You Can Mouse Just About Anywhere

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Mousing on the Dream Stream. Photo By: Louis Cahill

Eight years ago, I got fed up with reading articles about people all around the country and abroad fly fishing with mouse patterns and landing truly giant trout.

It seemed every medium I read or watched, there were people showcasing how productive mouse fishing could be. The only problem was, where I lived in North Georgia, as well as the majority of my neighboring states, I heard very little about anyone fishing mouse patterns. You’d find a few patterns here and there in the fly bins at the local fly shops, but in actuality, I think most of those were being fished on farm ponds for bass not for trout. I couldn’t take it any longer, so I decided to go on a mousing binge, strictly fishing mouse patterns on my days off. I really wanted to figure out if mouse patterns would work just as well on my home waters as they did on blue ribbon caliber trout streams.

My first big brown trout fishing a mouse pattern.

It didn’t take long to find success. My second trip out I landed a 26 1/2″ wild brown trout on my home tailwater. It was one of the biggest documented fly caught brown trout on the surface that anyone could remember for quite some time. I then moved on to some of my favorite small mountain streams where I’d never heard of anyone tying on and fishing a mouse pattern. Again, my mouse experiment yielded incredible success, and I quickly turned into a mouse fishing enthusiast. I didn’t know if I was having luck because no other anglers were fishing these big mouse patterns, or if it was simply that very few anglers in my area were willing to accept mice were regularly being preyed upon by our local trout. I didn’t know for sure, but in all honesty, I didn’t really care. Success was success, and I was going to milk it before everyone caught on.

Here’s What I learned about Fishing Mouse Patterns that first year.

  1. You can just about fishing mouse patterns anywhere with success. Do not exclude small trout streams.
  2. Although you seem to catch bigger trout on average with mouse patterns, I did find smaller trout will aggressively eat them as well.
  3. Brown trout aren’t alone, rainbow trout, brook trout (char), and steelhead will chomp on mouse patterns too.
  4. I learned there are other ways of fishing mouse patterns other than the traditional down and across skating technique. On smaller streams in particular, I had very good success fishing the mouse patterns casting them upstream and working them back downstream like a bass popper (pop, pop, pop, pause…, pop, pop, pause….WHAM).
  5. I found that timing the hook-set with mouse patterns was crucial. Often big trout would swirl and knock at the mouse pattern, and then come back to eat it. The best way to get solid hookups was to wait on the hook-set until you felt tension.
  6. The best mouse patterns were highly buoyant and had a hook on the very rear of the fly.
  7. A Medium Action fly rod with a 1x-3x 7 1/2-9′ leader was most practical for absorbing strong smash and grabs, abrasive teeth, and limiting leader/tippet twisting. The size of stream, and how leader shy the fish are you should dictate what rig you use.
  8. Although low light situations (dawn & dusk) were best for fishing mouse patterns, I also had success during the middle of the day. This means you can have success fishing mouse patterns any time of the day.
  9. The deep and moderate to slow moving water was where I hooked up with the biggest trout on my home waters. Really turbulent water seemed to mask the silhouette of the mouse and its effectiveness.
  10. The colder months of the year seem to be less productive for mouse fishing. I only assume it’s because many of the mice have to stay sheltered underground to stay protected from the cold weather. Because of this, I know focus fishing mouse patterns from the Spring through Fall.
  11. Tying the mouse pattern on with a loop knot provided the best action.
  12. Cover lots of water. If you do not get looks or chases usually within a few casts, the fish aren’t interested.

For more information about mouse patterns and fishing them, check out these links below.

Hidey Ho – By Louis Cahill

Deneki Outdoors – 5 Tips for Mousing Rainbow Trout

Jeff Hickman’s Mr. Hankey – Mouse Pattern – Deneki

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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29 thoughts on “You Can Mouse Just About Anywhere

  1. I keep a mouse pattern close by all the time just for kicks and giggles. Many times, when I can’t get anything else to hit it’s what I’ll throw on just to see what happens.

    I’ve never caught a monster, but I’ve landed more than a few using a mouse.

    • Luke,

      I have caught fish on mouse patterns in crystal clear water to pretty damn stained, almost blown out. Probably the best conditions are somewhere between. Just don’t be afraid to try fishing them.


  2. Interesting. Like you, I’ve heard about and read about mousing in several publications, or the friend of a friend did it. I’ll have to give this a shot myself.

  3. On my section of the creek (you and Louis are regulars here) I’ve been tossing all the mice I catch weekly in the garage snap traps in the water. I keeping waiting to see the big chomp. It’s coming. Thanks for the great blog and don’t be a stranger.

    • John,

      Mr. Hankey and the Morrish Mouse are my two favorites. You generally get better hook ups with the Hankey, but certain water where I want a really big wake, the Morrish can excel.


  4. Pingback: Mousing Everywhere | MidCurrent

  5. Great motivator,thanks. Thought about it for use on musky here in Ky. I’m new to Ky. and know next to nothing about it’s waters .

  6. The article was spot on. I’d heard about mousing for big browns, but NEVER heard of anyone doing it here in Arizona. The guy at my local fly shop laughed when I told him I wanted to try it. A few weeks later I brought him a picture of the 26″ brown I landed at a lake up near Payson. He bombarded me with questions! Im hooked, I never leave home without a few mouse patters in my box. Great article.

  7. I have half a dozen sitting in a box from when I went to Labrador a long time ago. Thanks for the article. Will try near home now. Never thought to.

  8. Since you wrote this post, a lot of things have changed with lines….I was wondering if you had a sense on set up…I have a new opst single hand rod skagit, and i was thinking about a poly leader with a few feet of 10lb knotted to a mouse….any thoughts from you?

    • I’ve not fished that exact setup, but I do enjoy fishing mouse patterns on scandi lines with a floating leader. I don’t like casting skagit heads without a tip, so maybe a floating MOW tip. I also think the poly leader will drag your fly down. That’s just a guess. Why don’t you give it a try and let us know how you do?

    • I’ve tried chucking floating frogs and mice on little ponds in northern CO on a 7’6″ 3wt with a 150 gr. OPST head and a floating polyleader, with about 2 feet of 12lb at the end. I’m new to single hand skagit casts (read: my casts are garbage), but this rig is good out to 50 feet or so. Good enough for the small pond bass and sunfish I’m after. For bigger trout, I’d start at a 5wt and go up.

  9. I’ve never fished with a mouse, and I’m looking to try, are there any places you would recommend for a first time “mouser”?

  10. I have been “mousing” since I was a teen in MI and what I think is a bummer is when I lived in Co and fished the “dream Stream” I was ablt to get for a few months before the park rangers drove down to the river to go apeshit on me. 10 years ago I showed a few guys how we roll in the midwest and it works anywhere. I had a lot of crazy adventures in Co and it may not have been “Legal” it sure was fun.
    Colin Campbell Former Orvis of Cherry Creek men’s clothing expert and purveyor of “Gorgeous Sweaters”!

  11. Never thought of mousing on small streams, but I saw a mouse swimming across the Red River during a spot of rain last weekend. Might have to spend some time slinging mice around the lower reaches before it merges with the Rio Grande. I know there are pike and smallies in the Rio too, and I’d bet they see mice every now and then.

  12. Pingback: Go Mouse Anywhere | MidCurrent

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