by Tim Flagler

Whether fishing in salt or fresh water, having confidence in your fly is paramount to success. Having even a shred of doubt about a pattern can make a real difference; you will tend to lose focus as your mind wanders to thinking about what fly might work better. For many decades, my number one fly for catching almost all Northeast saltwater species has been a size 2/0, olive-and-white Clouser Minnow with just a hint of gold flash.

Although it is a great pattern, a standard Clouser has some issues, mainly because of the bucktail used for making the back and belly of the fly. Bucktail is a naturally tapering hair that can’t be clipped at the tips, so trimming the material to length after making the fly isn’t an option. Bucktail is not an especially durable material and the sharp teeth of a ravenous bluefish will quickly sheer it off. In addition, bucktail has a tendency to foul around the hook bend, rendering the fly all but useless.

Whether the material is natural or dyed, bucktail is uniformly colored, unlike the baitfish a Clouser Minnow is intended to represent. Bucktail is also rather opaque and doesn’t offer much shimmer or shine.

I certainly don’t mean to beat up on bucktail as a fly-tying ingredient, but it’s always worth exploring substitutions.

The Author Discovers a New Material

I recently started tying large pike, musky, and golden dorado flies using a relatively new synthetic material from a company called Squimpish Flies. Squimpish Hair is similar to craft fur, but it has some very important differences.

Squimpish Hair comes on fabric backing and in wire-core brushes. The material is available in a variety of lengths, and some is even a good deal longer than almost any craft fur; finding bucktail in similar long lengths is difficult and rather expensive. A pattern tied using longer fibers can have greater action in the water, and because the Squimpish fibers are not tapered, you can easily trim your finished flies into the shapes of baitfish.

Squimpish Hair is somewhat translucent and has a wonderful, lifelike sheen. The company offers this product in a wide range of mixed colors, resulting in very natural-looking flies. Perhaps most important, Squimpish Hair is far more durable than bucktail.

Tying this synthetic Clouser Minnow with Squimpish Hair is a little more complex than making the traditional pattern, but it is worth the extra effort. A hidden skirt made by trimming the butt-end fibers helps prevent the fibers from fouling and keeps the shape of the pattern from totally collapsing when stripping the fly through the water.

Tying a Synthetic Clouser Minnow

Detailed instructions for tying a Synthetic Clouser Minnow. This is part of a series of Tim Flagler’s collaboration with Fly Tyer Magazine. Check out his article about the fly in the Autumn 2023 issue of Fly Tyer Magazine. Recipe: Hook: 2/0 saltwater hook such as an Ahrex SA210 Bob Clouser Signature hook.