tying clousers

Discussion in 'Fly Tying' started by Scott Catlin, Feb 20, 2006.

  1. Scott Catlin

    Scott Catlin Member


    I'm headed to Manzanillo, Mexico in May and I bought a couple clousers from Creekside Angling in Issaquah to use as reference while I try to tie a couple dozen for the trip. Without photos this may be hard to follow, so bear with me. The basic issue I'm running into is that the bucktail I'm using is splaying out when I tie it in, so that rather than laying in a tight grouping it opens into a cone. The store-bought clouser seems to have bucktail that is much less coarse, so that may be part of the issue. So here's my thinking, let me know if I'm off base:

    1. The bucktail I bought at GI Joes is probably crap. I had a gift card from Christmas otherwise I wouldn't have bought from there.
    2. I'm tying the bucktail in too far up the hair and I need to shorten up the length so I tie in the less coarse ends.
    3. It's a clouser and the shape of the bucktail isnt as important as getting the colors and flash in the right arrangement , and the lead eyes wrapped tightly.

    Any thoughts are appreciated. Thanks!
    - Scott
  2. Scott Behn

    Scott Behn Active Member

    what size thread are you using?
  3. Scott Catlin

    Scott Catlin Member

    I'm not positive what size thread. I'm using poly thread that came in a no-name Cabelas 36-spool kit I got for Christmas. Would a larger or smaller thread size help keep the bucktail together? The images attached show a representation of what's going on. Image 1 shows the bucktail splayed out into a larger cone, while image 2 shows the bucktail in a tight grouping. Maybe I need finer bucktail?
  4. bigtj

    bigtj Member

    Thread tension is critical on bucktail, as is what part of the bucktail you use. The thicker-rooted bucktail on the sides is hollow, and splays instantly without much pressure at all, compared with the solid stuff on the back that won't splay no matter how much you crank on it.. Only problem is for white you've got to use the hollow-stem stuff because the hair on the back it brown. You can try starting off with several soft loops and very little thread pressure. Gradually increase pressure but don't ever use too much pressure, back off as soon as you see the stuff splay. A lot of low-pressure wraps, and some super glue, should be enough to keep the stuff from splaying and from spinning around the hook (the danger with low-pressure waraps). Also try practicing on a big hook with nothing else on it until you get the thread pressure right. Think real soft tie-in lots of wraps and it should work.


    PS nothing says you can't substitute fishair or similar synthetic that won't splay if the bucktail turns into a pain.

    PPS flat thread will work better than fine round thread. Thick thread is a no-go (heavier than 3/0) on smaller flies it builds up too fast.
  5. Randy Knapp

    Randy Knapp Active Member

  6. Banzai

    Banzai FFing and VWs...Bugs & Bugs

    Thanks for the link Randy.
  7. Scott Catlin

    Scott Catlin Member

    Awesome, thanks for the link. I'll tie a few more tonight using the techniques you guys have suggested, and using the Clouser video as reference!
  8. FT

    FT Active Member

    I suspect you are using too much (or too large a bunch) or bucktail on your Clousers. Clouser only uses about a bunch of bucktail that is a matchstick or less in diameter for each bunch of bucktail. The smaller amount of bucktail and sparser fly it results in does several things: 1) it makes for a much more translucent fly (and hence a better baitfish imitation); 2) it prevents the bucktail from forming a cone and ruining the baitfish profile; and 3) it allow the fly two swim better.

