Fly Philosophy from a Fly Fisherman
Lots of new fly patterns are created every single day, year round. 95% of them are old proven patterns which are just being modified and then marketed as “the one and only that will empty all waters and make you the most successful angler out there”… “All you have to do is to add this new modified fly to the end of your line and ta da – like magic – you will catch fish like never before”.
There is no doubt that tying flies is a great sport in itself, great entertainment and, for many, a positive addiction. However, fly tying is also a business where a demand is created for a reason.
For some fly tiers, it is all about seeing how many different and special materials they can incorporate into a new pattern, and again how many different colors they can make this pattern in. As a practical fly fisherman, I only see that this is done to create sales and confusion, and really doesn’t have anything to do with increasing your chances on the water on any given day.
Just to be clear, I’m not trying to be offensive to fly tiers. I respect them very much for their innovations, ideas and creations. However, I strongly believe that fly tying is a sport, which in many cases has nothing to do with making you a more effective fly fisher. As a fly fisherman, you need flies of course, but in my point of view, you need very few flies, but you need to know exactly how these flies should be fished. Fly fishing flies are actually very different from the beautiful creations professional fly tiers make these days. As a fly fisherman, it is really not a big deal if the colors on your fly are a bit pale or faded – or if the hair used in the fly wasn’t picked from a spring goat on the north side of Mongolia just before the first full moon in November…
No, for fly fishermen it is generally very simple. I am sometimes tempted to say that as long as it is black and moves perfectly in the water, the rest is pretty much up to the one holding the handle. However, the important thing is that the fly fisherman believes 100% in the fly he uses and it gives him no doubt. If so, it can bring him into a state of mind where he is 100% focused and all his attention is on the fishing. In other words, he will “be the fly” – searching the water, trying to trick that one fish willing and ready to bite. In my point of view, this will remove all doubt and make him concentrate on fishing the fly efficiently.
In my opinion, to become a successful fly fisherman you must have faith in your fly, but more importantly you have to practice your cast until you can present your fly on many different distances and in many different water levels. However, never farther away from you than you can present it well and actually control it. Most of all, “work it and feel it swim or drift” – this is what I believe true fly fishing has always been about since it was introduced to us.
During my time as a fly fisherman, I have pretty much always fished with the same type of flies/patterns. I have always been relatively “lucky” to get fish, even on difficult days, no matter where I was fishing. I think one of the main reasons for this is that I place more importance on how the line and the leader are placed on and in the water – and how the fly is presented. I also evaluate how the pattern in different sizes I am using should be fished under various conditions, such as different water levels and shifting lights, etc.
When I see the profiles of my flies in the water, I believe in them and I have learned how to fish them, which transforms my mind into a state where I become the fly seeking the fish - not just the fly caster sending the fly out over the water, hoping for something to bite it.
In the future, I will add some of my most successful fly patterns here to give you an idea of what I fish with and have always fished with. These patterns have proven themselves to me again and again over many years. These are flies that have never caused me any doubt and flies that I would never take off once first tied on.
Fox Double Hook (DH) Series
The Fox double hook series is a selection of salmon- and sea trout flies that I have used successfully over the last many years. They are for the middle of the salmon season, especially under lower water conditions, in situations where you need something other than a tube fly. The Fox DH flies are “lighter” dressed flies on strong double hooks. The strong double hook makes it possible to play a salmon or a sea trout faster.
The patterns and the color choice on the Fox flies are created to match all the different “lighting” conditions and water colors you can experience as a salmon/sea trout fly angler throughout the season.
For the Fox double hook series, I prefer not to use a steering knot as it tends to pull the fly sideways in the water. I recommend a loop knot that will make the fly move enticingly through the current.
Arctic Shadow Flies
The Arctic Shadow flies have proven themselves extremely efficient over the last years, when fished under the right conditions. I mainly use this type of fly when I fish relatively strong currents/river flow, where I want the whole fly to move and “dance” with the current, or according to my stripping technique. This is a fly that moves completely different from how a traditional “soft” hair fly moves.
The fly is made so that it maintains its shape at all times. It is made of materials that do not get saturated by water. As a result, I have achieved two important effects: One, it looks bigger than it actually is, and two, it can be cast on very light lines – which is an advantage, as it disturbs the water less and therefore spooks the fish less.
Salmon Dry Flies
Dry fly fishing for salmon can result in high blood pressure - now you have been warned! Nothing is more exciting than seeing a salmon breaking the surface and closing its mouth around a dry fly.
When you have tried this once, a lifetime addiction is born, that is a promise!
For the past 20 years, 40% of my salmon fishing in the summertime has consisted of fishing flies on the surface. I have tried many different patterns over the years. The dry fly patterns we present to you here are the patterns that have proven themselves outstanding, under many different conditions.
Gaspé Shadow Flies
This is my all time favorite salmon and sea trout fly. This is not one of those typical overdressed salmon flies that looks great out of the water, yet hangs and drags when fished. The Gaspé Shadow fly is an elegant swimmer, and it is very deceiving coming across. The profile of this fly in the water is unbelievable. I have used this fly all over the world, and I have caught more salmon on this fly type than on any other – and this is not because I have used it the most – but mainly because this fly is a magnet.
There is just something about this fly that makes you fish better and makes you believe in your fishing. This is a true fly fishermen’s fly. Although not big in size, it is guilty of landing lots of salmon for me above the magic 20lb mark.
Having a good double hook to balance your tube fly is really important!
We have searched the market and found the “one”, and also the sizes that we believe are the best for tube fly fishing for salmon, sea trout and steelhead.
The hook that we recommend has a straight needle-eye and it is chemically sharpened. The wire is hardened and therefore very strong, without being too thick. The double hooks we recommend have a wide hook gape and forged bends and a relatively short shank.
When fly fishing in catch and release water, it is easy to squeeze the barb in. Even with the barb squeezed in, they seem not to lose their grip in the fish due to the perfect bend point.
We carry double hooks in the following sizes: #10 - #8 - #6
ProSportfisher Hook Guides
When I fish with tube flies I always fish with my hooks loose, meaning not attached to the tube. There are several good reasons for this but my main reason is that when I fish with a double hook, the hook will always turn upside down, and 90% of the time it will get attached in the upper part of the fish’s mouth. When the fish is hooked here, it very seldom gets away and, even better, it is easy to remove the hook without harming the fish when being released again.
In the past, I used to cut plastic tubes into small pieces and used those. However, a few years back, I was introduced to Pro Sportfisher’s hook guides. It is the best hook guide I have ever used. It is made from ultra strong “high stretch” silicone and it is conical. The thin end has to go over the hook-eye and will thereby protect the knot. The front end of the hook guide will then be perfectly aligned to the tube fly and the fly will swim balanced and not be controlled by the hook.
The hook guides are available in different colored versions, and my suggestion is that you pick one that matches your fly’s underwing. The hook guides we sell will match hooks in sizes # 10-6 – this is our recommendation.