Small variations

Small variations

Viking Lars | Saturday, 5 October 2019

Often it’s the small things that make the difference. Sometimes they’re obvious - sometimes not. When the trout takes a dry fly after the fourth drift over its lie, who can tell what the difference was? Maybe simply that it was the fourth time? Maybe just a few inches off to either side is all it took for the fish to react? Sometimes when covering a salmon lie, it also takes 4-5-6 swings to get a reaction, sometimes not until you’ve changed the fly.

Then I always wonder whether is was the new fly or simply the short break that made the difference - maybe the new fly is tied on a single hook that fishes a little deeper than the tube I cut off - or vice versa?

Although we’ll probably never know, I do like to not do the same thing over and over again. I like to make conscious decisions to fish the next cast slightly differently to the previous one. Maybe swing faster? Maybe cast the dry slightly further upstream? Maybe introduce a slight lift in the drift of my nymph? Maybe speed up the retrieve of my sandeel (glad I caught that autocorrect or the world would have thought I was fishing sandals) etc. etc.

I also like to vary the flies I fish - change patterns. Sometimes radically - from large and black to small and orange. From a 4-inch sandeel to a #12 gammarus. This weekend I was tying a few flies for the salmon/sea trout box. A friend needed some Willie Gunns for a trip to Russia this week, and I’ve always liked that pattern, and decided to tie some for my self, now that I had the materials out.

The Willie Gunn is one of the “classic” hair wing salmon flies from the UK. It’s not easy to find information on, but it seems to be from around 1940-50. The originator was an RAF Flt-Lt “Dusty” Miller. It was named after a man called Willie Gunn of Brora. He was the first to fish it, and did very well catching 10 salmon in 2 days.

I really like the colour scheme and as no. 5 was almost finished, ready for black overwing and front hackle, I got the idea to tie on a fiery brown overwing instead. That looked very nice, and didn’t go well with the black front hackle, so I exchanged that for a fiery brown ring neck pheasant body hackle and stuck on a gold bonehead instead of a black.

I was quite surprised at how much of a difference that made, and I’m sure the new fly will do well next season, and the one that’s in my box now will get company. And if I know at least one friend well, he’ll be asking for some once he sees these pictures.

With a few changes to the Willie Gunn I have yet another option for variation when fishing!

Have a great weekend!


For those interested - here’s the pattern for the Scandic-version of the Willie Gunn:
Tube: Pro Sportfisher FlexiTube.
Thread: UNI 8/0 Black.
Tag: Gold tinsel.
Body: Salmo Supreme Rainbow Black dubbing.
Wing 1: Yellow Pro Sportfisher Marble Fox, gold and pearl Angel Hair HD.
Hackle 1: Yellow hen.
Wing 2: Orange Sportfisher Marble Fox, gold and pearl Angel Hair HD.
Hackle 2: Orange hen.
Wing 3: Black Sportfisher Marble Fox, gold and pearl Angel Hair HD. A few strands of peacock.
Fronthackle: Mini marabou, black.
Head: Black Pro Sportsfisher Sonic Disc.

Alternative front hackle: Dyed orange ring neck pheasant.
Alternative wing 3: Fiery brown Sportfisher Marble Fox, gold and pearl Angel Hair HD.
Head: Gold Pro Sportfisher cone.