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Helsinki Spey Clave’s traditional spring demoday.
Wasn’t working yesterday but managed to sneak couple hours to my day to go and take some photos at Helsinki Spey Clave. They had Håkan Norling, Tuomas Rytkönen and Heikki Turunen tying flies at the shop during the day and in the evening moved to the close by river to test out new rods and lines for the coming season. They had a quite good turnout but there was of course room for even more guys to come and cast the rods. I don’t even want to try and guess how many rods were available to test but they had pretty much the entire lineup from Vision, Guideline and C.F. Burkheimer plus some rods from Scott and G. Loomis as well. Plenty to choose from.
The most interesting stuff for me and possibly the readers of this site happened however indoors at the shop during the day. Håkan doesn’t need much of an introduction to guys familiar with tubeflies but he’s the guy who brought the Templedog style to fly tying which his friend Mikael Frödin helped to popularize. He’s very inventive tyer and not as much of a showman as Micke which explains why he has never reached the worldwide fame of his friend, but I think he prefers it that way. I’ve seen Håkan tie numerous times but it has been many years since last time and it was nice to see how he used the new SSS materials on his latest flies.
Heikki and Tuomas are probably better known only in Finland but both have been working in the industry for a long time. Tuomas works at Vision as a product manager and was preparing for the pike season which fully starts any day now. He tied some Hollow Deceivers with a fairly large head formed from Tuffleye UV-resins. Heikki is also known as an innovative fly tier and was showing Letrajet Airmarker, an airbush for Promarker pens, to make stripes and coloring on his flies. Interesting stuff and even intrigued Håkan to tie a white fly which was then painted with olive and blue stripes and little pink glow under the wing. Take a look at the photos to see some of the flies.
More of my photos from the day can be found at Helsinki Spey Clave’s Facebook Page.
Spring is here!
Was fishing yesterday and the stoneflies are starting to hatch finally with the temperature rising above zero for the first time since last fall. Not too many active fish eating them yet but that’s just about being in the right spot at the right time. Now all I need is more time to be at the river when all pieces of the puzzle fall in place.
Frederic Tolfrey’s Jones’s Guide to Norway from 1848 is perhaps the most sought after book for salmon fly tyers collecting 1st editions of the classics. Not least because the book has some of the most beautiful fly plates by the Adlard brothers. You can expect to pay 5000-7000$ for a good copy when you find one. There are re-prints that you can get for much less and of course free pdf on archive.org.
This fly is also one that I tied in hand without a vice as the originals were made. I was fortunate to find such thin tippet feathers for the wing to give it a low profile that I like. Almost always I tie tippets full length from the very base so that I get a bit slimmer profile. When done correctly with a good base you don’t have to do those exaggerated Z-bends many tiers do today on their display flies. Most of my flies that are meant for display I try to do as I would do a fishing fly and those Z-bends will straighten when the fly wets thoroughly. So I doubt they were tied like that originally so why do it now?
Here’s the pattern straight from the book.
Hook: No. 7,8 or 9
Tail: Golden Pheasant Topping
Tip: Silver twist and Crimson silk
Body: Pale blue, yellow, claret and dark blue Pig’s wool at the shoulder.
Legs: Claret hackle
Throat: Guinea-hen and blue Hackle.
Ribbed: Gold Tinsel and silver Twist.
Wing: Two Golden Tippets, a little Bustard, and two golden Toppings over all.
Horns: Blue Macaw
Head: Yellow Mohair
GoExpo Fishing Fair 2013 in Helsinki
I was again working at the Helsinki Spey Clave stand during the fair. This year we had invited Mikael Frödin to tie his beautiful tubeflies at our stand and also Tommy Aarkvisla from C.F. Burkheimer pro team to do casting demos on the pool.
As usual the fair had pretty good turnout and it was great to catch up with fly fishing friends that came to the show. Micke always draws a big crowd so we had some good buzz at the stand when he was tying flies. He has some new materials coming to the Salar Salmon Series very soon and was excited about the new glow tube on F.I.T.S.. Håkan Norling was also demonstrating the Guideline rods and lines with his massive set of demo gear.
It was a true pleasure to meet and spend time with Tommy who is a skillful caster and instructor. I didn’t have time to watch the casting demos that much but I’m sure that many visitors left the fair with a healthy dose of new casting info. I’ll be watching closely on the results of Spey-O-Rama this year where I’m sure Tommy will place on the top podium.
