Saltwater Fly Fishing In The United Kingdom

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 Universal Flies / Clouser

Within all areas of fly fishing and fly tying there are numerous patterns that are very area specific as well as being size, style and color specific. These flies can only be used in certain areas under specific conditions.

At the other end there are flies that can be classified as "Universal" because they are not limited to any specific area, size, color or condition.

With the above in mind, we are going to take a look at some of the various saltwater flies that can be used worldwide.

Numerous flies that are used in the "Salt" were originally designed or tied for use in fresh water and somewhere along the line; someone tied these flies specifically for use in the "Salt". About the best example of this that I can find is a fly called "The Seducer". The Seducer is nothing more than a fly that has a long hackle tail and a body of palmered hackle.

In the late 1800's this fly was called "The Hackle Fly" and was used for river fishing for bass. This fly has since been adapted to saltwater use by changing both the colors and sizes of this fly style.

Other flies such as the "Deceiver, Surf Candy and numerous shrimp and crab patters were designed exclusively for use in the "Salt" but can be adapted to use in fresh water with a little thought.

While there are differences throughout the world with what most predatory saltwater fish eat, one thing remains the same and that is that these fish eat other fish, shrimp and/or crabs. While the size, shape, coloration and habits of these food sources differ, we, as fly tiers, can take a pattern or style of tying that is used in one part of the world and by making small, if any changes, to the actual pattern or style of tying can adapt this fly to where we are located.

Other flies such as the "Deceiver, Surf Candy and numerous shrimp and crab patters were designed exclusively for use in the "Salt" but can be adapted to use in fresh water with a little thought.

We will over the series of articles that I will write take a look at some of these patterns. We will start with simple, easy to tie patterns and progress to some of the more complicated patterns that can be adapted to your area.

One of the best known of these flies is the Clouser Minnow. Bob Clouser originally designed this simple baitfish pattern for use in the Susquehana River for fishing for small mouth bass. This pattern has since become one of the most widely used flies in the world for numerous species of fish.

While talking with Lefty Kreh a while back, he told me that he has caught over 50 different species of fish on this fly. He related a story to me about salmon fishing in Russia. He was catching more fish that the others using the traditional salmon flies and he was using a small Clouser Minnow.

This fly can be adapted to any situation and any local where the fish are feeding on baitfish. The Clouser Minnow can also be tied in attractor colors that work in your area.

By varying the size, color and weight of this fly, you can closely imitate the local baitfish where you will be fishing.

The size should match the size of the baitfish during the different times of the year. Here in the United States, we use smaller flies early in the season and use larger ones as the seasons matures. These flies will start with very small size 8 or size 6 flies at the beginning and work their way up to a size 1/0, 2/0 or even 4/0 as the season progresses.

You can tie this fly in common colors of baitfish with any dark color over a lighter bottom to make a simple baitfish imitation to getting very specific and tying in various colors to more closely represent the baitfish you are trying to imitate.

In the United States we use a lot of chartreuse and the chartreuse over white color of this fly is probably the most common. Other color combinations that we use are as follows;

You can tie this fly in common colors of baitfish with any dark color over a lighter bottom to make a simple baitfish imitation to getting very specific and tying in various colors to more closely represent the baitfish you are trying to imitate.

(1) Pink over white - primarily for bonefish
(2) Tan over white - primarily for bonefish
(3) All white with silver crystal flash as a Silver Minnow
(4) All White with gold crystal flash as a Gold Minnow
(5) All Black for night fishing
(6) Olive over white as a general baitfish color
(7) Green over white as a general baitfish color
(8) Blue over white as a general baitfish color
(9) Olive over tan as a general baitfish color
(10) Red over white as a general attractor color
(11) Red over yellow as a general attractor color
(12) Gray over white as a general baitfish color

In some areas, numerous colors are used and mixed to maker a fly that is more close to the actual baitfish's natural coloration. This is more area specific, so a little research is needed on your part to ascertain the proper colors you will be using.

The original Clouser Minnow was tied using buck tail. This material is still the primary material that is used but some of the synthetics are used in areas where the fish have a lot of teeth. These materials make the fly more durable and in some cases more natural in appearance.

Bar bell lead eyes were and are still used for weighting this fly and you will need to use the appropriate size eye for the hook size that you are using. This works for most situations but there are situations where you will have to use more or less weight, depending on where you are fishing, currents, fish sought and fishing conditions.

Lead eyes are slowly becoming a thing of the past because of environmental concerns and several manufacturers have come out with no toxic eyes. Some of these still require painting on the pupil and iris. Other eyes Like the Real Eyes Plus and I-Blaz are prepainted with an epoxy paint to make them more durable. My personal choice are the Deep - See and Real-Eyes from Spirit River. These eyes are no toxic and have a recess machined on each side to accommodate either a prismatic or molded 3D eye. These are much more realistic and durable than the ones that you have to paint. Even coating the eyes with epoxy does not make them more durable.

The fly is tied with the eyes on top of the hook shank so that the fly will turn upside down and make it semi weed less.

There are actually two ways to tie on the upper and lower wing. One is faster and simpler while the other is more in keeping with the original design

The original design called for the eyes to be tied on, the fly turned upside down and then the belly of the fly. The thread was then moved to behind the eyes and the belly secured with thread behind the eyes and then moved back to the front of the eyes. The fly is then turned right side up, the crystal flash added and the upper wing tied on.

A simper and easier way to tie this fly is to tie on the eyes turn the fly upside down and then tie on the belly of the fly, crystal flash and then the upper wing. All of this is done without turning the fly right side up.

Either way seems to work equally well. The way that you tie this fly is up to you.

The Clouser Minnow is a very easy to tie and extremely effective pattern. Tie some up and see how they work for you.

Here is a link to my site that shows the step by step instructions with photos on tying the

Clouser Minnow.

Clouser Minnow

In future articles we will get into some of the other patterns that can be adapted to your use in the "Salt".

Joe Branham        

Joe Branham

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