söndag 22 januari 2012

Stradivarius < or = or > Split Cane Fly Fishing Rods


STRADIVARIUS < or = or > Split Cane Fly Fishing Rods

I met with a violinist a couple of weeks ago. Had a cup of coffee with him and started talking about music and suddenly he told me that he had been invited to one of the worlds most appreciated violinists in our time; Isaac Stern. Now I'm cutting to the chase. Isaac Stern said that Stradivari used to walk about in the woods and when he found a piece of wood he took it home and, did what? He just dropped it on the floor and then he knew where to use this particular piece of wood on the violin.

What has this to do with fly fishing? Everything. Both building an extraordinary violin and building a supreme split cane rod are both an ART. The same can be said about playing the violin (my favorite violinist has always been Ann-Sophie Mutter who owns two Stradivarius [The Emiliani built 1703 and the Lord Dunn Raven built 1710]) and fishing with an excellent split cane rod. I've tried quite some of those rods. Garrison, Dickerson, Sharpe and Farlow and the rod F. M. Halford used (at least the same type). I don't remember all of them but the one I have in my possession now, an Orvis Battenkill 704, is the one I prefer, it really is my cup of tea so to speak. It's my very own Stradivarius! Using it with a Phoenix Silk Line WF4 is like being in another world. It goes beyond description.

Match Stick Test on Two Parts of my Battenkill 704
Isn't it awesome what can be done with natural material? In this case split cane. It really is an art building this kind of rods. And fishing with them too. Usually it's not as easy as with carbon fiber rods or similar. I've fished this rod for some 12 years or so and it still is a joy to tackle it and perhaps put a tiny Jassid on the end of the tippet. Truly enjoyable.
Have fun with whatever you use fishing the fly,

fredag 20 januari 2012

The Red Hot stretch of Ljusnan 2012-01-19

Not so inviting for fly fishing, or?

This is how the stretch I usually fish in the river Ljusnan (and both upstream and downstream of it) looks now. Despite the mild winter it's frozen. So I'll have to wait to give it a try some months.

onsdag 18 januari 2012


I was asked to give some advice when it comes to fly fishing in a river like for example Ljusnan (I live in Bollnäs, “And a river [Ljusnan] runs through it”). That's not exactly an easy task. I have to go back to my early childhood to do that as best as I can. There are many fly fishers more experienced in that than I am.

I can clearly remember when I, at that time just a whig, was trying to catch a trout early one morning. We were camping in Norway and had set up our tent close to a brook. It was my dad, one of my older brothers and me there.

I specially remember one morning when my brother and I snuck out of the tent. Wearing nothing but pyjamas we started fishing in the brook. Since my older brother wasn't just older but also much stronger he decided that the best parts of the brook was his. He is now like 6 foot 6 or so and I don't even reach 6 foot. So he went upstream and I downstream of course. I had to submit myself to that authority.

At that time almost all I knew about fishing had to do with worms and big blueish Aberdeen bait hooks. So downstream I went with my rod that had a line tied to the tip, and on the other end of the line was the hook with a live worm on it. I beg all fly fishers, that feel that is an abomination of sport fishing, to forgive me for entering these lines in my story. A fact though is that many a good fly fisherman has started out using bait such as worms. Why, you might ask. The aim is the same: stealthy closing the range between yourself and the trout.

This particular morning was one of the first mishaps in this respect that I can remember. As I was walking down the brook in my pyjamas I saw the trout and it certainly saw me. It went fleeing for life downstream and I (about 5 years of age) went after him. First lesson learned; whatever you do, don't let the trout (or whatever fish you are after) SEE YOU. This of the obvious (not for a 5 year old boy though) reason that the whole enterprise will most certainly lead to failure. In the time of W. C. Stewart this might cost the whole family their food, since fishing was his livelihood.

OK, first lesson learned. Let's wind the time back a little to the point where my brother and I left the tent. He wasn't just stronger than I was. He also could understand where the best parts of the brook were. In Sweden we call it “reading the water” and this is something that a fisherman has to learn to be successful. It's a steady process going on all the times you spend near, in or on the water. With whatever experience you have there is only just a little you can convey of that kind of knowledge. About that you can read in just about any book dealing with fly fishing or fishing in general.

