Flies of the year 2009 – final chapter.

The fly which I will tell you about now, I have written about earlier as well, this fly keeps on surprising me with regards to steady catches, and not least the size of the salmon taking this fly. The 2009 season was somewhat different than the previous few seasons as it was a steady high water level throughout the summer due to continued rain. I counted as many as 6-7 large and small summer floods, this is twice as many summer floods as usual throughout a season.

Until now, I used to have the best experiences with this fly in low water conditions and with spooky salmon, but that was about to change this season; I had ambitions of fishing this fly as a tube fly as well, so that I could test it out in higher water level conditions. This resulted in a bent rod on several occasions this summer, and sometimes with so much bend that the rod made this cracking sound as the salmon rushed downstream in runs up to a hundred metres.

Check out that glowing red butt…


The fly I am referring to is the Rotenon fly, and as I have written before, there are several versions of this pattern. However, my variant is tied by Randulf Tverrfjell, I have not used a lot of time trying to find out who is the creator of this pattern because Randulf’s version is so good that I feel I do not need other versions of the same fly. I had some reactions about this the last time I wrote about this fly, where the message was that this is not the original version of the Rotenon fly. But as you understand I do not feel that this is that important, as I was not about to write about this pattern’s creator, but wanted to talk about Tverrfjell’s version as an awesome salmon fly.

You can read more about the pattern under the menu “Flies” and the link ”The flies of the 2008 season, part 3”.

Such a simple fly, but oh so effective…


I guess that this fly alone counted for around 40% of my salmon takes in the 2009 season, those times when the river had risen following a rainfall I fished a lot with the tube fly variant of the Rotenon fly, and the few times when the river was low I fished with the normal single hook variant in sizes 6 or 8. As a tube fly I also use two different sizes, the smallest one with a 3 cm body length and 5 cm wing length, and the bigger one has a 6 cm body and a wing length of 8 cm.

I am a “thinking” salmon fisherman; i.e. I always ask myself why I caught a specific salmon, and also why I did not catch anything. This has given me valuable experiences which have increased my knowledge of fly fishing for salmon and not least a lot of good memories. And just this, good memories, is important for a salmon fisher, because you can use those memories to catch more salmon in similar conditions. It is also an important fact that you can enjoy the good memories during long dark winter nights when the thoughts are focused on the salmon river. And just because I am a so-called “thinking” salmon fisher I had a chat with Randulf a few years ago about this fly, in order to ask why he felt the fly was so effective. You can read this conversation below.

The excitement increases with these in the fly box.


Bent rod, with a Rotenon attached to the tippet.


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.
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.

Bent rod yet again…


Well, I like these theories so much that this fly has a permanent VIP seat in several of my fly boxes these days. Furthermore, what makes this fly interesting in many ways is that it is not very difficult to tie.
Here you can see Randulf’s tying instructions for his version of the Rotenon fly.

Tag: Red fluorescent floss.
Tail: Gold pheasant topping.
Body: Black floss.
Ribbing: Oval silver tinsel.
Wing: Black fox hair, with Flashabou mirage pearl.
Front hackle: Light blue hen hackle, sparsely dressed.

Fresh-run salmon will take his fly all the way up to the end of the season…


I use this pattern for all water levels as long as the water is clear, this means that I use many different fly lines when I fish this fly, but I have to admit that the two lines from Guideline named floating/sink3 and floating/sink5 are my biggest favourites. Another characteristic of this fly, especially as a big tube fly, is that it will catch salmon on the run as well, and just that is not normal for many flies.
Experience tells us that it can be very difficult to entice the salmon into striking a fly when it is running upriver, the odds are significantly improved when the salmon stops to rest, most fly-caught salmon are caught just at this time!
So this is worth considering! Other flies with the same abilities include, for example, Sunray Shadow, and not least the new Sunray tubes with the large muddler heads, you can read about these flies in part 1 of the articles of the flies of the year for 2009.

I recommend that you try a Rotenon fly for the next season, and just to be clear I can tell you that this pattern is fished on many different salmon rivers, and the fly often ensures a bent rod, ferocious runs and thus good memories for many salmon fishers.

Jan Erik.

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