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Another Tribute to Lefty

Lefty Kreh passed away nearly two years ago, but memories of fly-fishing’s biggest ambassador endure. The American Museum of Fly Fishing has paid tribute to the long-time TFO advisor with a film — Time — which is expected to be released in a few months.

TFO chatted with Alex Ford of the Museum to discuss the project, which got significant contributions from TFO advisors Flip Pallot, Blane Chocklett and Bob Clouser. All were good friends with Lefty.

Below are excerpts of the interview.

TFO: What was your role in the film? Were you the editor, the producer? Did you come up with the idea. …?

AF: “We knew we wanted to do a film this year. I spent a lot of time looking for a great story that would not only highlight the legacy of fly fishing, but also involve the museum and its collection in Manchester, Vermont. … I remember reading a Fly Fisherman Magazine article that Flip wrote about driving up to Maryland to fish smallmouth streams with Lefty. That was the original idea and then we got the FlyLords crew involved. Then we talked to Flip, and Blane came on board as well. …”

TFO: When will the film be out? For people to see?

AF: “If we can get it in the F3T (the Fly Fishing Film Tour), that would be ideal. It will be finished by October 1st. That’s the deadline for that. Hopefully by early September, we will be ready to go.”

TFO: I know you’re in the editing process right now. How long is the film? Fifteen minutes? 20 minutes? An hour?

AF: “The film will be 10 minutes. Then there will be lots of clips around it. We did interviews with Blane, Flip and Bob Clouser. All were an hour each. We’re going to cut some of that into the main film, but of course we’re going to use that for other stuff as well.”

TFO: I know you’re not finished, but how long did it take to do the project?

AF: “From conception to finish, about a year. A lot of that was coordination and fundraising in the beginning. We shot the actual project in early June. It should be done around mid-September.”

TFO: I know you can’t give anything away in terms of content, but can you give us an idea of the narrative of the film, what people can expect?

AF: “It follows the relationship between Flip and Lefty, how unique that was and also Lefty’s influence on a personal level. Blane for instance ties a Game Changer (fly) on Lefty’s old vise and he fishes with some of his old Deceivers (from the Museum), things like that.”

TFO: Anything that you learned about Lefty that you didn’t know before? Everyone, I know, has a perception of him. It seems like everyone has a story about him. … Is there anything interesting about him that you learned from this project?

AF: “Generally how supportive he was of other people. On a more specific level, there’s a strain of anthrax named after him. He worked in a factory for a number of years. There were three guys who contracted anthrax. The way it manifested itself in him was never seen before. It’s rather unique.”

TFO: When there’s a project, there’s things that make it worthwhile. Anything with this film that made it particularly worthwhile?

AF: “With Bob Clouser, we didn’t know he’d be (near where we made the film), but he happened be staying a few minutes from Flip’s house. For me, it was so cool to be at Flip’s house. Here’s Bob Clouser and Blane Chocklett and we’re talking about Lefty Kreh and Flip as well. That was just amazing, seeing all these heroes in the sport all together to commemorate Lefty who’s a hero to them. It was humbling all around.”

TFO: How much did Flip and Blane help you out? What was their role in all of this?

AF: “They were both great. Blane had a story about the Gummy Minnow and how Lefty got him his first fly deal. They were both excited that the Museum was doing a project like this. They could not have been more accommodating. The first day of filming was intense. We went on for 12 hours. Everyone did what they needed to do to get it done. Then there was Flip with his professionalism in front of the camera. It was amazing. It was like watching an episode of Walker’s Cay Chronicles being made.”

TFO: Anything else you would like to add?

AF: “Lefty’s family donated a lot of his materials, a lot of his estate, to the museum. We have his tying desk. His flies. All sorts of books, DVDs. A lot of cool stuff.”

TFO: What’s the name of the film?

AF: “Right now we’re calling it Time. That came from Flip who said, ‘All I have is time.’ We didn’t plan that one out, but it resonated.’’

 

Comments, questions about the film on Lefty? Feel free to visit one of TFO’s social media pages.

