Thursday, February 6, 2014

Mousing 101- Mouse Gear

waiting for the moon to set

Mousing is a bit of a specialized pursuit. Beyond your waders the rest of your gear has to be tailored to night fishing. You might love your 5 weight rod, but the line typically isn't heavy enough to turn over a sodden mouse for example.

Here's what I take:

  • Red LED headlamp and a spare.
  • Raincoat.
  • 8 weight rod.
  • Reel with a good drag.
  • the right line
  • Nippers
  • 12 lb. flourocarbon tippet.
  • Box o flies.
  • Insect repellent.
  • Camera
  • Landing glove.
  • water bottle and snack.

Some of the items listed are essential, some are a personal preference. I'll cover each item with my reasons for using them.


using the red LED helps preserve your night vision

A good headlamp is essential. You will want one that has both white light and red light capabilities. The less you use your headlamp the better, as you will want your eyes to adjust to the darkness as much as possible. Shining your white light onto the water is a great way to put the fish down. Red LED settings allow you to tie on flies and shine the banks to judge cast distance and look for obstructions and snags without spooking fish. If you can get one, a light that switches the red LED directly on and off is preferable.

I have some cheap Energizer lights I bought at Home Depot. The red LED setting is the first to come on, but I have to cover it up and cycle it through all the white light settings to turn it off. This inconvenience is mitigated by the fact that they are a third of the cost of my previous more convenient headlamp which I left on my friends bumper at 3 AM after a long night's float. The Energizer lights are also brighter than my old light. Whatever you choose, don't go out without a headlamp.


This item is one of personal preference. You never know when it is going to rain as it is, and it serves as a good wind break, and keeps me warm on cooler nights. It also serves as a barrier against mosquitoes. I don't like covering myself in bug spray. The mosquitoes where I live tend to thin out after dark anyway. I wear my raincoat almost every night I fish.

8 Weight Rod

This is not so much personal preference. Mice are big flies and difficult to turn over. You are targeting the largest fish in the river. You need a rod that can handle both. If you know that your river only has fish 24 inches and under you could make do with a 6 weight rod paired with a seven weight line. I have been beaten badly several times on my 8 weight. You may skate a few teen sized fish across the water with the big rod, but when a big one makes a hard run for the lumber you'll be glad you went on the heavy side.


Any reel with a good drag. I'm a Ross fan myself. Unlike daytime fishing, I use my drag on a regular basis at night, so don't skimp on the reel.


I like the RIO Grand. You need some sort of floating line that roll casts well and turns over a big fly. RIO makes the LumaLux , a glow in the dark line that lets you see where you're fishing. I have one but have never used it. Some guys and guides love it, others hate it. I'll dust mine off next summer and give it a try. I contacted SA line guru Tom Hazelton and he says the SA Titan line is hands down the best mousing line. Going up a line size is always a smart move. Experiment until you find what works for your set-up.


I don't like a lot of stuff jangling on me at night. Nuff said. Some sort of forceps for removing the hook from a toothy mouth is also a must.


I used to fish 3-4 feet of straight 12 pound flourocarbon. I had my perfection loop fail on a really big fish this year and so started tying my own leaders consisting of a foot of 30 lb. butt section, two feet of twenty pound and eighteen inches of 12 pound flouro, all joined by blood knots. If anyone can suggest refinements to this I appreciate it. I just won't go lower than 12 pound for tippet and don't want the whole package over 5 feet long.

Box o' Flies

I'll share fly patterns,  designs and rationale in a later post. Bring multiples of several different types and colors.

Insect Repellent

I prefer to wear my raincoat over dousing myself in chemicals, but for the remaining exposed flesh I prefer 3M Ultrathon. A little goes a long way and lasts a long time. It is also resistant to washing away. Pick your poison, but bring it.


I have been flirting with danger bringing my Canon DSLR with me. Mike Sepelak showed me his camera, the Olympus TG-1. There is also a TG-2. They are waterproof and capable of taking video. Definitely on my wish list. Just bring something. A picture is far more effective than the thousand words you will regale your friends with about your fish of a lifetime.

Landing Glove

I don't like nets. They are heavy and are prone to snagging on brush etc. I prefer to hand land all my big fish. I buy fingerless wool gloves and grab my fish by the knuckle in front of their tail. if you're not comfortable with this then by all means bring a net. Whatever you do, be gentle with the fish and do not remove them from the water if at all possible. Most of my night time fish pics are snapped in a few seconds time. We don't keep fish out of the water for minutes at a time while we scramble for cameras and gear etc.  We leave the fish in the water while we get ready, then lift, snap the shot and return it to the water, pretty much in the amount of time it took you to read this sentence. Anymore than that and you risk killing your river's breeding stock.


For those long nights it's nice to have a snack and some water to re-hydrate with. Sometimes it's nice to bring a celebratory beer or hip flask. Jerky is always good. I guess now I'm wandering off into optional territory.

Some other things to consider bringing may be guidebooks, maps, gps unit, smart phone, sidearm, portable tying vise and materials, Playboy bunny, flares, and Goiter the fish landing robot, but those things are entirely up to you.

hopefully it all comes together like this. Zach Ginop releasing a 24" brown