The flies of the 2008 season, part 2:
It is time to write Part 2 of this article. In the first part you could read about the Yellow White Wing tube fly, this fly represents the early June fishing in a good way. In the next articles I will write about two different flies for normal summer conditions, and the first fly out is “Svarte Satan”.
"Exciting times at dusk".
I had heard of this fly many times before, but I had never seen it nor fished with it until this year. It was a fishing buddy from Røros who showed me the fly. The creator of this pattern is Hans Petter Ødegård, also from Røros, and this fly tier has tied very many effective patterns for the Gaula salmon. Hans Petter Ødegård was from early on a profiled fly tier, he had his own fly tying shop from where he tied and sold his flies. He also had the fly column in the Vi Menn magazine for many years. Another really good fly by Ødegård is called Kopparslagarfluggu, I have written about this in another article.
Unfortunately, Hans Petter Ødegård passed away a few years ago, he was a skilled fly tier and a capacity for the trout fishermen in the Røros area and for the Gaula salmon fishers. He left behind many effective fly patterns that will be used forever.
The ”Svarte Satan” gave my son and I several great salmon last season, it fished especially well around dusk, but also during the day, especially on grey days, exciting things happened with this fly. When I begun using this fly I noticed an increase in irritation from the salmon, it was just incredibly exciting to fish this fly. After an evening of fishing where I had been in touch with several salmon during a short period of time, I replaced the fly with another pattern, and I did this some more until I had tried 2-3 other patterns. This is one of the ways I test flies, although it can be difficult to remove a fly which yields regular salmon takes. It was no doubt that it was the Svarte Satan which annoyed the salmon the most, because when it was back in the currents the salmon reacted, and it seemed to be no fish at all just minutes earlier – cool. This actually happened during several nights!
There are many things that are fascinating when it comes to fly fishing, including flies, casting and the fishing itself. But another thing which is important to keep up with, is the development of all this. New fly patterns and fly lines are being developed all the time, and it is useful to keep up with this for a keen salmon fisher, this ensures you become a better fisherman. This article concerns flies, and thus the development of these as well. But sometimes, might be better to look to the past when choosing a fly? In my recommendation of the Svarte Satan fly I will write about the fly itself, and also about other theories I have for a fly like this suddenly beating the newest and hottest flies tied using the most modern materials. In order to tell you about my theories regarding this, you’ll have to read what I wrote in the first part of this article.
I wrote the following in the first part of this article series…
I often notice that I go back in time to old patterns tied using “old” materials when choosing a fly, I will discuss this more in detail in part 2 of this article.
There are many different theories with regards to why one fly will fish better than another fly, in my line of work I have seen an incredible amount of fly patterns over the past 15 years, I meet lots of fishermen showing me their flies, and often I even get to have a look at their favourite fly. This means that I constantly think about this and try to spot similarities and links between the theories of these skilled salmon fishers, because I wish to learn more about this too. So I am constantly striving to create effective fly patterns, and I try to keep in mind many factors, from the fishermen I talk to, and factors such as the behavioural patterns of salmon, river conditions and so on, these factors are the basis for my inspiration at the tying vice. This is often why my fly patterns evolve over time.
Today, salmon fishing is very popular; an incredible amount of people fish for salmon, and at the moment this is a hobby that recruits many new fishermen. This also means that the salmon will get a huge amount of offerings during its journey up through the river valley. I picture the salmon having to perform world-class slalom moves to avoid all the lures, flies, etc. And bear in mind that many fishermen use the same lures or fly patterns; it will be thousands of offers for the salmon that will be identical, imagine all the Møresilda lures, Green Highlanders and Phataghorva variants it will see during its upstream journey! I believe this affects the bite instinct of the salmon more and more the further up the river it gets, and when we add the stress it must be for the salmon to continuously relate to all this equipment, it is almost strange that we can get even a single salmon to take a Green Highlander further up in the river. I have observed this over many years, and this is why I say that a fly pattern can periodically lose its effectiveness.
It is neigh on impossible to see a common denominator for all the flies actually catching salmon, flies that are based on a multitude of theories formed by each fly tier. And I believe this is where the secret lies; the key word is variation. This notion means that I will never reject any fly pattern, and I very much want to listen to what fishermen tell me about their favourite fly. I believe that often when we manage to fool a salmon into taking the fly, it happened because we did something differently – something triggering the salmon into striking the fly. This could be the fishing technique, and/or a new fly, and in combination this led to the fly looking and behaving differently. We know that salmon take a fly out of irritation or anger, thus we always have the possibility of triggering the salmon into striking, and therefore the key word for making the salmon take your fly is often “variation”.