Big Flies Weigh You Down? Try the Clouser Rod

Ever had trouble casting those big saltwater flies? I have. A Clouser Minnow with big dumbbell eyes is my kryptonite. Serviceable loops elude me.

It might be my casting. Might be my rod. The former is more likely; the latter is an easier fix. TFO’s Clouser rod might help me sling the heavy metal.

One Clouser meets another. And what better person to discuss the issue than the man who invented the Clouser Minnow and designed the Clouser Rod.

“It’s made to cast weighted flies,” TFO Advisor Bob Clouser said during an interview from his Pennsylvania home last week. “It’s not super fast; it’s not super slow. It’s in between. It has a moderately fast action. It also has built-in action that most people don’t notice or talk about. It’s called progressive (action). That aids in casting. The more line weight the rod picks up, the farther down the blank it bends. The farther down the blank it bends, it’s stronger than the next piece up. It’s going to bring the rod tip pretty much even. You can have 20 feet, 30 feet, 40 feet of line. It’s going to set it off as the same speed as the 20-foot of line. It’s all matched with weight moving weight.

“If you’re a really fast caster, you probably won’t like the rod. If you want the rod to work itself, you’ll love it.”

The idea for the Clouser rod was hatched from an obvious trend —- a fly rod market that caters to the angler who wants tight loops and long distance.

“Everything was too fast,” Clouser said. “You don’t have to work this thing hard. It will pick up all lengths of fly line because of its progressive speed.”

TFO’s Clouser is Clouser’s second crack at a rod designed to throw big flies. His first, which measured 8 feet, 9 inches, was with a TFO competitor.

“We built that same action into a 9-foot rod (with TFO),” Clouser said. “What we had to do was speed it up because of that 3 inches of rod tip. So it’s hair quicker than the 8-foot, 9-inch was. It’s not that noticeable, but we had to beef it up a little bit.”

The Clouser is suited for a variety of fish, in freshwater and saltwater.

“I use an 8-weight for just about everything,” Clouser said. “I fish a lot of saltwater. I fish a lot of jacks. A lot of redfish. Even albacore. Even with the albacore, I would recommend a 9 for them. But that 8-weight, if you fight them off the reel, that rod will handle any fish.”

And let’s not forget the smallmouth, one of Clouser’s favorite species.

“Oh my god yes,” he said. “The reason: The smallmouth will hit flies from 2 inches long to 6, 8 inches long. Of course the bigger the fly, heavier (the rod) is. The 8-weight will handle that casting.”

As for a complementary reel, there’s no better option than the TFO Power. You can’t beat it for durability.

“It’s very good if you’re going to do saltwater,” Clouser said. “It’s very good if you’re going to do heavy-duty fishing.  If you’re just going to do freshwater fishing, the BVK will handle that.”

If you need security against that fish of a lifetime, the Power is the way to go.

“Super strong drag system,” Clouser said. “Just a super good reel.”

Comments on the Clouser rod or Power reel? Feel free to weigh in on one of our social media pages.

TFO’s Bob Clouser Talks Carp on Fly

I’ve never caught a bonefish. It’s on my bucket list, but the tropics may have to wait a few months. Fortunately, I’ve got a freshwater option close to home.

Carp.

They’re just as wily as a bone. And pound for pound they fight just as hard. And they’re cheaper. Many freshwater ponds, lakes and rivers in the continental U.S. have carp. There’s no need for a week-long trip to the Bahamas.

Once summer arrives and the water warms, it’s easy to take a break from trophy trout for carpin’. To develop a firm game plan, I turned to TFO advisor Bob Clouser, who touched on a few basics during a phone interview after taking a break from shoveling snow at his Pennsylvania home.

Patience

Carp are not easy to catch. They don’t always eat and when they’re willing to eat, they can be super spooky. Even if you make the right cast with the right fly, the stars have to align for an eat. And if you do hook up, landing one is not a given. Be prepared for a lot of trial and error along the way.

