Monday, January 25, 2010

The Marabou Clouser

I found out about the "Clouserbou" on a guided trip on the Bow River in Alberta in 1999 or so. My guide told me to strip this fly as fast as possible with long, sharp strips. I was rewarded that day with a 24inch bullet of a rainbow. The following summer I spent 3 weeks floating the Bow over and over again. I would launch in the city of Calgary and float all the way to Carseland Weir in 3 to 5 days. On one trip my brother, Jake, and my dad joined me for an overnight float. I gave Jake a Clouser Minnow at the tailout of a run as I went up ahead to fish nymphs. Within a few minutes I heard a scream down below me. Jake had hooked a 4 pound Bow River rainbow and he was about to have a coronary. Jake continued to hook big fish on the Clouserbou that evening. Each time he hooked up he went through the same heart attack routine. Jake's nerves were jangled and he was having the time of his life.

Since those days on the Bow, I've used this pattern to land smallmouth bass, brown trout, rainbows, lake trout, bull trout, dolly varden, northern pike, walleye, pink salmon, and some species I've probably forgotten about. My wife caught a 24 inch brown on the Clouserbou on the Bow River just below Fish Creek.

The beauty of this fly is in its simplicity. Strap the dumbbell eyes to your hook, lash on two marabou feathers, whip finish, and go fishing. I go through dozens of Clouserbous each season. I've tied inch-long versions on size 8 or 10 hooks, and I've tied 4 inch long versions on 2/0 hooks. The dumbbell eyes I use range from very light chain beads to very heavy tungsten, depending on where I am fishing.

My favorite color combination is green over white, but I've also had success with pink over pink (for pink salmon), chartreuse over white, and brown over white. I always put the darker color on the top of the fly (the fly rides upside down), so that the lighter color looks like the belly of a bait fish. This fly slims down significantly when wet so that it looks like a delicious little minnow.

When fishing for bass, try 4 to 6 inch strips with long pauses. As the fly falls to the bottom, you may feel your line tighten.

When northern pike are hunkered down due to a cold front, try the Clouserbou. The key is to let the fly sink to the bottom. Then strip it sharply from the bottom a couple of times and let it fall. If there are pike around, you will notice a sudden change in the way your rod and line feel. Set the hook immediately.

For trout in rivers, try stripping the fly away from the bank as fast as possible with long, sharp strips. Use heavy monofilament so that the fish don't break you off on the strike.

Tie up two dozen Clouserbous, put them in your fly box, and know that you are prepared.

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