My theory for choice of fly is furthermore:
Salmon flies are constantly evolving! There are new materials available – both synthetic and new hair variants which are better, and which increases the possibilities to tie the flies differently from before. There are also new patterns being developed all the time, and even new genres of fly ranges. Consider how much has happened since it was more than natural to tie flies using feather wings, and up until today with long and soft wings being lit up by colourful flash materials. Just look at the development of trout flies due to modern materials; many patterns look almost identical to the real thing. All this has one thing in common: all the flies caught fish regardless of what year they were tied and fished with. What actually happens is that as new patterns or new materials emerge, most fishermen will shortly after have these flies in their fly boxes, and of course they will fish with them. Consequently, this will after a period of time ensure that it is these “new” flies the salmon will see the most of in the river. I have no doubt that the salmon has a short term memory capacity, of course I cannot know just how long it can remember – but I have a strong feeling that it can remember/recognise a fly during its stay in a pool, which can often last several hours before it continues upstream. If river conditions lead to the salmon being restricted from moving upstream, and it has to stay in a pool for a while before moving on, this problem will increase. The possibility that you fish according to the “opposite” theory is better when the water level is favourable from a salmon’s standpoint, so that the fish move upstream more evenly and do not stop too much, the short time it takes for the salmon to get from one pool to the next could mean that you fish with a completely different fly from that of the guys in the next pool down. Then you’re fishing according to the “opposite” theory, and this alone can be more than enough for you to be rewarded with a bent rod and screaming reel.
In my fly box I have made a special place for the Zulu flies, and every year I catch salmon on these flies. Another fly with a “VIP” seat in my July fly box is the Stoat’s Tail, it is quite strange that these flies still exist, as when compared to the soft long wing of a modern tube fly, the tube fly is much nicer to look at. I can vividly remember the first years I fished with these modern salmon flies with soft wings, this offered new fly tying possibilities, and there were no doubts that catches increased. But today there is a possibility that this category of flies that the salmon see the most of during its upstream journey, which actually offers good prospects for the “thinking” fly fisherman who tries something completely different. I have often experienced that good lies lose their effectiveness in periods, not only can a pattern catch fewer fish, but I also notice that, in the few occasions where the salmon still take the fly, its aggressiveness is not the same when it grabs the fly.
This long discussion on my relationship to theories on fly choices really ends up in the “opposite” theory, if you use this theory when picking a fly you will always stand a good chance of triggering the salmon into taking your fly. Actively focusing on the “opposite” theory you will constantly be able to provoke the salmon and force it to deal with new movements, colours and of course sizes of the flies. This will ensure you will catch more fish than if you fish through the pool using the same fly over and over, and sometimes it could be wise to check what the other fishermen are using as well. I have written about this earlier, you can read more about this in the articles on fishing in low water conditions. Especially the sections “frequent fly changes” and “the opposite theory” are well worth a look.
This is why I believe that the Svarte Satan tube fly is perfect just to be able to show the salmon something other than the modern salmon flies all the time, as this style of fly is actually rare these days, and the salmon will not see many of these. I also believe that this fly in its own way is thoroughly developed according to the theories on fly choice existing at that time. It is well-suited for fishing in low water conditions as it is sparsely dressed, with an underwing and tail from nature’s own flash material: polar bear! This creates a nice orange glow throughout the fly as the underwing overlaps the tail just in the junction towards the end of the fly. The overwing is black and originally tied using squirrel hair. In addition the body is created using natural seal’s fur, with a classical silver tinsel wound sparsely to the head of the fly. The fly is easy to tie, and many fly tiers appreciate this fact, myself included! I do not see any reason to change the fly and “make it better”, it is more than good enough the way it is originally tied. Ødegård tied this fly in three different sizes as tube flies, but it is also tied as a standard salmon fly using a double hook in various sizes.
The difference between the Yellow White Wing and the Svarte Satan could almost not be bigger, the wing of my Yellow White Wing variant tied for the early June fishing is tied using synthetic hair – long and flashy. The Svarte Satan pattern is sparsely dressed with no synthetic flash included, but this represents variation in my fly boxes, thus I will always have both these generations of flies at the ready in my fly box, as it gives me the best possible chances to trigger the salmon during different conditions throughout the season.
Tying instructions for Svarte Satan.
Tag: Silver tinsel.
Tail: Orange polar bear.
Body: Black seal’s fur.
Ribbing: Silver tinsel.
Underwing: Orange polar bear.
Overwinge: Black squirrel or fox hair, sparsely dressed!
Hackle: Soft, black hen hackle, sparsely dressed!