Catching a trout on a mouse is one of the most thrilling things in fly fishing. Whether you’re hunting predatory fish at night in the western US or targeting Rainbow Trout in Alaska, fishing a mouse encourages visual eats and usually involves large fish. Mouse patterns are also famous in New Zeland, especially during years with a high mouse population, and can be used to fool some of the largest Brown Trout on the face of the earth.
Most patterns are tied with foam for increased floating capabilities and can be skated across the surface of the water to imitate a swimming mouse. In the west, when farmers mow their fields, mice are pushed from the tall grass (wheat, etc.) and are forced to find a new home. In their panic, they sometimes fall into a river or purposefully swim across a river to get to the other side. Large trout take advantage of these moments of weakness and often capitalize on a large meal. Mouse fishing brings the largest trout out of their deepest, darkest lays and culminates in an explosion of water that’s tough to beat.
One of the most popular mouse flies is the Morrish Mouse. This mouse pattern is a combination of foam, a deer hair body, and a rabbit strip tail. Its design features a lifelike profile and allows it to swim across the surface of the water creating a wake that catches the attention of a holding trout. These flies are durable, reliable, and should be fished wherever there are mice present. This particular pattern comes in two sizes: 04 and 06. Many other patterns are tied in a similar style and feature a foam top and a deer hair body.
If you’re traveling to Alaska, it’s worth carrying a few of these mouse patterns in your fly box. In Alaska, Rainbow Trout, Grayling, Char, and other fish species feed on mice. Some rivers in Alaska are more well-known for mouse fishing than others, but trout in shallow water can typically be fooled with the right presentation.
Similarly, New Zealand is known for its ‘mouse hatch’. Every few years, NZ gets a record population of mice and the trout notice. Whether you’re fishing a small creek in NZ or targeting trophy fish in a larger river, mouse flies often trigger aggressive strikes from the largest fish. Mousing New Zeland is similar to fishing a mouse anywhere else; cast it across the river and skate it first downstream, then upstream in a swing-like presentation.
Regardless of where you’re fishing mouse patterns, it’s a strategy that won’t always produce the most fish but it’ll produce some of the largest. While we only have one mouse fly in our collection at the moment, check back often as we are always expanding our fly selection with patterns through Umpqua and other manufacturers.