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Fly Tying: The Bent Back Clouser Variant

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We are a group of avid fishermen: COAF Field Team. We post tips on our blog and publish articles for those who may be interested in fishing!

The Bent Back Clouser Variant

The Bent Back Clouser Variant

An Easy Pattern That Works!

The Bent Back Clouser Variant is an easy pattern that works for bass in our area.

It is similar to the Clouser Minnow, the difference being the Bent Back Clouser Variant uses:

  • A bent back hook
  • Craft fur instead of deer hair
  • A weighted keel instead of dumbbell eyes

The Bent Back Clouser Variant is fished shallower than the Clouser Minnow—just under the water's surface down to about three feet.

It can be fished deeper by using a longer countdown before starting the retrieve. Since the weighted keel weighs less than the dumbbell eye/bead chain of the Clouser Minnow, the Bent Back Clouser Variant sinks slower in comparison.

Do give this one a try when you get a chance, and let us know how it worked for you via the comments section at the end of this article.


The following is the material list for the Bent Back Clouser Variant:

  1. Craft Fur (Olive and Chartreuse)
  2. Sparkle Braid (Olive/Pearl)
  3. Pearl Flashabou
  4. 2/0 Gamakatsu Hook
  5. Lead Wire (or equivalent)
  6. Olive Tying Thread Bobbin
  7. Whip Finish Tool (or old school it with hands)
  8. Scissors
  9. Vise Grip or Pliers
  10. Super Glue
  11. Head Cement (Hard-As-Nails works, too)

Look at the images for more details on the materials used. Also, in the fly tying video at the bottom, we reference the Sparkle Braid as "flashy chenille." Search on Sparkle Braid to locate a seller of the material. For the 2/0 Gamakatsu Hook, we used the SC15 Saltwater Series Wide Gap model as listed below.

Step 1: Bending the Hook

The first step calls for bending the hook as follows:

  • Secure the hook in the Vice Grip, setting the jaws about one hook eye length back from the hook's eye.
  • Next, bend the hook shank back as noted in the second picture. Be careful of the hook's point. Also, if more leverage is needed, use another plier to assist in the bending.
  • For an idea of how much to bend the hook shank, see the last picture that compares two hooks—one that is bent and one in its original form.

Note: The bending of the hook appears to improve the hookup rate when setting the hook when a fish strikes!

Step 2: Build the Weighted Keel

The next step is to build the weighted keel as follows:

  • Lay a thread base on the hook shank.
  • Attach the lead wire—approximately a hook shank and half in length, on the top of the hook shank and secure it with thread, stopping just past the hook bend.
  • Next, bend the lead wire on to itself, ensuring the lead wire remains on the top of the hook shank and secure with thread.
  • Apply Super Glue and secure with thread, stopping the thread at the hook bend. Let glue dry and then proceed to the next step.

Step 3: Wrapping the Underbody

For Step 3, the hook is wrapped with Sparkle Braid to form the underbody as follows:

  • Attach the Sparkle Braid to the hook, secure it with thread, and then wrap the thread to the front—towards the hook eye.
  • Stop wrapping the thread just past the bend back formed in Step 1. Hold the thread in place using a half-hitch.
  • Then, begin wrapping the Sparkle Braid along the hook shank, making sure to cover the weighted keel in the process.
  • Stop wrapping the Sparkle Braid at the bend back, secure it in place using two thread wraps,
  • And then, cut the Sparkle Braid, secure with several more thread wraps, and apply a half-hitch if desired.

With the underbody in place, proceed to Step 4 below.

Step 4: Building the Body

In Step 4, begin building the Bent Back Clouser Variant's body as follows:

  • Remove the hook from the fly tying vice, flip it over, and then secure it to the vice at a point above the underbody. The hook should sit level in the "swimming" position.
  • Then, using a sparse amount of chartreuse craft fur—approximately 1-1/2x length of the hook shank, attach the craft fur at the bend back and secure it in place with several wraps.
  • Next, double over a length of flashabou and cut it in half. Take one half strand and attach it to one side of the fishing fly's head. It will angle in the same direction as the craft fur.
  • Do the same with the other half of flashabou, attaching it to the other side of the fishing fly's head.
  • Secure the flashabou with several wraps, and then check that the flashabou is angles in the same manner as the craft fur. Re-position if needed, and then secure with several more wraps.
  • Then, using a sparse amount of olive craft fur—approximately 2x length of the hook shank, attach the olive craft fur at the bend back and secure it in place with several wraps.
  • Finally, build the head with more wraps, clean up loose strands, apply a whip finish, and then head cement (or Hard-As-Nails Polish).

When the head cement is dry, time to go fishing with the Bent Back Clouser Variant!


When fishing the Bent Back Clouser Variant, here are a few suggestions from the Field Team!

  • After casting the Bent Back Clouser Variant, let it sink for a three count undisturbed. Be prepared to set the hook if a fish strikes soon after it lands on the water. On several occasions when field testing the fishing fly, a bass struck as the fishing fly hit the water.
  • When retrieving the fishing fly, use short but fast pulls on the fly line to simulate a darting baitfish attempting to flee a pursuer.
  • Vary the retrieve with pauses and long sweeps of the rod as this may trigger wary bass to strike.
  • If you miss a hook set when a bass strikes, cast again to the spot. Oftentimes, the bass is willing to strike again at the fishing fly.
  • Fish the Bent Back Clouser Variant in shallow water—one to three feet deep. If you do fish it deeper, use a longer countdown to let it sink to the desired depth.

Good Luck and Good Fishing!

Sincerely, the "Field Team"

Field Testing the Bent Back Clouser Variant


hbng84 (author) on March 30, 2016:

Liking this fishing fly! Going to try it again on our next trip!