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Tips on How to Fly Fish with a Mouse Pattern

Posted by Derek on

(Sam Parkinson photo cred: Cortney Boice)

So, you have decided to join the club? That good old fashioned Mouse Club. No, not the kind were you wear mouse ears designed for kids and tourist, we are talking the meet after midnight, chuck and duck, big brown trout club. This club was conceived by the obsessed carry boxes filled with deer hair creations that look more like mini monsters than cute cartoons. Here are a few tips to help you avoid the general taste of skunk that can accompany this sort of endeavor. To check out a couple of our video edits of us catching fish on mice, and the best one yet Skating Mice for Trout

(Sam Parkinson photo cred: Cortney Boice)

First, you will want to research and scout the water you are going to fish. Spend some time there during the day as to get a general layout of the river or lake so you can avoid any pitfalls. Also look for areas were a big trout might hunt during low light hours. Shallow, swampy water that is often overlooked during the day can become prime hunting grounds at night. Often times big trout will move into these areas looking food once the sun has gone down. Back eddies, large bends, dead fall and so on that create soft water should all be places you consider for night time mousing arenas.

(Sam Parkinson Photo cred: Cortney Boice)

Second, Choose a night with the least amount of moon light possible. I have spent a lot of nights mousing and from my experience I always do better when the moon isn't around. The only exception to this rule has been when some type of hatch is going on, mainly a sedge caddis hatch, other than that I much prefer moonless nights for throwing a mouse pattern. Make sure you bring a friend because as much as we would all like to think we are tough guys, it can be dangerous, and honestly a little scary to be alone on the water in the pitch black....

(Sam Parkinson Photo cred: Cortney Boice)

Third, choose a mouse wisely. Mice patterns that push a lot of water are best. The fish will be hunting mainly by vibrations so make sure your mouse makes a nice wake. I like patterns that partially sink, they tend to create a better wake as they move across the surface. Also, make sure you have a light wire, super sharp hook. Gamakatsu hooks are among the sharpest out there and the lighter wire hooks allow for better hookups. Heavy hooks, aka, salt water type hooks, don't hookup as well and don more damage to the fish.

Finally, fishing, retrieve and hookup. In general I have found small quick strips work better than any other retrieve. 

(Cortney Boice photo cred: Kurt Poecker)

Often times the most eats come on quick, inch long strips, but if this doesn't work mix it up until you find something that works for you. Work the fly around structure, backwaters and lazier type water you scouted during the day. Trophy trout will move into very skinny water if there is food near by. It is not uncommon to see very large trout in less than a foot of water hunting along structure such as weeds, logs or drop offs.

(Cortney Boice photo cred: Kurt Poecker)

Now comes the key to the whole deal, once a trout eats keep your cool and keep stripping. Don't jump the gun and "trout" set, just continue swimming Mickey until you feel the line go tight, then strip set the fly with a few solid jabs. It takes some mental toughness not to immediately strike when you hear a fish slashing on your fly but resist the urge to hit him until you are sure he has eaten your hairy imposter. Trout more often than not miss mice but come back multiple times to eat. If you trout set when you hear a fish trying to demolish your mouse it will most likely result in a missed opportunity. Nothing is worse than knowing you may have just pulled your fly away from a monster trout more than willing to crush a tasty clump of feathers.

(Sam Parkinson photo cred: Cortney Boice)

Have fun out there, the best part about throwing a mouse fly is the unknown. You never know if an overzealous 16 incher will throw down MMA style or if the biggest trout of your life will lazily slurp a mouse fly as though it were a midge.

(Photo: Cortney Boice)