9 must-have summer bass flies (including some you’ve never heard of)


Photos: Rio Products


Known all over the world as simply a “Clouser,“ this pattern shows up in almost every list of must-have flies for a good reason: it’s a must-have fly, and the first truly effective one for fishing deeper water. When drifted or swung in current or retrieved in still water, the dumbbell weight sinks the Clouser quickly, and creates a unique darting, jigging motion. Meanwhile, the bucktail flows and breathes, while still maintaining its profile.

The Clouser will catch dozens of fresh- and saltwater species, but it was specifically created to catch smallmouth bass in Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River. Four decades later, it’s still a hall-of-fame bass pattern. I have Clousers in colours ranging from pink to black, but for northern bass, especially smallmouths, I love the crayfish-goby-sculpin colour scheme (pictured in the top right). The pictured flies are also tied bushy for use in rivers, where the flowing water animates the bucktail. For still water, I tie mine 50 per cent sparser, so the fibres move more. If I had to pick just one bass pattern, I’d take a handful of two-inch brown Clousers, plus some bigger ones, in chartreuse/white or grey/white, and be confident of catching fish anywhere in Canada.


  • Hook: Straight-eyed wet fly or saltwater, sizes 2/0 to 8
  • Eyes: Lead dumbbell
  • Belly: Yellow bucktail
  • Wing: Natural brown or dyed bucktail, over 6 to 8 strands of Krystal Flash