Required Skills

You need to make long casts. Forty feet will do. Sixty is better. However, distance is just one factor. Accuracy matters, too. Ideally, you want to put the fly in front of the fish and let your quarry find it, preferably near the bottom since carp like to forage in the muck.

“You don’t need to work the fly at all,” Clouser said. “You have to observe the carp and watch his lips. When they’re mudding, it’s hard to see their face. You can see their lips when they’re open. It has kind of a chartreuse look to it. It’s hard to see. There’s a saying, ‘When the light goes out, you set the hook.’ If you hesitate at all, he’ll spit that fly out. They don’t run off with it. It’s a different type sport to catch that fish.”

Reading the Fish

In trout fishing, you read the water. With carp, you read the fish. The beauty of carp fishing is its reliance on sight fishing. Look at the fish. Decide if it’s interested. Carp will sun. Ignore those. Carp will cruise. Ignore the speedsters. Take a shot at the slower fish. But even that’s a long shot. If you see a tailer, that’s the fish you want. Tailers are active feeders. Ever seen a tailing red? It’s a similar scenario. Once you discern the fish’s path, make your cast count, because chances are, you won’t get a second opportunity.

“’You have to watch them, observe them and see what they’re doing before you even cast,” Clouser said. “They are so spooky. A carp has two lateral lines. Most fish only have one. A carp has two, which makes them so sensitive. I have no idea how far they can see, but they can hear over 200 yards.”

The Gear

You’ll need a fairly sturdy rod — a 9-foot, 6-to-8-weight. Leaders, in general, need to be long. A 12-footer is not too short, but you can get by with a 9-footer, if you’re a good caster.

Try the TFO Power reel to handle those long runs. The TFO Clouser series in an 8-weight is a good complement.

“It’s easy to cast and soft enough for light tippets,” Clouser said. “It won’t break your 6 and 8-pound tippets. And I fish an 8-weight. An 8-weight will handle any size fly you need.”

Carp are primarily subsurface feeders. Crayfish are a big part of their diet. A brown or black woolly booger usually will get the job done.

That said, carp can feed on topwater or just under the surface. I hooked one — briefly —- on a berry fly. South Florida grass carp, I learned, feed on streamside berries from ficus trees. The moral of the story: Fish don’t follow a rule book. They feed on what’s available.

Thoughts on fly fishing for carp? Feel free to comment on one of our social media pages.

Lefty Kreh Honored for a Lifetime of Influence

Lefty is No. 1.

So says the editorial staff of Fly Fisherman Magazine, which compiled a list of the 50 most influential anglers of the past five decades and placed TFO’s Bernard ‘Lefty’ Kreh at the top of the heap.

“Absolutely, he deserves to be No. 1 on that list,” fellow TFO advisor Rob Fordyce said. “I never saw Lefty seek (that type of attention). He was a very humble guy. He was Lefty being Lefty enjoying teaching women and children to fly fish for the most part as well as tens of thousands of others. I think it was deserving, but I don’t think he would have (cared) about it.”

Kreh, a long-time TFO advisor until his passing last spring, was followed by Joe Brooks, John Voelker, Tom Rosenbauer, Lee and Joan Wulff, Dave Whitlock, Cathy & Barry Beck,  John Randolph, Nick Lyons and Ernest Schwiebert to round out the top ten. However, fly-fishing’s premier ambassador would have bristled at the notion of such a pecking order.

“I think Lefty would have, first of all, resented the list,” said TFO advisor Flip Pallot, who was a close friend of Kreh’s. “It was a silly endeavor. All you had to do was look at that list to know how silly it was. Lefty was the guy who didn’t want to be in the IGFA Hall of Fame, who didn’t want anyone to do anything special for him. I think that list would have gotten a laugh and chuckle out of him, and he would have kept right on going.”

Pallot, for what it’s worth, cracked the list at No. 16. The popular host of Walker’s Cay Chronicles said he found out about the honor from a congratulatory text message.

“I had no idea, so I forgot about it,” Pallot said. “Then someone else said something. I knew there had to be a list somewhere. I proudly followed in Lefty’s footsteps and ignored the list. Lefty was very fond of saying that a piece of paper will sit there and let you write anything you want to on it. It was someone who made a list, and that was that.”

