Thanks for the kind words, but in reality the fly (like 99% of all flies) is just evolution of what others have discovered... for instance Bob Clouser taking a design from old weighted eye flies like the Comet and numerous bonefish flies which use weighted barbel style eyes, applying that to a smallmouth bass minnow imitation that he needed to get down and dirty with.
The Deep Minnow is more commonly known as da' 'clouser' but that would downplay the other great patterns "Clouser" has designed. I prefer to call it what Bob calls it, the "deep minnow". In honor of the similarities, I originally dubbed it "Deep Sandeel" but Chris Windram had the same idea so changed the monniker to "real-eel" (what's in a name).
With all due respect, I did/do not like fishing with "clousers" because they don't have the right profile and taper for sand eel imitation, they lack durability and they recoil when casting. I do like fishing with this design because the changes provide the proper profile and are free of recoil. They are damn tough flies when tied right.
Bob Bianchi, an acquaintance from Chip Gouger's old shop in Barnstable, handed me two of reel-eel ancestors years ago in Chip's shop. I looked at them as long clousers tied in sand eel colors, and frankly they did not get much time in the water. I was more inclined to use Page's bigeye baitfish-like patterns, slim jims, poppers and epoxy sand eels. One day I gave the fly a try when the fish were gorging on sand eels on the bayside flats. Anything above them was generally ignored yet anything that properly imitated an eel below them in the moving 4-6 foot water was greedily eaten. My epoxy eels weren't getting into their attention zones. The currents were strong and I needed to get the fly into the column where the current slows along the sandy bottom to get these fish, and they were big cows. Of all the flies I had, Bob's sand eel got me deep enough and the hook rode upright to prevent snagging. I had one of the best days of my SWFF career thus far that day when I tied that thing on. The wisdom of this design for sand eels on sandy shoals hit me like a ton of bricks, and I started experimenting with the discovery like crazy.
The design does not recoil because the ratio of material to hardware is much in favor of the material and it introduces it own air resistance to counter the weight. This drag is not enough to prevent long casts, it's within a workable balance.
Using all synthetic materials, I can vary the appearance widely to match the sand eels present in a given flat, rip, or open sea zone.
Folks to whom I've passed the reel-eel mantra onto might agree, it's not so much the fly as the presentation that is my contribution. The design lends itself to a certain suite of presentation styles that stripers are definitely dialed into, each different for a given situation. I'll tell you one thing, in almost all cases it is NOT retrieve that the vast majority of striper anglers use.
So between the fly inventors who inspired Bob Clouser to make his smallmouth fly; to those anglers who adapted it to SWFF; to Bob Bianchi - to me, this is like many patterns iteratively developed adaptation of someone elses good ideas. I am sure it will evolve again in the vises of it's current user base.