Q How much lead can you get away with using on a Clouser Minnow, and isn’t it just a jig and not a fly?
The largest lead eyes I have ever seen commercially available were one-quarter ounce. But I don’t recommend them unless you are an expert caster. For most flats and inshore fly fishing, small lead eyes in sizes 1/50-, 1/36- and 1/24-ounce are most often used. The trick is to use the weight of eye that will get the fly down in the water column where you want it. For example, I generally use a 1/50-ounce lead eye for bonefish, but will go to a 1/36- or even the heavier 1/24-ounce lead eye for permit, since the fly is a bit larger and permit will be found in a little deeper water.
The question of a Clouser Minnow being more a jig than a fly brings to mind many other such questions. When sinking fly lines were first introduced in the 1950s, traditional fly fishermen lamented that it wasn’t fly fishing. Later, many people felt it wasn’t a true fly if you used synthetic materials. Epoxy flies, when first introduced, caused hackles to rise, too. I could cite other examples of innovations that were deplored when first introduced but later became an important part of the sport. When the Salt Water Fly Rodders established their ground rules for fly fishing in the mid 1960s, we determined that any fly that could be cast without obvious strain on the angler or the equipment would be acceptable. If we make standards too rigid, I think we will see very few innovations in the sport.