Tying the Clouser Minnow

Bob Clouser at Conclave 2007

Bill Carnazzo


At this year’s 2007 FFF Conclave I attended Bob Clouser’s small group presentation on the proper way to tie a Clouser Minnow. Following are the instructions that Bob gave us.



Hook                S71SS, or Mustad 3407 (need to sharpen this hook), down to #6

Thread             Light yellow 6/0 thread

Eyes                 Dumb bell eyes

Belly                 White bucktail

Flash                Pearl flashabou

Overwing         Chartreuse (or other color) bucktail

Head                Thread, with 5 minute epoxy

Glue                  “Fishin Glue”     (used to glue rubber worms to hooks)—Or, you can use super-glue


Tying Instructions


1. Tying on the eyes.  At the 1/3 point on the shank behind the hook eye, tie on the thread with the usual jam knot. Just behind these thread wraps, tie the eyes on the top of the hook. Use X-wraps—not figure-8 wraps. To straighten out the eyes after tying them on, alternate your X-wraps; this will have the effect of pulling the eyes back into proper alignment. After finishing with the X-wraps (about a dozen in each direction), wrap beneath the eyes, between them and the top of the hook. This has the effect of pulling together all of the X-wraps and cinching them down tight. Apply glue to the underside of the hook to secure the wraps.


2. Tying on the white belly.  Advance the thread to the hook eye with spiral wraps—not tightly spaced wraps, and then wrap back to a point ½ way between the hook eye and the eyes. Here are Bob’s guidelines for selecting good buck tail, cutting it off the hide, cleaning it, and tying it on:

  • Use only the topmost part of the tail; this is where the hair is softest (and softness is what you want because it imparts more motion). The soft hair is not hollow and will not flare.

  • It does not matter if the hair is kinky or straight, as long as it is soft.

  • Doe tails are better than those from a buck (hmm-m-m-m-m—true in other areas also, I suppose)

  • When cutting the hair off the hide, grab the bundle by the tips, pull downward, and cut at the same time; this has the effect of making all of the longer hairs go to the middle, and the shorter ones to the outside.

  • Grab the tips and clean out under-fur and “shorts.”

  • Measure the cleaned bunch of hair to 2 ½ times the length of the hook; the bunch should be no larger than the size of a large toothpick.

  • When you have measured the hair to length, trim the butts before tying it on the hook

  • Place the trimmed butts just ahead of where you left the thread, as specified above. Tie them down with a loose wrap and then pull the thread up on your side of the hook. This will place the hair directly on top of the hook. Take a few more wraps to secure the hair in place. If you’ve done it right, it will take very few wraps.

  • Pull the hair back toward the bend but not down to the shank. Using the same loose-wrap procedure as in the previous bullet, secure the hair with 2 or 3 wraps behind the eyes and then spiral wrap back to mid-shank and then back to eyes. Spiral wraps are widely spaced going both ways.


3. Tying on the flash.  Rotate the hook so that the eyes are on the bottom (this is how the fly will ride). Advance the thread to a point just behind the hook eye. Take 13 or 14 strands and double them around the thread. Tie the flash down and wrap back to a point behind the eyes. Part the flash equally on both sides of the hook point. Trim it longer than the buck tail (about ½ to ¾ “ longer)—this adds more movement and gives the fly a “flash tail” look.


4. Tying on the “back”.  The white belly on a bait fish is smaller than the back; i.e., most of the baitfish is darker. Therefore, use a little more hair for the back (not a lot more, just a small increment). The length should be the same length as the belly, so as to not interfere with the flash’s movement. Cut and measure a bunch of the chartreuse buck tail. Trim the butts and lay them on the shank just a bit on your side of the hook. Use the “45-degree” technique to make the hair roll up on top. The tie-in point is the same as the belly. Keep all of the dark hair on top.


5. Forming the head.  To form the head, wrap forward from the eyes to the eye of the hook. The head should not be too large. Coat the head with a thin coat of epoxy.


Copyright 2006 by Granite Bay Flycasters unless otherwise noted