Q and A

Q. How full do you tie clousers, deceivers, or other favorite baitfish patterns?

A. From full-on bushy to extremely sparse, depending on what I am trying to imitate. When I lived in Massachusetts and fished on Cape Cod, I tied a lot of sparse flies to imitate the long and slender sand eels that make up a good part of the striper diet. During my time there, I learned to tie layered, multi-hued, sparse flies to imitate sand eels. Depending on water depth and where the stripers were feeding (bottom, mid-water, surface), I used lead-eye clousers, beadchain clousers, or deceivers or blond-type streamers.

My shrimp patterns (many of which are variations on the clouser theme) tend to be rather slender. If I am tying to imitate some of the herrings that have a high body profile, I often use the hi-tie style to give the fly a high profile. But I don't use much material - the fly has to look big without casting big. I want the fly to imply fullness when in the water, but a sparsely tied fly will be easier to cast. When tying flies to imitate bottom-dwelling fish like blennies, gobies, and toadfish, I often palmer material (hackle, dubbing, wool, etc) around the hook shank to give the impression of the round body profile of these prey.

In general, be sparse with materials. I think that many beginning tiers tend to use too much material on their flies.