How To Fish a Mouse Fly

Mouse flies come in all shapes and sizes.  Photo: Cameron Miller
Mouse flies come in all shapes and sizes. Photo: Cameron Miller

In a little more than a month, our setup crew will be headed in to start prep work for our season at Alaska West.  That makes us pretty twitchy about our summer fishing!

One of our favorite ways to fish for rainbows on the Kanektok is using a mouse pattern.  Mousing is really visual, it selects for bigger fish, and it’s good all season long.  What, you thought mousing only works in August?  You obviously haven’t tried it in June.

Matt Hynes, long-time guide at Alaska West, has put together a little lesson on mousing for us.  Have a read, and then don’t be the guy who tears the fly up out of the water!

How Not to Fish a Mouse Fly

It happens every season. Guests new to Alaska West hear about the fantastic mouse fishing and want to try it.

We get on the water, I tie on one of my mouse flies, and say “see that log? right along that”. They fire out a cast, perpendicular to the boat, and it falls short. Then the water places a huge bow in the line, and desperate to correct, they attempt an impossible mend. This only tears the fly 4 feet further away from the target. Now panicked, the angler rips the fly off the water again, lays down another cast in the same area, doesn’t like it, picks up the line again, and finally hits a good cast close to the aforementioned log. No fish eats the fly.

“Huh. Guess there isn’t anybody home” the angler says. Know why he didn’t get bit?

A trout rarely to never sees a mouse fly off the water like a Harrier jet. If the mouse hits the water, fish it. Period.

Matt’s Five Cardinal Rules of Mouse fishing

1. If the fly hits the water, fish it.
2. It’s really hard to not pull the fly away when a trout attacks. Don’t do it. Wait and let him eat it. Recite “God Save the Queen”, then set.
3. Angle your cast downstream to prevent a bow in the line which will drag your fly too fast away from the target. This will also allow you to keep the line tight.
4. Don’t strip in the fly unless to re-cast of the water is too slow. When you strip, your brain is thinking “strip”, and not “God Save the Queen, then set”.
5. Fish the mouse aggressively, but not recklessly.

More on Mousing


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