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Clouser's Flies

Reviewed by Joseph D. Cornwall


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Fresh from the inimitable Stackpole Books, this near flawless hardcover (ISBN 978-0-8117-0148-8) is copyright 2006.  It was twenty years ago today, when Bobby Clouser taught us all to play. Clouser's Flies is an homage to a fly pattern born of ideas and observations begun in the cold war era, but brought to fruition in 1986 with the commercial introduction of the Wapsi lead barbell-shaped eyes.  Before this if you wanted a deeper fly you used splitshot.


When monstrous talents like Bob Clouser, Lefty Kreh and Bob Popovics are all pictured holding bragging-sized gamesters attributed to a small selection of simple patterns, I pay immediate attention.  I've always liked simple, impressionistic, aesthetically proportioned creations; they add to the enjoyment of fly tying as well as fishing.  This book absolutely epitomizes that philosophy!


One of the better chapters is Chapter 9, The Purple Darter.  In truth, Clouser has a full line of darter imitations explained.  In the accompanying image he even shows some of his favorite variations.


"Freshwater darters are an overlooked and under-imitated baitfish species.  As a group, the darters are the most colorful of the freshwater baitfish species, and the males in their brilliant spawning colors rival any aquarium fish.  Darters are members of the perch family.  According to The American Darters,. more than 140 species dwell in the waters of North America.  They are not found i the extreme northeastern United States, eastern Canada, and the waters west of the Continental Divide except where they have been introduced.  Pennsylvania has at least twenty-one species."


Darters are, indeed, a critical baitfish.  Most of the small to medium creeks of the heartland feature darters at a ration of about 1000 to 1 to sculpins.  Darters and Madtoms make up most of the early season diet of smallmouth, channel catfish, spotted bass and many others.  You've got to love Clouser's response.  He fields a simply tied but wonderfully imitative line of Deep Minnows tied with calf tail and Flashabou or Krystal Flash.  In fact, he gives no less than fourteen dressings to imitate baitfish throughout the season and  in creeks and rivers near you!


There are dozens of great patterns shown in this book.  Patterns for fresh and salt water.  Patterns for the top, middle and bottom of the water column.  Each section provides detailed tying instructions with amazingly clear, color photos of each sequence in the construction process.  Clouser also shares tips and tricks for getting proportions correct and for making tougher, longer lasting flies. 


The Suspender is a brand new fly that Bob Clouser introduces in this book.  Keep your eyes on this one.  I'm already experimenting with this pattern for the white bass and hybrid stripers of the Ohio River.  I'll bet its a killer for the outsized brown trout that stack up below the dam on the Cumberland River to feed on winter-stunned shad and alewives.  The Suspender is a neutral buoyancy baitfish that is just begging to be fished on a sinking line to fat, lazy trophies. 


Clouser's Flies, Tying and Fishing the Fly  Patterns of Bob Clouser is highly recommended.  It's a great resource for experienced fly fishers and new comers alike. 


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