Small Stream Mousing Tips!
Mousing has to be the most exciting way to fly fish. The adrenaline rush you get after stripping a mouse fly through a deep pool and having it absolutely destroyed by a monster brown, is a feeling like no other. This is the reason I’m a mousin’ maniac!
A low profile foam mouse fly, such as, the Master Splinter are the best patterns in my opinion. They float like a cork and are easy to tie. A headlamp with a red light option is a must, but try to use it as little as possible, and do not shine light into the water. Red light does seem to spook less fish, but why risk it? Scout the sections of the stream you plan to mouse during the evening/night earlier in the day. While scouting, try to get a good feel for where your going to throw your fly. A 6-7 wt. rod is going to be your best weapon of choice with weight-forward floating line and a short, 5-6 foot, heavy leader. I use 15-20lb. fluorocarbon when mousing because the trout that feed on mice at night are not small and keeping them away from logjams or tree roots can be quite a chore with smaller tippet.
As darkness falls, big browns are on the prowl which means they can be anywhere as they search for an easy meal. The spots that you would normally pass up during the day may hold a monster during low light hours. Darkness is their time to shine and they travel a long way on their hunt for food. Mice and other big brownie favorites such as sculpins and crayfish, are mostly active at night, so, if you want to catch big brown trout you have to be out when they are feeding.
Your job when mousing is to make your mouse fly as realistic as possible. Picture an actual mouse taking a quick drink, losing its footing, and falling into the water. Instant panic sets in for the mouse. Its only goal now is to get to dry land as quickly as it can. To imitate this with your fly, you throw your mouse fly as close to the bank as possible, if you don’t snag up on the opposite bank every once in a while your not doing it right. Don’t be afraid to make a loud plop, as this will attract the browns attention, and help it zero in on your fly. When mice swim there is no stopping or popping, just a constant struggle to get to land. Use a steady retrieve to mimic this. Strip all the way back to your rod tip because a big brown may follow a long way before committing. The strikes are usually vicious so be ready to jump out of your skin! Last thing to remember is always I mean always….STRIP SET!