Viking Lars | Saturday, 2 April 2022
As most of you will know, I have a long standing love affair with historical fly patterns. When you know enough of them, both the patterns them selves and the tying techniques, you realise that true innovation is quite rare. New materials have indeed brought innovations, probably also improved the effectiveness of old patterns. And as much as I love old flies, I’m certainly no stranger to new, modern flies and modernising old flies. Apart from the S…..y W…y!
I was scanning all my old cut-out-articles from fly fishing magazines and came across a 25 year old, Danish fly called Son of a Beach. A lovely pattern in gold and red, tied as a classic streamer. It’s a new interpretation of another Danish fly, The Gold Digger, from the 1950s (today’s PoD).
The Gold Digger was first tied by Danish Paul Wellendorf, who was a fishing, fly fishing and writing notability in his time. Several books and countless articles to his name. The Gold Digger was one of the first streamers in Denmark to feature hairwings. Wellendorf had international relations and got the inspiration from early, American streamers. Fly fishing in salt water was *very* new in the 1950s, practised by very few, so The Gold Digger was meant for brown trout.
Its name, I’m sure, refers to the colours of the fly as well as the intended prey, the hunt for the rare gold in the shape of big browns and the fact that they often hold in deep holes in the streams and rivers.
There’s really one one streamer left I use regularly, the Mickey Finn, but years and years ago, I often used Henrik Agerskov’s Son of a Beach in the autumn, where it seemed quite effective. It’s been in the box since, seen occasional use only.
I was tying some small (size 10 doubles) salmon flies for a friend and decided to tie them with squirrel tail as a wing instead of artic fox, which is the golden standard in Scandinavia these days. And that’s what I think we should bring back - squirrel tail is a lovely material for wings. As I was looking through the squirrel tails, I came across some natural brown ones, a lovely, chestnut brown colour and remembered The Gold Digger and Son of a Beach.
I tied some for the box, because they are still was effective as ever and for me, there’s something just a little special about catching fish on old patterns. They have another advantages - the fly flies like a dart through the air, very little wind resistance.
And not being a total purist and stranger to using new materials in flies, below is the modern, teenage version of The Gold Digger. Tied on a shorter streamer hook, with tail and hackle of fluorofibre rather than hackle fibres (you know it doesn’t work in 2022 unless it has some fluorescence in it).
Tie some old flies if you are not fishing!
Have a great weekend!