Bob Clouser Made his mark fly fishing for Smallmouth Bass

A faction of eastern fly fishers who hang their hats on smallmouth bass cling to a small set of heroes. One of which is Bob Clouser. Most recognize Bob as the inventor of the ever famous Clouser Minnow. He is also an expert fly fishing instructor, guide, and author of countless articles and books on the sport of fly fishing. 

Bob Clouser is not your typical fly fishing expert. He’s not a famed trout guide from the Rocky Mountains who has not spent years drifting the 100-mile riffle of the Madison or leading adventures to opposite ends of the earth in search of monster trout. Bob has made his mark on the sport of fly fishing by staying true to what he loves, Pennsylvania and smallmouth bass. 

When Bob was 14, his father bought him a gift. Little did Mr. Clouser know, his simple gift would eventually lead to immortalizing the Clouser family name in certain angling circles. The fly tying kit Mr. Clouser picked up for his son not only changed Bob’s life forever, but it changed the look of fly boxes across the world. 

Fly fishing is art. And a huge part of the art is the creation of hand tied flies. Very rarely, a new fly is tied that changes the game. I doubt if Bob sat back after tying his first Clouser Minnow and realized how extradordinary his fly would become, but time has now erased all doubt. Since Bob tied the first Clouser Minnow in 1985, he and others have proven its value across the globe. 

For those of you who are not familiar with the Clouser Minnow, it is a type of fly referred to as a “streamer”, which are meant to imitate bait fish. Streamers are usually pulled through the water by stripping the line back towards the fisherman. Clouser states fly fishing icon Lefty Kreh caught 86 species of fish on the Clouser Minnow. I asked Bob about his good friend and fellow fly fisherman, Lefty Kreh, and he replied, “Lefty and I were great friends for a long time. We fished together for years. What I don’t understand though, is how he always caught the biggest fish. There must have been something he wasn’t telling me.” 

Bob Clouser’s big break may have come with the creation of his Clouser Minnow, but he hasn’t been resting on his laurels since. Bob has continued to guide, instruct fly tying and casting, speak at events, and write for decades. His two books are already becoming collector’s items. Clouser’s Flies and Fly-Fishing for Smallmouth in Rivers and Streams are both books every serious fly fisherman should take the time to explore. Fly-Fishing for Smallmouth in Rivers and Streams is a must read for anyone in the Midwest who thinks fly fishing is a western sport. Both of his books are available at most fly shops and online. 

Bob Clouser has played an instrumental role in opening the door of fly fishing to many of us who live nowhere near a trout stream. Although his travels have taken him around the globe in pursuit of countless species of fish, his love of fly fishing for smallmouth bass has never diminished. “I hope my last trip is for smallmouth on the Susquehanna River,” Bob assured me. If you’re ever in the Middletown, Pennsylvania area, stop by and visit with Bob and the crew at Clouser’s Fly Shop. It should be an experience to remember. 

Too many have never considered the possibility of fly fishing right here in the Heartland of America. Our local rivers, creeks, and streams may not paint a picture as breathtakingly beautiful as the Missouri River in Montana or the Henry’s Fork in Idaho, but the waterways around here are full of fish, and its fish we are after. 

See you down the trial…
Brandon Butler

Pic: Bob Clouser instructs on how to tie his famous Clouser Minnow.  

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