We've covered two general things now. STEALTH: which in this context means that you want to approach the trout without giving him a calling card so to speak. Clothing, movement and posture are all included in this. Not always, but generally, I think I can stand for what I've written so far. I won't go into details about this because that would make this blog a book. I was in fact thinking of publishing a book sometime but all the material, stories and outlines are left somewhere in a folder on this computer, another one or on a memory card somewhere. I just don't know where. I'm an absent minded man now, and I also was the same as a boy. So I've to take it from there.

If the first lesson is hard to specify then lesson number two is almost impossible. In general terms though the fish are a lot like humans. So, what does the trout look for in his habitat? Just right, food and shelter, or perhaps I should use the expression a hideout. That is number one and two on the list of the biggest, meanest son of a stitch, no of course I'm referring to the most experienced (not always the biggest) trout that can defend his territory well. I've had my eyes focused on a good spot (it can be seen in the picture of Ljusnan below) and a 3-4 lb (estimated in sight) trout jump high, chased away by another (stronger, meaner or just plainly more experienced one). That's what I call a real heart accelerator!!! I felt in that moment as if I just had been given CPR and started to breath again. Wow, what an experience!!!

So in general it's quite simple. Think about your clothing (florescent clothing would probably not do well; at least if we are focusing on wild fish), how you move towards the fish (no calling cards if avoidable), slowly getting close holding a low posture if possible. Hiding behind a tree has made many a day for fly fishermen. Personally I've crawled on my knees in the effort not to spook the trout I somehow knew was hiding there and feeding. Since I fish a lot alone I guess that people seeing me have thought for decades that I'm in need of a shrink. After that ask yourself: where can the trout find plenty of food with a hideout close by? A place where the trout doesn't have to waist to much energy to be “parked” there with a three dimensional “smörgåsbord” (people might think I'm from Sweden but I don't care) passing him by. It's my firm belief that nothing can substitute your own experience when it comes to this. Nevertheless I would give a final recommendation to a source that have inspired me a lot. The recommendation is as follows: If at all possible read Vincent Marinaros “A Modern DRY-FLY Code”. I have it just in front of me all the time where I sit tying flies.

Have fun fishing the way that appeals to you,

måndag 16 januari 2012

Big, beautiful, bad and naughty – Trout, Grayling, Perch and Pike

I'll let this brown trout illustrate the fishing options

In the picture below (one of my red hot zones in the river Ljusnan) you can see a nice pool approximately in the middle of the stretch of the river I usually fish in. Upstream there are more hotspots with fine trout and grayling. But that isn't all. In a fairly rapid fall I once was dry fly fishing and saw a grayling take the fly. But suddenly something almost ripped the rod out of my hand. Naturally I got very exited and wondered if my eyes had missed something, because the power I felt pulling from the other end of my tackle wasn't just a nice grayling, as my eyes had registered. No, it was far from that. When my heart frequency had stabilized somewhat I got curious (and naturally hopeful that it was a really big grayling that had taken my dry fly) of what was happening. 

Suddenly it was as if my tippet had been ripped off and I could just notice a vague resistance from the other end. I was of course very confused, thinking that a big grayling had taken my fly and gone south. I had barely given words to my thoughts (I had some friends fishing with me) when I almost lost my rod and all the gear again. I was just bewildered and didn't know what to make of it. Then I suddenly understood the situation. A stream pike had taken my grayling and almost ripped the fishing gear out of my hand. OK, I thought let him take it and let's see what he looks like. So I gave the line some slack to let the pike swallow the grayling (it was doomed anyway) and see if I can get the pike to get closer. I succeeded and the pike came my way until he caught sight of me. At that moment he just let go of what was left of the grayling and took a hike. I never saw him again.
The point I want to make is that this, relatively short, stretch of the river has something to offer something to all sorts of fishing. For me it mostly is dry fly fishing with tiny flies for trout or grayling. Very big pike (about 10-25 lb) are also around. Perch likewise is present for those who want to target them. To sum it up there are big trout, grayling and pike present here. Perch is also present but I haven't encountered any big ones of these. But big pike I've not just heard of but also seen evidence of them. Once I caught a 3 lb Rainbow Trout with it's stomach ripped up by a big pike no doubt (I ended the life of the poor trout but we didn't eat it since it was infected). That didn't stop a hedgehog to feast on it. I had left the trout outside the house in a plastic bag and when I came to get rid of it the bag was moving. I had scared the hedgehog that was eating of the trout and when he put in the reverse the handles of the bag caught him so I guess that hedgehog was scared out of it's wits. It gave us all a good laugh though and the day was made.

