The flies of the 2008 season, part 3.

Then the time has come to write the third and final article on the flies on which I caught the most salmon in 2008. This fly has really had a permanent place in my fly box for the past 4 seasons, and that spot is well deserved. But for a long time the fly had to prove its effectiveness before being nominated to a permanent spot in my fly box, it actually took quite a while before I granted its “application”.

Try this one for difficult salmon.

It was Randulf Tverrfjell who showed me this fly, named Rotenon, to be honest I did not really like the fly when I first saw it. Something about the pattern did not evoke much excitement on my part, personally I would never have come up with mixing both red, black, blue and silver into one pattern. I had black fly patterns with red details, and also black patterns with blue details, but not all these colours in one single fly. Randulf told me that this fly was well established and very popular in his home territory. There are some different Rotenon salmon flies out there. I am uncertain whether there is one “original” Rotenon fly, but this does not mean anything as Randulf’s fly proved to be more than good enough, Randulf tells me over the phone that this is his own pattern, and this Rotenon name is indeed a very good name for a salmon fly. When Randulf began using this fly on the River Gaula, he quickly realised that it was effective in my local waters as well. He mostly fishes this fly as a single hook fly, but he also ties it as a tube fly, and today this fly is used by many Gaula fishermen and is now tied in all hook variations. However, I prefer it as a single hook fly, and tend to use it for spooky salmon when the river is low and clear.

The tube variant of the Rotenon fly, tied by Randulf Tverrfjell.

As previously stated I was not very excited when I first saw this fly, but I constantly had to deal with seeing Randulf in the river with a bent rod and screaming reel, very often with a Rotenon fly at the end of his tippet. Obviously, after a while with these observations the brain begins a re-evaluation in terms of the first impression. I traded some Red Butt tube flies for some Rotenon flies tied by Randulf, size 6 single hook flies, but it took a while before I finally decided to try them. I first tried the fly in a run where I had seen a large salmon stopping, of course I had tried my “safe bets” first so in a way I had given up on this fish, but decided to try the Rotenon fly for the first time. It was shocking, or even frightening, when the salmon took the fly on the third cast, it was not just that it took the fly, but also the way it did so. I almost dropped the single handed rod as the salmon smashed the fly on a short line in the small run – what an experience that was! The salmon took the fly so convincingly that the application for a permanent spot in my fly box was granted instantly. Good feelings spread through my body, as this situation with spooky large salmon in a low and warm river often equals very difficult fishing. But the determination and force of this salmon as it took the Rotenon fly instantly made me believe that this fly could be an important fly to have in similar situations. After this I actually developed a special tactic in some situations for how I fished this fly. Eventually, the Rotenon fly became a very important part of our many “new” fishing strategies and is actually today the safest bet when I put together the situational fly box for fishing to spooky salmon when the theory “frequent fly change” is to be utilised!

Catch and release.


A fantastic moment.

We had already established a new term coined “high speed flies”, and the Rotenon fly was probably the fly which sped up the developments of this of this new fishing method. “High speed flies” were not new fly patterns tied as a new concept, but rather concerning how we fished the flies during low water conditions and for “unwilling” salmon. This way of fishing really originated from sea trout fishing in the ocean, where hand-twisting the fly at high speeds towards the shore is normal. This is exactly what we did on the salmon rivers too, the only difference being that we would cast the fly to right where we had seen the salmon holding (straight at the target), and as soon as the fly landed we would swiftly pull it away from the salmon. This often surprises the salmon and results in some spectacularly tough takes. We had been testing this “high speed flies” theory for a while, but I felt that the Rotenon fly very much worked best for this fishing technique, and it was also this fly that confirmed our theories, that this technique worked on salmon in rivers as well. One evening when we were sitting by the fire I asked Randulf why he thought the fly was so effective, it should also be mentioned that the salmon will often take the Rotenon fly when fished using the more standard fishing techniques. I often pondered why this simple fly with such a slim wing and hackle could be so effective. Randulf was not really sure himself, but suggested that the fluorescent red butt could provide an attractor function that triggered the salmon. The fly is very sparsely dressed, thus it is a fly that fishes elegantly in low-water conditions, and these two aspects in combination with an active/focused fishing strategy are probably contributing to the effectiveness of this fly.

Good old workhorses with a permanent spot in the fly box.

Randulf is using fluorescent floss silk for the red tag/butt, and he also use clear varnish on top of this, creating an even stronger red colour, and this could be one of the seasons as to why the salmon reacts so forcefully when the fly passes by at high speed. These days, quite a few Gaula fishermen use this pattern, but trustworthy sources tell me that the fly is also very effective in rivers such as Orkla, Driva, Rauma, Os, etc, so this is obviously a great salmon fly. During the Haltdalen course this season there were several large salmon landed on this pattern, the fly was actually used in small hook sizes such as a size 10 or 12 double hook, which worked like a charm. Finally I would like to say that this is, surprisingly enough, a typical big salmon fly, my catch statistics for the Rotenon fly shows that the average weight is high. And I am talking about fly fishing in the most difficult conditions – a low and warm river and spooky salmon. I have decided that this pattern will be a permanent fixture in my tube fly box as well for the next season in order to test it during different conditions as well. Do you think I am looking forward to that, or what?

With these in the fly box... Tied by Randulf Tverrfjell.


Jan Erik.

jørem vald namsen

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