium to fast action.
This type of fly rod will have enough backbone to roll the line and heavy pattern over. This rod will also allow the angler to punch a headwind and get some distance on their cast.
Check out our breakdown of the Best Fly Rods here and choose the best for you.
The fly reel is rather important for this type of fly fishing. Remember, you are casting a mouse fly around, and the only trout that will eat a mouse fly is a BIG trout.
Big trout pull hard, so you must have a fly reel with a good drag system that will hold and release the line smoothly. As an angler, the last thing you want is to lose a big brown trout because your fly reel jammed.
You can see our post here on Fly Reel Drag Systems Explained.
When you add the night fishing element, you really don’t want anything to fail.
Match the reel to the fly rod weight and spool the reel with a floating line of the same weight.
We also have a breakdown of the Best Fly Reels here.
Generally, floating lines are used for mouse fly fishing. Mouse flies all float, so nothing else is really needed.
A weight-forward line is best, and if you can get a line with a heavier head, this will help turn that large mouse fly over. Look for a ‘rocket taper’ or ‘shooting taper.’
Check out our full breakdown of the Best Fly Line for Trout here.
Tippet used for fly fish with mouse patterns should be heavier than normal for a few reasons.
The general casting zone will be close to the structure and potential hangup areas, so the heavier tippet allows the angler to break free without snapping the line.
The second reason is that most mouse fly fishing would be night fishing, so the trout won’t see the thicker tippet 2x-1x to shy away from. If you are fishing in the daytime, then lighter tippets are recommended 3x-4x.
You can check out our Fly Fishing Leader and Tippet Explained here for more information.
How to fish a mouse pattern?
The structure is where you will find big fish. Working the structure will get the trout’s attention, and if there is a fish holding in the area, chances are they will smash the mouse fly; even the picky trout give in to the structure hitting mouse flies.
With a few casts, make sure you hit or land the mouse fly near the structure, whether it’s a log or a deep eddie covered by grass from the bank. Trout will hold in these areas and prey on whatever swims by.
If the mouse fly is fished from the shore bank into the water, making a plop as it lands is even better. Many aggressive fish fall for this technique.
When casting, stopping the forward stoke mid-way will make the rod tip flex down, cutting the line’s path, which will force the fly pattern to plop in the water. This is a good tip when fishing a mouse fly.
When casting with a longer line, pulling the line to double haul cast will help roll the bigger fly patterns over. This is a great technique to practice and versatile in all aspects of fly fishing, especially when fishing with larger patterns and setups.
You can also see our post here on How to Cast a Fly Rod for a more in-depth guide.
Line placement is important on the retrieve. Keeping the fly line up and, for the most part, off the water is best, especially for those leader shy brown trout. The idea is that form below the mouse pattern is the only silhouette seen and not the heavy line leading to it.
Setting the hook
The takes or eats can be big, so make sure to strip set when you strike. Don’t do the classic trout set and lift your rod; you will miss your fish! The hookup rate is doubled when you strike this way.
Down and the swing
Working the structure from the bank or if you are on a boat and casting to the shore, the angler should always cast slightly up and allow the patterns to swing across and down before the short strips are started.
The down and swinging method is very popular on the river sections and can produce some great fish. Mice patterns should imitate the exact mouse movements, and this is why the swing works so well; no mouse can swim directly across a river without being washed down a little. Again fishing the fly as it would naturally swim is the key.
Stripping needs to be fast and varied—short stripes into long strips. Again a mouse won’t naturally hang around on the water; it’s not normal. As anglers, these are things to think about and use in the approach.
Nature has plenty of information that can be used to help in catching more fish.
Various Patterns for mouse fishing or mousing
Classic mouse pattern
Classic mouse patterns are small pieces of art. The fly tyers who spend hours at the vice sculpting these patterns truly are masters. These classic patterns are best used in the morning or low light conditions.
This is so the trout won’t have a chance to notice anything different. These flies are fished on the surface of the river with relatively fast retrieves. These flies also usually have weed guards to prevent any hookups.
Fishing in the dark has its own set of challenges, so make sure you have checked the patterns before the night trip to ensure the tails aren’t tangled and the hook eyes are clear and clean.
Gurgler mouse patterns or the Morrish mouse
The Morrish Mouse, as most refer to it, is a very popular pattern to fish with. The upturned trailing hook in the tail is what often gets the trout that gave those short strikes.
This fly pushes loads of water because of the front lip; this is a great trigger for trout and striped bass alike.
Time of day for mouse fly fishing
Dawn, dusk, and night are the best times to use mouse fly patterns when fly fishing. This is when mice are out and about, and it makes sense to use these fly patterns at these times.
These fly patterns can also be used during the day should the opportunity arise to fish the fly. It’s all about reading the water and if it’s thought that trout will fall for these fly patterns, then, by all means, give it a cast.
While the night is the preferred time to target the trout with these fly patterns, largemouth and smallmouth bass love these fly patterns throughout the day. They will very seldom turn down a mouse fly that plops past.
The mouse pattern is a very effective pattern to have in your fly box, and every trout and bass fly fisher should carry a few. While they aren’t the easiest patterns to tie, it’s always worth having a few, whether bought or self-tied.
Day or night, the mouse pattern will prove its effectiveness as a surface fly, hold onto your gear and enjoy the action.