Have fun fly fishing,
 and fly fishing or the way you prefer to fish,

lördag 14 januari 2012

A Wider view of The Pool Where - MY ROCK - Is

One of the Red Hot Pools in the river Ljusnan just in the outskirts of the city.

The Rock - My Rock - The Second Part

OK, Back up on My Rock to finish off the secrets of the Rainbow trout in the picture with yours truly having a big smile in his face. The trout took my fly and when I attempted to set the hook I got very frustrated. I felt an awkwardness that is impossible for me to describe. Why? I imagine that y'all ask yourselves. A nice trout takes the fly and the guy holding the rod is moaning and feels like quitting??? What's wrong with him (that is me of course)? The answer is that I thought that the fly was stuck in a rock because there was no movement att all on the other end of my fishing gear. Just like a big rock in the other end of the leader. But, after a while, it started to come closer to MY ROCK. At that moment it all stood clear to me. At the end of my tackle, on the fly, with my rod like an arch ready to send away an arrow far, far from where I was standing, I had a very nice trout. I was surprised that it was coming closer although I put as much pressure on the trout as I dared. He came closer and closer by the inch. Suddenly I had him just below my feet standing on MY ROCK. Just in that moment I believe we had eyecontact. It's no question that the trout had seen me. I took off blazing like a greased lightning like 25 yards upstream in a single run. I knew that I could play him hard and that I had to do that if I wanted to see him again (more about that later on). The trout started zig zagging slowly towards me down the river. The line was sounding like a Stradivarius. Yes, it was the most beautiful concerto I've ever listened to. Better than “Quattro Stagioni” of Vivaldi played by Ann-Sophie Mutter on her Stradivarius. I was euphoric almost scared that the concerto would stop before it's crechendo and the trout would be gone with my fly. No, it couldn't happen. Not again! But yes, it had happened before. In the same place with his older brother, sister, cousin or whatever the relation was. Perhaps it was his Lady that had made a fool out of me earlier in the season. But that is another story. Inch by inch he came closer and closer until he saw me again and made a rush. But the power was not the same as before. After a few desperate tries to get away I finally got him close to MY ROCK. Since I didn't have a net climbing down from the rock, MY ROCK, was necessary. I was scared that the tippet would break and cause an anticlimax of this adventure. When wading in the water I could see that the trout was exhausted and so was I. The difference was that I was joyful and happy when I forced my thumb and forefinger into his mouth and taking a firm grip. His teeth were sharp and ripped my fingers bloody but I  didn't let go. I even remember taking my priest and as merciful as possible ending his life. At that moment I could see why I hadn't spooked him. He was blind on his right eye and I was fishing from the right side of him. Poor fellow! I couldn't help feeling sad at that moment. But yet still there I was, in the water, several yards from the river bank, with a nice trout in one hand and my rod in the other. Happy and forcing myself through the water to get to the river bank and enjoy the moment of knowing that we would have a nice trout feast at the anniversary of my wedding that was soon to come. That would make my family truly happy and I can assure you that it was a delicious trout prepared in a Swedish custom that I can't explain. Even though I feel inspired and have a beautiful crystal glass with some amber colored, wonderfully aromatic liquid still in it, I have to save the story about the trouts old relative for another time.

