How to Tie a Clouser Minnow: Step-by-Step Guide and Tips

Originally called the Clouser Deep Minnow and developed by Bob Clouser, a Royalton, Pennsylvania fly shop owner and fly fishing guide, in 1987. Tied by Bob Clouser but named by his close fly-tying friend and angler legendary Lefty Kreh.

Bob tied the Clouser Minnow to target smallmouth bass in North America. The pattern has since gotten global recognition not only as a great freshwater fly but an amazing saltwater pattern.

The Clouser Minnow has been recorded catching over 100 different species around the world, and if that isn’t a worthy note to have a few in your fly box, then I’m not sure what is. Tying the Clouser minnow, or as we know it, the Clouser deep minnow doesn’t take many materials.

It’s a straightforward approach to tying the Clouser Minnow fly pattern. The Clouser minnow basically consists of lead eyes or tungsten dumbbell eyes, bucktail flash, and white bucktail. The fly rides upsidedown with the hook point facing upwards. The lead eyes allow the pattern to sink quickly, giving the fly the jig movement on the drop.

Tying the Clouser Minnow is quick and very easy; a few key points are worth learning, but once you have those dialed, you are good to go fly fishing.

Tying a Clouser Minnow

  1. Place hook in the vise and start the thread base.
  2. Tie in the eyes and apply glue to secure.
  3. Tie in the tail
  4. Wrap body chenille forward and around the eyes.
  5. Invert pattern
  6. Tie in the two colors of bucktail, finishing with the same color as the body.
  7. Build thread head and apply head cement.
how to tie a clouser minnow fly
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Materials for Clouser Minnow Fly

Here’s what you’ll need to tie this Minnow fly pattern:

  • Hook: Saltwater hook in sizes 2 – 8
  • Thread: White UTC 3/0 thread
  • Eyes: Lead or tungsten dumbbell eyes
  • Belly: White bucktail
  • Flash: Krystal flash – gold or pearl
  • Back: Olive bucktail
  • Head: Tying thread and head cement or epoxy

How To Tie A Clouser Minnow Fly Step-by-Step

how to tie a clouser minnow fly step 1

Lock your hook in the vise, making sure it is secure and not too close to the tip of the jaws, as the hook may slip when you apply tension to it. This is especially important when tying a larger fly because they tend to slip easier than smaller ones.

how to tie a clouser minnow fly step 2

Start with a good thread base down the length of the shank.

how to tie a clouser minnow fly step 3

When tying in the eyes, apply some extra tension to the wraps so that they remain secure. Secure them in 3-4mm behind the eye, making sure you keep enough room for the bucktail to be tied in. You can apply a drop of super glue to secure them to the shank properly.

how to tie a clouser minnow fly step 4
how to tie a clouser minnow fly step 5

Cut a bunch of bucktail off and put it through the hair stacker. Tie in the tail and tie up the tag end to behind the eyes and cut off. This gives bulk to the body.

how to tie a clouser minnow fly step 6

Next, tie in the crystal chenille and wrap it forward, making sure to cover the thread around the eyes as well. Finish with the thread in front of the eyes. Turn the Clouser minnow fly upside down.

how to tie a clouser minnow fly step 7

Cut off a piece of pink bucktail to tie in first. When tying the Clouser Minnow, I always use the chosen color first, then the white to finish, it’s my preferred way, but you can do what works for you. Tie in the pink securely, making sure not to tie in too much hair as you want a sparse-looking fly, and this will make the fly pattern too bulky. Generally, in fly fishing, I like a slender, sparse-looking fly pattern.

When tying the Clouser, this is often the stage that most novice tyers get wrong. You want the hair to stay on top of the shank and not roll around or splay out. This is best achieved by applying 2-3 loose wraps, then holding down the hair and applying tension, ensuring the thread grips the hair on top.

Apply the white over the pink again, not too much, and make sure it’s on top of the pink stack. It’s at this step that you can add some Krystal flash if you want. It is at this stage that you make sure your wraps are tight and strands are secure.

Taking your time here, wrap and cover the bucktail tag ends and, in doing so, build up a proportionate thread head. Don’t let the thread slip in any way and finish off with a whip finish.

how to tie a clouser minnow fly step 8
how to tie a clouser minnow fly step 9

Apply head cement and allow to dry

How to fish the Clouser Minnow

The Clouser Minnow pattern is fished very similarly around the globe. In freshwater for smallmouth bass or saltwater for bonefish, the action stays the same. Short quick retrieves or long slow ones with a pause in between. The fish will often take the fly on the drop, so be ready for that hit.

Whichever way you choose to fish this fly, salt, river, or still waters, it will catch fish. The white bucktail versions are always good to start with and see how it goes from there.

Happy fishing.


How do you fish a Clouser Minnow?

The Clouser Minnow is a versatile fly that can be used for many different types of fish. To fish a Clouser Minnow, cast it close to the shore or within casting distance of any structure that fish may be hiding around.

Allow the fly to sink, then retrieve it with a slow, steady retrieve. During the retrieve, make sure to stop occasionally, allowing the fly to sink. This will help it appear more natural to the fish.

What does a Clouser Minnow imitate?

The Clouser Minnow is designed to imitate various baitfish. It can mimic small shad, minnows, sculpins, and other small fish that larger predatory fish may prey on. The bright colors and flashy materials used in the fly give it an attractive appearance that will draw in the attention of hungry fish.

What do you need to tie a Clouser Minnow?

To tie a Clouser Minnow, you will need the following materials: a hook (preferably an Aberdeen or similar hook size 8-4/0), lead eyes or bead chain eyes, thread, chenille, marabou, and a few strands of flash material.

You will also need a pair of scissors, a vice and a bobbin holder. Once you have all of these materials, you can begin tying the Clouser Minnow.

What do Clouser minnows catch?

The Clouser Minnow is an effective fly for catching a variety of species. It is most commonly used for bass and panfish, but it can also be effective for targeting trout, redfish, pike, and other gamefish.

Do Clouser minnows work on trout?

Yes, Clouser Minnows are an effective fly for catching trout. The bright colors and flashy materials used in the fly make it an attractive lure for trout. Trout can be caught on Clouser Minnows fished on the surface or near the bottom, depending on the type of water and the time of year.

What kind of flies do bass like?

One of the best flies for striped bass, largemouth, and smallmouth is the Clouser Deep Minnow fly pattern. Other Best Bass Flies include the wooly bugger, Softshell Crayfish, and the Fathead Diver.

How do you tie for trout?

You can tie a pattern for trout fly fishing to lure the fish out. Here’s how to tie one for trout. Just follow the steps in the video above and you’ll soon have your own pattern ready to go.

how to tie a clouser minnow fly

The Wrap Up

The Clouser Minnow is a popular fly among fly anglers worldwide, and for good reason. It’s versatile, flashy, imitates baitfish perfectly, and will catch you all sorts of fish! This pattern is a must-have for any angler, whether you fish inland or in saltwater.

Now you know everything there is to know about the Clouser Minnow! The next step is to have a go at fly tying for yourself and make your own minnow fly. Just grab a hook and the other materials and follow along with the steps in the video above, and you’ll soon be an expert fly tier.

Don’t forget to share this article on Facebook or Twitter if you found it helpful. Check out our wide range of fly pattern guides at Fly Fisher Pro!

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Kyle Knight

I’m a South African based fly fisherman who has been fly fishing and tying for the past 20 years. I enjoy targeting numerous fresh water species ranging from trout, carp and bass as well as our estuary species Grunter, Garrick and Kob. I have a funny thing that I can only use flies I have tied myself to catch fish.

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