How can one fly pattern be so versatile in catching fish? I was given my first Chartreuse Clouser Minnow by a local Cape Cod fisherman on the Monomoy Islands at the age of 14. We were fishing for Bluefish and Stripers in the river-like, heavy current, tidal flats surrounding the islands and this was the “go to” fly for those conditions.
Nearly twenty years has past and the Clouser still remains my “go to” fly in an entirely different setting- Haines, Alaska. I tie a diverse selection of fly patterns and love to experiment with new creations on the local rivers. However, most fishing sessions create a similar narrative- I throw a half dozen different patterns at the fish and work different sinking tips at a variety of depths for an hour and a half with little luck. Then, I finally give in to fishing the Clouser and the action is non-stop. One evening this July, after going fishless for well over 3 hours and trying eight patterns, I switched to my standard Chartreuse Clouser and landed two Dolly Varden, three Pink Salmon and a Sockeye within 45 minutes.
Is it in the eyes? Do they fool fish into thinking they are bait, or are they heavy enough to sink the fly down to the fish? Why don’t I have similar success with other patterns with the same eyes? It can’t be the color combination. I work plenty of other patterns with the familiar white over chartreuse combo.
I think it comes down to confidence. I fish a Clouser with confidence because I know it catches fish. Maybe I pause that split second longer on the swing before I lift the line knowing that fish are interested. Perhaps my subtle twitches of the line make it dance enticingly like no other fly in my box. I just don’t know.
But Humpies, Silvers, Kings, Cohos, Reds, Dogs, Grayling, Dolly Varden and Cutthroat all can’t be wrong- This fly can fish!