Fly philosophy & preparations ahead of a long season

I am heading for the great adventure soon – again. First a trip to Eastern Canada dry fly fishing for Atlantics (what the Americans and Canadians affectionately call Atlantic salmon). Then a short R&R in Denmark, before heading up to the Big North on a one-month road trip much like last year’s. I will fish 5 different Norwegian rivers. So before that some time to reflect on the flies and their importance. On the photo some flies I had coastal fly fishing guru Morten Jensen, aka @flyfishing_crazyeyes, tie for me with great materials from Frödinflies – unfortunately I very seldom have spare time to tie these days due to an impressive workload to free up enough resources to fish like hell for 3-4 months a year! I will bring classics and variations of classics like Black Green Helmet, Willie Gun etc. 

You know, the fly is everything and sometimes nothing. Let me explain; the shape, form, tone and movement in the water of the fly is crucial – everything. For example, a very small fly on a heavy sinking line would rarely work. The movement of the tiny fly dragged down deep by the heavy line would simply not seem natural. And the opposite, a very bushy fly on a floating line would in most cases just not work well for salmon fishing (but a slim and long fly like a Sunray Shadow or a Samurai can work very well). If you do this the fly is “nothing”. So, in essence the angler needs to adapt the flies characteristics to a multitude of factors. Water clarity, temperature, height, speed, air temperature, light of day or night. But he also needs to adapt the fly according to his rod and line setup. Big flies for early season high and cold water is the norm, swung on heavy sinking lines with powerful rods. Small flies for full summer conditions with low, clear and warmer water, fished on floating lines with light rods is also “a norm”.

And then there is all the in-between, which really tests your ability to pick the right form, shape, tone etc. for the fly, and the right line setup. Finally, add to this equation that there are in fact no “rules” in salmon fishing and every season countless salmon fly fishers are amazed by what the incredible creature, Salmo Salar, will do to break every conceived wisdom in fly fishing. And that is why our sport is so fascinating, no modern day or future algorithm will ever be able to solve our mystery!

//Jan Delaporte