The flies of the 2008 season.
In this annual article I will write about three different flies. This was such a good season for me that it is just too difficult to give the credit to just one fly. Thus, the article will be written in 3 parts this time.
Yellow White Wing turned out to be my most successful June fly this season, I have written about this fly several times. The creator of this pattern is the well-known fly-tier Mikael Frødin, and the fly is tied for fishing in clear weather conditions. I have also created a tube fly designed for early June fishing when the river is high and cold, this fly is very effective, and the main colour of this fly is also white. However, it was problematic to source the materials for this pattern, and although it did catch many fish, I could not really decide whether I found it to be a very good-looking fly. So when I first saw Frødin’s pattern, I suddenly saw the light. This fly really had everything I had been looking for. It was better-looking, the colour strength was more intense, and it was easier to source the materials needed for this pattern.
Now all I had to do was to sit down and tie flies, that feeling of tying a fly you just know will work for sure will catch fish is incredible. You can almost not wait to get to the river and tie the fly to the end of the leader.
I usually tie my fly patterns in different variants, adjusting the colour strength of the fly by the amount of flash I use, some patterns I tie with no flash at all. I also tie most patterns in different sizes, enabling me to use the same pattern during different conditions. The reason why I do this is that I prefer certain colour combinations in certain light conditions. When comparing fishing in good light conditions on a high and cold river in June with fishing a low and warm river during the same light conditions in July/August, the salmon will change its behaviour to such an extent that the fly pattern should be changed too.
I very much like to tie the wings of this fly using the synthetic material Flash n Slinky, this material has several advantages, both in terms of the length of the fibres, and also due to its colour strength. It is a synthetic wing material that is pre-mixed with flash fibres matching its main colouration. When the fly is submerged in water, it gets a very translucent impression due to the wing material, and you get the impression of the fly being somewhat camouflaged. This makes the fly look almost see-through in the wing section, and combined with the body colours this creates an impression in the water totally different from anything else I have seen. It is not a problem to tie tapered wings using the Flash n Slinky material, and I can also fold the wing over in order to lift the wing from the hook so as to not tangle in it during casting. You decide the cone head solution you want to use.
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 such as the behavioural patterns of salmon, river conditions and so on, and this is why my fly patterns evolve over time.
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 parts 2 and 3 of this article.
Yellow White Wing is a fantastic salmon fly, but why is it so? It is possible to think about the fly imitating something that salmon eat while out at sea, these are usual thoughts mixed with the established colour theories surrounding the choice of fly for river fishing. However, I would like to add a theory that has evolved over the last few years around why this fly currently is so effective. The observant reader probably noticed that I wrote “currently” with regards to the fly’s effectiveness, and the reason behind me writing that is that this can change after a few years. This is also in line with my experiences; that a fly’s effectiveness can weaken.
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 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”.
This is why the Yellow White Wing is a fly that satisfies all these “requirements”, because this colour combination does not have any traditions among salmon fly fishers, so the salmon I caught on this tube fly this season had not seen many similar flies earlier in the summer. Consider this as well: how many people use white and yellow lures when fishing for salmon? Add to that that there is most likely something looking like this fly in the ocean, I think this is most likely due to the translucent nature of this fly when submerged in water. No wonder that this is a fly you should have in your fly box next season!
JAs of today I fish this fly from when the river is high, to when it is flowing at a medium water level, which means that I use this fly in 3 different sizes. This largest one is used when the river is really high and cold and has a wing length of around 14-16 cm. The next one down has a wing length of 8-10 cm, and the smallest one as of today has a wing length of around 6 cm. I will tie this for fishing in low water conditions too, by softening the colour strength and tie it in even smaller sizes.
I recommend you try this fly! The 2008 season gave me several beautiful salmon on this pattern, and I would like to add that in some of the situations where I managed to fool the salmon into taking a Yellow White Wing, the salmon took the fly with great conviction in terms of several different challenges occurring at the river. This made me convinced that this is an effective tube fly.
For tying instructions, see the article: The fly box for rivers in spring flood.
For the extreme version of the fly, see the article: Deadly tube flies for early season fishing.