For the record, TFO placed two other anglers on the top 50, fly tyer/guide Blane Chocklett (27), who invented the Game Changer fly; and noted fly-casting author/instructor Ed Jaworowski (39), who teamed up with Kreh to produce The Complete Cast, now available through TFO. Chocklett and Jaworowski are members of TFO’s national advisory staff.

“I think it’s cool,” TFO chairman Rick Pope said. “But, I didn’t need that list to tell me the (TFO) people on the list are more than worthy. All our Advisory Staff share certain personality qualities — humility, a desire to teach and, needless to say, pride in their knowledge and ability with a fly rod.  Lefty exhibited the best of these traits, and I’m sure that most all named would feel the same as Flip and Rob.”

Anytime a list is compiled that honors the elite of any profession, someone will be slighted. The most obvious omission: TFO’s Bob Clouser, the inventor of the Clouser Minnow.

“For them to miss Bob Clouser tells you how well vetted (the list) was,” Pope said. “I think the Clouser Minnow is the most widely fished fly in the universe.”

Best-of lists are not always journalistically bulletproof, but one thing’s for sure, they create controversy and, in turn, attention.

Thoughts on Fly Fisherman’s list? Let us know what your opinions on one of our social media pages.

How to Use the Inverted Loop Cast for Those Heavy Flies

Editor’s Note: This is a story by TFO Advisor Bob Clouser. It was first published in the 2014-15 edition of the Loop Newsletter. To see Bob’s story in its original form as well as gather a wealth of other fly-casting info, you can access the Journal of Fly Casting Professionals at the Fly Fishers International website by clicking on the following link: https://www.flyfishersinternational.org/Casting/TheLoopNewsletter/tabid/208/Default.aspx

 

You don’t need to throw a wide loop when fishing weighted flies and lines. In fact, you’re more efficient if you don’t. Lefty Kreh and I developed a casting stroke that, when properly executed, delivers weighted flies and lines with a tighter loop and less work.  I call it the Inverted Loop Cast.

Begin the cast after you’ve already retrieved the fly from deeper water, so the line is near the surface of the water.

Step 1

Without breaking your wrist, begin your back cast by rotating your hips and shoulders in the direction of the back cast with the rod traveling to reach a 45-degree angle by the end of the back cast. The line travels below the rod tip to create an inverted loop. After your hand passes your left shoulder, speed up and stop the rod to send the weighted line and fly rearward. The inverted loop will unroll and send the weighted fly in an upward trajectory at the end of the back cast (instead of the downward direction with the standard cast).

Step 2

Without pausing, elevate the angle of the rod from 45 degrees to approximately 60-75 degrees (closer to upright/vertical) without lifting your hand or elbow. This keeps constant tension on the line and avoids shocking the line when you begin the forward cast.

Step 3

As the casting hand changes the rod angle to 90 degrees, simultaneously begin rotating your body for the forward cast. Once the casting hand and shoulder passes the plane of the opposing shoulder, accelerate and stop the tip of the rod in the direction of the target to complete the cast.

Remember to apply constant tension on the rod through the entire cast. It is almost like pulling the weighted line and fly through the entire back and forward casting motion. Don’t pause between the back and forward cast; merely change the plane of the rod from 45 degrees to 90 degrees as the body begins forward rotation. For better accuracy, pull the line directly away from the target on the back cast before speeding up and stopping the rod.

Tips for Casting Weighted Lines and Flies

  • Learning how to fish with weighted flies and lines will improve your catch rate for sure.
  • Keep constant tension on the fly rod through the entire casting stroke.
  • Use your body. Bring your casting-hand shoulder back with the motion of the back cast. When making the front cast, bring the casting shoulder forward until it passes the non-casting shoulder. Then apply the same forward speed-up-and-stop by pushing the palm of the hand forward. This kind of like throwing a dart, baseball, or hitting a golf ball. Use no-up-and-down wrist movement.

Very important, never use the wrist and arm where it moves in an up and downward motion.

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