Fly Tying The Morrish Mouse

Fly Tying The Morrish Mouse

Although my Morrish Mouse swimming through the riffles didn't have ears, nose, and whiskers on top like some of the fancier patterns out there, I imagined its bulky hair body and tantalizing tail looked like the real deal from belowwith or without the ventriloquism from my guide. The key is not how realistic the pattern looks; instead, it's the low-riding, sputtering swimming action as the mouse furrows its way through the riffle that incites trout to commit violence against rodents.

Sometimes the trout "blow up" on the mouse, acting as though they don't merely want to eat itthey want to maul and abuse it. Other times it's more like a shark attack, with the trout creating its own V-wake behind the mouse, closing the distance in a calculated, predatory fashion. These aggressive strikes, while exciting, more often than not result in a limp line.

Whether the mouse is built right on the shank like the Morrish Mouse, or it has a trailing stinger hook like Mr. Hanky or similar patterns, you'll have to get used to seemingly crushing attacks that just don't connect. It could be the trout are employing a smash-and-grab tactic, trying first to drown and/or disorient the mouse with the idea of actually eating it once it's underwater. I've seen many trout do exactly this in clear water, first hitting the fly, then circling around below looking for their meal.

The best hookups often come from more subtle takes, and the Alaska guides I've spoken to confirm this. When all you see is a white maw opening up behind the mouse, you know the trout is serious about eating in one pass.


Just as in skating surface flies for steelhead or Atlantic salmon, you wait to set the hook, allowing the fish to take the fly and turn back to its holding position. Often, the trout hooks itself in this process, drawing the hook to the corner of its mouth. For good measureonce the trout clearly has consumed the flysweep the rod to the side to firmly bury the hook. But you should never "set" the hook visually as you would when fishing a dry fly; you risk pulling the fly away too soon.


I fish a mouse pattern the same way as a skating steelhead fly by casting across-stream, pointing the rod tip downstream, and allowing the current to work the fly back across-stream. In slower water, cast straight across at a 90-degree angle. In faster water, angle your casts downstream at a 45-degree angle so the fly doesn't race too quickly. Mice can swim, but they aren't Michael Phelps.


Of course, this begs the question of whether the trout actually perceive their target as a mouse, or whether the movement simply triggers an instinctual strike.

"There's no doubt they think it's a mouse," Will Blair told me during a day of mousing on Nanuktuk Creek (the Little Ku) in Katmai National Park. Blair is the booking agent for Rapids Camp Lodge, but he spent a decade of summers managing wilderness camps and exploratory expeditions in Kamchatka, where the terrain, climate, and topography are similar to Alaska. On exploratory float trips, Blair often ate rainbow trout.

Fly Tying The Morrish Mouse

HOOK: #4 Tiemco 5263.
THREAD: Black 3/0.
TAIL: Brown rabbit strip trimmed to end tuft.
BACK: Black closed-cell foam trimmed into a long taper at the rear.
BODY: Spun dark cow elk or suitable alternative hair, trimmed.

Morrish Mouse Step 1 of 6

Attach the thread to the rear of the hook. Tie in the rabbit-strip tail, and then add the narrow end of the trimmed foam.

Morrish Mouse Step 2 of 6

Hand stack the elk hair, and clean and trim the butts. Tie in the hair with the tips toward the back. Flare the hair and spin it tightly. Repeat this process with four to six more bunches.

Morrish Mouse Step 3 of 6

Comb and press the hair out to the sides, and part the hair along the top of the hook shank. Use scissors to trim along the top to clear a platform for the foam back.

Morrish Mouse Step 4 of 6

Pull the foam forward and tie it down at the head of the fly. Whip-finish in front of the foam. Trim the foam, leaving roughly 1/3" facing forward for the skating lip. Comb the hair out to the sides.

Morrish Mouse Step 5 of 6

Use a double-edge razor blade to trim and flatten the elk hair from the belly of the fly.

Morrish Mouse Step 6 of 6

Note: Morrish opposes the use of stinger-style hooks for trout fishing. The narrow gap on this pattern is by design, and will greatly reduce mortality. Please only fish this pattern barbless.


Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

Recommended for You

Here are step-by-step instructions for tying the Strong Arm Merkin fly. Fly Tying

Tying the Strong Arm Merkin

David W. Skok - July 09, 2019

Here are step-by-step instructions for tying the Strong Arm Merkin fly.

The fly fishing communities in the U.S. and Belize are mourning after twin slayings that occurred on what appeared to be a routine guide trip on Sunday, June 23, 2019 in a shallow lagoon near San Pedro, Brazil. Industry

Fly Fishing Community Stunned by Twin Slayings on Belize Saltwater Flat

Fly Fisherman Online Staff - June 27, 2019

The fly fishing communities in the U.S. and Belize are mourning after twin slayings that...

These dense, indestructible nymphs will improve your subsurface game. Fly Tying

Perdigon Nymph

Charlie Craven - January 15, 2019

These dense, indestructible nymphs will improve your subsurface game.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Fly Fishing for Taimen in Mongolia

Fly Fishing for Taimen in Mongolia

Finding giant Mongolia taimen and a state of enlightenment.

Black Beauty

Black Beauty

Master fly tier Charlie Craven discuss the tools and materials needed to tie the Black Beauty.

Breaking the Surface

Breaking the Surface

Attack of the Bass continues as Breaking the Surface attacks bass with fly and lure 12:30pm ET Sunday, April 17th.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

George Daniels offers his advice on which types of fly-fishing leaders are best for the most common applications you'll encounter on the water. How-To

Picking the Perfect Fly-Fishing Leader

George Daniel - January 22, 2018

George Daniels offers his advice on which types of fly-fishing leaders are best for the most...

Fly-Fisherman Editor Ross Purnell shares his top five best trout fishing destinations in the world. Worldwide

5 Best Trout Fishing Spots in the World

Ross Purnell, Editor

Fly-Fisherman Editor Ross Purnell shares his top five best trout fishing destinations in the...

Golden riches in Wyoming's high-country heaven of the Wind River Range. United States

Wind River Range Wyoming

Greg Thomas - July 27, 2015

Golden riches in Wyoming's high-country heaven of the Wind River Range.

See More Stories

More Fly Tying

Learn to tie Fly Tying

The Mother of all Stoneflies

Charlie Craven - August 12, 2016

Learn to tie "The Mother of all Stoneflies" here

A streamer that moves like a champ Fly Tying

Swim Coach Streamer

Charlie Craven - October 01, 2019

A streamer that moves like a champ

A Jack Dennis classic, first designed for the Jackson Hole One Fly. Fly Tying

Tying the Amy's Ant

Charlie Craven

A Jack Dennis classic, first designed for the Jackson Hole One Fly.

See More Fly Tying

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×