As promised we also had the Bug Launcher Challenge accuracy competition and had some Finnish actors and celebrities competing with the visitors. All the profits from the competition are going straight to salmon conservation. The winner was Dmitri Borovkov from Estonia who’s been regularly showing Finn’s how to cast in our competitions. He’s a great fly tyer as well I might add.
Another pleasant meeting was with Tim Volk, the product manager from Waterworks-Lamson, who had come to see what the Finnish fair is like. Great guy and because he spent most of the weekend with us at our stand and the after party I had plenty of time to chat about the reels and fishing with him. I only have one of their reels the ULA Force in use but the new Speedster has been staring at me in Spey Clave’s reel cabinet and I have to consider taking it with me this summer to the river.
No. 4 for salmon from The Driffield Angler
This was a practice fly I did on how to make a reversed wing on an salmon fly in hand. Not a common winging method today on feather winged flies but makes for a very durable wing. This was the second time I tried to tie the wing like this and first time I folded the wing over itself from the top. Felt a bit stupid this time as the friends I was tying with asked why I don’t fold it from the side. So now I folded the near wing first towards me and then to the correct position and folded the far side wing away from me. Much easier to do it that way. I added a photo of William Blacker’s book from 1843 where there are actual flies glued to the pages showing you the stages. Here’s the description from the book.
1. The hook is tied on the gut.
2. The wings are tied on at the end of the shank, the reverse way.
3. The hackle is tied on at the point, with the tinsel to rib the body
4. The tail and body is formed.
5. The tinsel is rolled up, and then the hackle, in like manner.
6. The wings are turned in their proper place, the head formed, and secured with the tying silk.
The fly I tied however is not from Blacker’s book but instead from Alexander Mackintosh’s The Driffield Angler. I used Turkey on the wing instead of Kite. The proportions should probably be more like the ones on Blacker’s book with a lighter tail and a bit heavier wing.
A fourth fly for salmon, Alexander Mackintosh The Driffield Angler 1806
Wings: Speckled feather from a Kite or Buzzard’s wing.
Tail: Four strips of copper-coloured feather of the Mallard.
Rib: Small gold twist.
Hackle: Dark blue cock.
Body and Head: Light blue hog’s wool and a little lead-coloured mohair mixed.
Sandeman’s No. 3
Fraser Sandeman is one of the old legends who is not so well known today. His two books “By Hook and By Crook” and “Angling travels in Norway” are however very interesting to read and should be considered as some of the standard books of the period in my opinion.
As many other tiers of our time I first found out about Sandeman in Marvin Nolte’s article on The Salmon Flyer from 1999. The article is found here and is well worth the read. The article is also a good reminder of how hard it was to get information about these flies even ten years ago. Today a quick search on Google will get you the book in pdf for free and you’re tying the flies in no time. I sort of miss the old days even though I’m a lot younger than most tyers of these flies. The constant search and finding new patterns and books was very satisfying and it’s a shame new tiers won’t experience it like the older ones. But on the other hand I might have never found these books also without the aid of internet. I have the first edition from 1892 of “By Hook and By Crook” but unfortunately not the large paper edition Marvin has which is even more rare than my copy being limited to only 100 copies.
I tied the fly pictured in hand without the aid of a fly tying vice with just a piece of Gossamer thread, scissors and hackle pliers. And plenty of good traditional wax, which is a must when tying in hand. It takes some practice and I’m nowhere near an expert in this matter but it’s a nice challenge and I’ve found myself doing it more and more. I might have to do an article about it someday when I get better at it. This one is also tied to be fished and I hope I’ll have a chance to swing it to a Salmon next summer.
No. 3 from Fraser Sandeman’s “By Hook and By Crook” 1892
Tag: Silver tinsel
Tail: Yellow floss silk
Body: Pale blue silk; silver tinsel
Body-hackle: Pale Blue
Shoulder-hackle: Reddy brown
Wings (mixed): Light Mallard, Golden Pheasant tail, a few fibres of yellow dyed Swan, a couple of sprigs of Golden Pheasant rump.
“This is especially good for thin water.”