    Another thing to keep in mind when tying Clousers is to make the wraps looser (not loose, just less tight) at the rear of them next to the bucktail "wings" . By keeping the two wraps right next to the wings a tad looser, the bucktail will not flair nearly as much.
  9. Scott Catlin

    Scott Catlin Member

    One thing that I noticed from the Clouser video is that he ties in the bucktail and then wraps FORWARD toward the eye, whereas I have been tying in and wrapping toward the bend, making the bucktail splay wildly. That should help, as well as using less material. I'll post progress later.
  10. troutaholic

    troutaholic Member

    A coupla things I noticed. First your dumbell eyes seem too far forward on the shank. A couple of articles I read based on Bob Clousers input state that the fly swims better and is a little easier to tie if you position the eyes just forward of the halfway point. That may not work for you since the hook you're using seems to be on an extremely long shank for a clouser. Most Clousers seem to be tied on a 1x short or standard shank such as the mustad 3407 or 34007 or the Tiemco 811s. You could stioll use the hook but I'd move the eyes back to at 1/3 the shank length. This also allows you wrap a longer more evenly tapered head and may help prevent the flair. Also be sure and select the bucktail from near the end of the tail as it's less hollow and finer- hollow, course hair will flair at the slightest provocation. One last tip. If you grab your hair bundle by the last 25% or so of it's length and then comb out the shorter hairs and fluff you'll have less strays. :thumb: Hope this helps... good luck I love fishing and tyuing clousers and seldom use anything else in the salt...
  11. Nolan

    Nolan New Member

    New to tying clousers myself. What would a good recommended Substitute for bucktail? Especially for the bright colors.
  12. g_smolt

    g_smolt Recreational User

    FisHair, kinkyfiber, polarfiber...

    Any spun or extruded nylon product.

    IMHO, bucktail (as with most fur and feathers) is easing into obsolescence, a relict from a time when that was "all that there was" to tie with.

    The durability of artificial hair products is an order of magnitude above any natural hair, and the range and life of the colors available in artificial hair is far greater than any buck- or calf-tail could ever hope for.

    standard disclaimers...IMHO, and YMMV.

  13. sean

    sean Member

    Head out east where saltwater fishing is king and bucktail is still by far the #1 material going. It also reflects in the quality of the tails you get out here. Moving from Seattle to Rhode Island in the last 6 months I have realized the crap we had to work with in washington. This stuff is very fine and supple and rocks to work with. I find myself moving back to it from synthetics. The colors out here are something else as well. Check out the saltwateredge in Rhode Island and order one of the select bucktails. Good stuff.

  14. FT

    FT Active Member


    That is why I always buy bucktail from an easern US supplier.
  15. Tim Cottage

    Tim Cottage Formerly tbc1415

    Wow! I just looked at the bucktail from saltwateredge. Gorgeous colors.
    Thanks for the link Sean.

  16. Denny

    Denny Active Member

    I'll bet a cup of coffee that he's using hair from the middle or bottom part of the tail . . .

    The hair with the least flair (ha!) is at the tip, or basically above the mid point of the tail. Use that material and you will be amazed at the difference in flairing. The further you go down the tail, the more coarse and the more easily the hair flairs. The hair at the bottom of the tail is coarse.

    This bit of info was obtained from articles written or DVD's prepared by Mr. Bob Clouser and Mr. Bob Popovics.
  17. chadk

    chadk Be the guide...

    So when do you want hair with flair vs hair without? As in what types of fly patterns do you tend to use the hair from the lower end for?
  18. Denny

    Denny Active Member

    Simply, hair with flair characteristics when you want it to flair (duh!) and spread to form, say, a head. You want to use the low flair hair when you are using it as materials for tails and want it to 'stream'.
  19. snbrundage

    snbrundage Member


    I don't think the second clouser is tied with bucktail, is it? It looks like a synthetic to me. Anyway, I tie my clouser's with synthetics.

  20. This has been a really informative thread. I'd never paid much attention to what part of the bucktail the hair came from, but I will from now on. I've had experiences with the hair flairing. Thanks, everybody, for the suggestions for controlling this.

    About synthetic vs. natural hair, the reason I've preferred the natural variety is that it always gives the fly a much more nicely tapered profile. The wings and tails on my flies tied with synthetics usually look as if somebody took scissors to the hair and cut it straight across at the tips. Any suggestions about how to get the synthetic stuff to look more tapered, or is this not really that important?