Have fun with tight lines or threads,


torsdag 12 januari 2012

THE ROCK - Not Alcatraz but "MY ROCK"

One of the hottest spots of the river Ljusnan close to my home

OK, now I'll climb up on the former mentioned ROCK again. That is what I actually feel - this rock  (not visible in the picture because it's covered with water) and myself are after all these years somewhat connected to each other. The Rainbow trout below took on my own small variant of a very popular fly today although this was quite a while ago. What I want to say is that I feel more satisfied when I catch trout on flies I've composed myself. Many times I've found that a very simple fly to tie in the right size attracts the trout (vary wild trout especially) more than flies with a "lot of whistle and bells" if you catch my drift. When it comes to this particular trout I think, (I don't think that trout can think and it's utterly impossible to get them to tell us why they took that particular fly) or I should say that I guess, (based on a more or less firm foundation of experience) that it was a little life built into the fly making it look like an insect that was about to die that made it take the fly. Anyway a drag free presentation and the size of the fly was of much more importance than which fly I happened to use. It's pretty obvious that I was glad and satisfied with the chain of events. I just look at the picture below, myself, and the same feeling warms my heart. Despite that this took place a pretty long time ago.

From MY Rock: Have fun in your fly fishing and fly tying,

A Medium Sized Rainbow Trout With A Story

A Medium Sized Rainbow Trout With A Story

Yours truly with a medium sized Rainbow Trout with it's own story. As you can understand this was a while ago  :-) . I had waded out to my favorite rock (I have spent long but delightful hours standing on that rock; not only delightful though because I almost disappeared from the map falling off that rock once) from where I knew that there was a nice trout feeding just within reach from there. My memory from it has degraded to bits and pieces now, but there are some interesting things that I still remember. First of all this was at a driving distance of at the most 10 minutes from where I lived at that time. So I was listening to the river. Reading it like a book. Becoming a friend with this stretch of the river Ljusnan. Something most of the fishing people don't do. They HAVE TO drive for hours to some water they are not familiar with just because others have told them to. It's not driving far that makes me react (I've done the same myself) but rather that it has become a HAVE TO. Lots of people that I know are TRAPPED in that behaviour. I need to be close to the water all the time and hence I mostly fish close to my home. For me it's natural that to be a good fly fisher, (this is a matter of interpretation but I think it's pretty obvious what I'm referring to by the context) one has to live in harmony with the nature and especially with the water and the living things that inhabit that water or live close to it. It might be a stretch of a river or a lake - harmony with the living things that surrounds us is inevitable to fully (to the limit we can) enjoy fly fishing. I'm expressing my opinion now but it isn't so easy to convey the true impression of what I want to say (one reason to that is that english isn't my language by birth - it's the "horrible swedish" -that is my language by birth - like foreigners here in Sweden might say). I think though that the idea will get clear by pondering over it for a while. OK now it's time to get back to the rock (but since it's 1.50 AM now (local time) I have to call it a day, although it's night, despite the fact that I'm a night owl, I have to rest) but that will be slightly postponed.

In the meantime have fun with your FF and FT,

tisdag 10 januari 2012


That is a fly that I composed (I don't know if that is the right expression) many years ago. It really lives up to it's name. Unfortunately I can't find the few I have left(?) of them among hundreds or thousands of flies I have more or less scattered around my apartment. I refuse to tie one on an unsuitable hook and Partridge has stopped the production of the hook in question. Just this weekend I found a hook that perhaps can replace the original of which I just have in the wrong size now. Should arrive shortly. I'll tie that fly and post it if i don't find the most rescent original since the fly has gone through a big transition during the years. But I hope that I find them at last. I can promise that it's worthwile seeing it.

Have fun your way,

måndag 9 januari 2012

Triggers Used In Tiny Flies - 2

Some of the triggers that can attract wary trout shows better on this photo. Grateful if anyone would give some input on this. One of the triggers is almost copied from one of the triggers Andy Baird uses on one of his prime patterns. Sorry for the quality of the photos but I don't have the macro photo equipment that I used during the 70'ties. That equipment would have been handy now.

Triggers Used In Tiny Flies - 1

Guess what? I'm thinking about triggers. This isn't a good photo but I think that some triggers can be found that wasn't on the first post I made of an original looking Jassid. I would be very grateful to get some input about possible triggers on this fly before I post the tying description.