Another classic salmon fly that is found in many variations in the old books. This one is tied according to the pattern in T.E. Pryce-Tannatt’s How to dress Salmon Flies (1914) that is usually concidered to be one of the last classic books on salmon fly tying. The pattern again differs a bit from the older ones published. The Greenwell is usually said to have been designed by the famous Tweed tyer James Wright and it could very well be true after all he knew C.W. Greenwell who designed the famous Greenwell’s Glory and had Wright tie it to him. Kelson for example is very specific in his Land & Water series that this is one of Wright’s original patterns and named after Canon Greenwell.
I tied this one a bit larger than usual on a 6/0 hook so I had to omit the teal mentioned in the pattern as first part of the married main wing as there simply isn’t one long enough. Also used different kind of turkey for the white-tipped under wing than usual. This one has a nice light mottled base as opposed to the more traditional dark brown but I think it suits the pattern nicely.
The underwing is probably the most crucial part on a fly like this as it’s hard to tie in so that it sits low and doesn’t kick up and get hidden inside the main wing. There are few things you can do to prevent this. First the point where you tie the under wing should be as flat as possible. This means that you must build it up with your tying thread so that the base is leveled with the bump caused by the throat hackle. The tie in point should also be leveled so that it’s not slanting forward at an angle. When these preparations have been made it should now be a bit easier to tie in the white-tipped turkey. Moisten the fibers from the tie in point. Hold the slips parallel to the shank when tightening down and it should lay nice and low. You can then hump the wing by drawing the top fibers from the shoulder forward(and up) and it will make the wing curve down a bit. Check the tie in point so that the wing has compressed nicely and there are no creases.
The Greenwell as per T.E. Pryce-Tannatt
Tag : Silver tinsel.
Tail : A topping and a pair of Jungle Cock feathers (back to back).
Butt: Black herl.
Body : Pale blue floss.
Ribs : Broad flat silver tinsel and twist.
Hackle : A pale blue hackle.
Throat : Widgeon.
Wings : A pair of black white-tipped Turkey tail strips (back to back) ; over these, but not entirely hiding them, a mixed “sheath” of “married” strands of Teal, yellow and blue Swan, Bustard, Florican, and Golden Pheasant tail ; ” married ” narrow strips of Pintail and barred Summer Duck ; narrow strips of brown Mallard over.
Cheeks : Jungle Cock ; a topping over.
Horns : Blue and Yellow Macaw.
The Yellow Anthony
Here’s a neat little pattern from Francis Francis’s A Book on Angling where it’s recommended for the river Lee in Cork, Ireland. Unfortunately the river today isn’t in all of its former glory because it has been dammed for a hydro-electric scheme although you can still catch salmon in the lower parts.
Here’s what Francis Francis had to say about it back then:
“The Lee is in parts rather a quiet placid river ; in many places, however, it breaks out into fine bold pools and streams, which form the very beau-ideal of the angler. It is not a very early river, though occasionally giving a spring fish or two to the persevering angler ; but it gives capital sport later on. In parts it is a good deal cross lined”
He also notes that Blacker tied many of the patterns with joint-hackles but in his opinion they do not add to the attractiveness of the fly and are too much trouble to tie. The patterns he lists for the river Lee he had bought from a local dealer, Hackett of Cork.
I really like the colors of this pattern and it’s very simple to tie and doesn’t require much of hard to find materials. It’s also nicely suited for smaller hooks as the ones pictured. The pattern calls for a butt made from a scrap of yellow mohair. I chose to incorporate the mohair as the first section of the body but brushed it out heavily to make sort of a hackle near the bend.
The Yellow Anthony
Tag: Silver twist.
Tail: A topping
Butt: A scrap of yellow mohair
Rib: Fine silver twist
Bodyhackle: Silver grey dun
Body: Bluish silver grey wool or fur
Hackle: Dirty yellow
Wing: A bit of Peacock with Mallard over it
Horns: Blue Macaw
Helsinki Spey Clave Bug Launcher Challenge
Here’s a bit of Friday fun for you all. We had a new type of playful casting competition inside the shop at HSC with a miniature obstacle accuracy course. Everyone used the Bug Launcher office rod from TFO which is designed for indoor practice. We added a runningline to it to get more distance for the longest casts.
Next competition will be held in the beginning of March at GoExpo fishing fair in Helsinki.