How I Learned About the Clousers I’ve Been Touting

by Rino Bratelli

I’d like to thank Tom Baumann for the wonderful article in last month’s newsletter, about our Fall trips. It brought back fond memories of last season.

The purpose of this article is to inform the membership about how I learned about the Clouser pattern which I’ve touted for the past few years.

I was introduced to the “SPS Flashtail Clouser”, by my good friend Dan Blanton. As many of you recall, Dan was the Conclave guest a couple of years ago. Some of you may also remember that Dan Blanton was also a Conclave guest nearly 20 years ago, which was my first opportunity to meet and spend some time with him.

I recall that Mike Avondolio (Don Avondolio’s son) was also at that Conclave many years ago. In those earlier days, the Conclave was held at the Pridwin Hotel on Shelter Island, and it was called the “Shelter Island Rally”. This was the first time I had the opportunity to see Dan’s “Sar-Mul-Mac” fly, and it was love at first sight! I had never seen a fly with such realism, and have several photos of those flies.

When Dan was our Conclave guest in 1996. His slide show centered on fishing the San Francisco Bay Delta. During this slide show, Dan introduced the Club to the concept of a “FlashTail”, which he incorporated into his “Sar-Mul-Mac”. For those of you who are not familiar with this pattern, it is a general imitation of a Sardina, a Mullet or a Mackerel, depending on the dressing used.

After the Conclave, we had the opportunity to do some fishing together. I was invited to join Dan on his annual Delta trip in October. We spent 10 days on a houseboat on the Delta, along with Dan’s good friend, Ed Marcellac, who was also a fantastic chef during this adventure.

I learned a great deal while fishing with Dan. One of the things I brought back from my trip was the SPS FlashTail Clouser. When I first saw the fly, I thought it should be called a “fly-tying kit”, because it is dressed much heavier than what we easterners are used to. The SPS refers to Shad-Perch-Simulator, and the flashtail refers to about 50 strands of Flashabou tied into the center of the fly, which extends approximately 1 to 1.5 inches beyond the tail of the fly. Dan taught me that the Saltwater Flashabou and the Holographic Flashabou are too thick to provide the swimming motion of the regular Flashabou.

During the Delta trip with Dan, we caught countless stripers on both the SPS Flashtail Sar-Mul-Mac, as well as the SPS Flashtail Clouser.

I returned with a few deadly patterns as well as fond memories to treasure. The next issue was whether these patterns would actually work on East Coast stripers. This issue was resolved the following season when I caught over 500 stripers on these flies, as well as my first Albacore on a White SPS Flashtail Whistler (almost forgot this pattern)! I then tried a black and red version for nighttime action…(color pattern inspired by Glenn Mikkleson)…BANG, another winner! Now you will always find these patterns in my fly books, and they rarely let me down.

I can appreciate that many of you may not have known the proper names for these patterns, so when you’ve spoken to others about them, you’ve simply referred to them as “Rino’s Clousers”. I’m also certain you equate these patterns with me because I fish them almost to the exclusion of all others, yet I had to set the record straight. I didn’t invent them, but I know a good thing when I see it!

Dan…Keep those ideas coming…