From the onset of summer right through until late autumn, Tomas Kolesinskas turns to a Norwegian pattern which sports a green body
This pattern came to Scotland via my good friend in Ireland, Dr Saulius Satas. Saulius is not only a good friend, he’s also a very keen fly fisherman. The pattern came to him through a recommendation to him from a Norwegian gillie on the river Gaula. So this super British pattern is also a traditionally based, cracking Norwegian fly!
A while ago, Saulius asked me to tie a dozen of this pattern for his impending trip to the Gaula. Intrigued by this pattern, and also the large number of samples Saulius
required, I couldn’t help but make a few for myself!
I then fished a few times with the fly on the Tay, but it produced nothing for me. I probably hadn’t been fishing it properly, and had neither trust nor confidence in the pattern. Probably because of its bright green fluorescent body. Now I understand that it was my big mistake!
A few years ago, in late autumn, I’d been fishing with friends on the river Tay. After a day on the river we had nothing - no touches, no pulls, but we’d seen plenty of moving fish.
We tried everything, but after another day of hard work, we could only boast of a few gentle takes bewteen us. We weren’t the only ones. We met more anglers that night, and discovered they’d had nothing either. After a long chat and plenty of ‘Scottish juice’, we decided to carry on our salmon fishing, but this time we’d try something different, something unusual, for the day.
But what to put on? I let to my friend choose any fly he liked from my fly boxes. He saw the Wolf fly in my box, picked it out and said “let’s attract Scottish salmon with Norwegian pattern”. A black fly with a green body in autumn? I was laughing inside, but it was my last laugh for that day.
In less than an hour he landed three nice fish and had lost a big salmon on that same fly. Worse, the salmon took the fly with it. Now I was a bit upset, as it was the last Wolf fly in my box.
That evening I spent at my tying vice, working on just one pattern – the black fly with a green body – the Norwegian Wolf!
We ended up enjoying a good last week of the season week on the river Tay; lots of fun, and lots more fish… Since then, my confidence in the Wolf has soared. I always knew that green as a fly colour works well in Norwegian waters, but in the Scottish rivers to me a green-bodied fly was a new challenge. I am still looking for the answer why a bright green fluorescent body should work perfectly in Scottish rivers. At least, it works perfectly on the river Tay.
This fly is very simple: a bright green fluorescent body, a short, hot orange tippet tail with black hackle and wing of natural, red and black squirrel. The red fluorescent butt is my only innovation to this pattern, and my only indulgence. The secret to this fly is to dress it very lightly. Over-dressing it kills it! It is important to focus on fly dressing techniques and materials that combine in a way to catch salmon under different conditions using a fly which is not only easily dressed, but also elegant, too. I only include what I think is important – like the red butt! Some tyers complicate things for the sake of the tying exercise and show, I tie to catch fish, not to put flies in a frame for the wall. Thomas Clegg used to say tying isn’t ‘art’ it’s a craft, and you need to concentrate on what’s required to catch the fish! The Wolf has all those essential elements in a simple fly.
Since our first discovery of the Wolf, I have tied the fly in a range of different styles and sizes and all of them have worked well. Also, I now have my own variations of the fly with a copper body and this has produced a few nice fish for me, too. Also, some advice on that tail of hot orange pheasant tippets - don’t be tempted to tie them too long, as a short tail gives better stability to the fly when it swims.
Fishing the Wolf
This fly works perfectly well in the autumn, of that there is no doubt. However, this has also become a reliable back-up fly in my box whenever I am hunting salmon. I’ve found that it works well for the grilse in summer time; tied on the smaller sized hooks or micro-tubes. Usually, I start to fish with this fly from the time when the grilse first appear in the river. It works well all through the day, so I can confidently tie it on from early summer until the end of the season. I’ve found that a size 14 works better in late summer evenings, especially on a long, 18ft monofilament leader. This is when I think that the red fluorescent butt really kicks in, giving it more visibility to the fish. As the autumn closes in, I’ll increase the fly size but I’ll never go bigger than size 8 or a 1.5in tube.
Now, whenever anyone asks: which fly? The answer is an easy one for me... it has to be the Wolf.
A tip on flash
I have found that most fly tyer's add flash that is cut to the exact length as that of the wing. I don't do this any more. I like to cut the flash about 3mm longer than the wing-tip. Why? Having studied how flies work in the water I've found that tying in this style gives more movement to the fly and it helps make the wings tips sparkle; it gives a better impression of life and is more attractive and visibile to the fish. It may be only 3mm, but it's a big tip!
Tomas Kolesinskas hails from Lithuania, where he ran a tackle shop. Since moving to Scotland five years ago he has dedicated much of his time to fishing for Atlantic salmon.
The Wolf (Vargen)
Hook: Partridge Salar or Patriot, size 9.
Thread: Veevus 12/0 black/red.
Varnish: Loon Hard Head clear.
Tag: 5–6 turns of oval silver tinsel/wire.
Butt: Glo-Brite fluorescent floss, No.4 (red); varnished 3 times!
Tail: Hot orange golden pheasant tippets.
Body: Bright green Mylar body ribbed with oval silver tinsel/wire.
Wing: Natural, red and black squirrel, 2 inches long; 2 strips of flash.
Hackle: 3 turns of black hen/cock feathers.
Head: Black/red or finished with Glo-Brite fluorescent floss, No.4 (red).
Cheeks: Jungle cock.