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Swedish Salmon Flies

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As the techniques for tying salmon flies have been simplified, Swedish salmon fishermen have been in the forefront of designing and developing new patterns for their long and often very big rivers. In this article for Fish and Fly, Swedish salmon fisherman James Andersson writes about four of his favourite flies.

In Sweden we have some pretty good salmon rivers. Some of the rivers are quite long and very big. The longest has nearly 500 km of salmon fishing. You can actually fish for salmon up at the Swedish tundraabove the Arctic Circle. It sure is a strange feeling standing in an environment that hasn´t got any trees at all, catching salmon! In most cases, you expect to catch grayling and arctic charr in that environment.

We Swedes have an old tradition of fishing for salmon with flies and fly rods. The tradition originates from Great Britain and so do most of the traditional flies we have used until the last few years. Now you see more and more personally-designed flies than ever before. I think that this has happened probably because the modern salmon flies is simpler to tie than the old ones. Because of the simpler tying technique you don´t need to have the same that expert skills as the flytiers needed some 100 years ago.

Many of the new patterns are very effective and they are often specially designed to suit our type of water. It should be said that the conditions regarding to water colour etc don´t differ much between Great Brittain and Sweden so I think that the flies we Swedes use can be of same interest to the Brittish salmon fisherman.

To start with, I have chosen one of my absolute favourites. It is an old grub pattern named Ullsock (Wool Sock). The fly was first tied for the Swedish salmon and seatrout river, Mörrumsån which is in Southern Sweden. Today you can see many versions of this fly along the banks of this river. I tie them in several versions but the pattern here is supposed to be the original version.


Thread: Black
Tag: Black wool
Tail: Red Wool
Butt: Brown cock hackle
Body: Black wool in two sections, mid body, brown cock hackle
Hackle: Brown cock hackle, collar style
Head: Black

This fly seems to work all through the day and in every kind of weather. My favourite time of the day to use it though is in the afternoon when the shadows have started to be a little bit longer over the river or maybe a cloudy day. I also have my own version of the Ullsock. This fly has a little bit more movement than the original fly. The fly also has some glittering flash tied in to make it more visible to the salmon. It will probably be very much alike all the other kind of variants that has been developed from Ullsocken along the banks of the river Mörrumsån.

Ullsock Special

Thread: Black
Tail: Fluoroscent marabou
Butt: Red breast feather from a cock golden pheasant
Body: Black wool in two sections, mid body, brown cock hackel with four strands of Crystal Pearl tied in reaching just behind the hook bend
Hackle: Brown cock hackle, collar style
Head: Black

The second fly I have called the Stripe Fly. This is a pattern I got from a friend named Pelle Ingvarsson. The fly can sometimes work real well in heavily fished waters like Mörrumsån. The look of the fly is a bit odd but it seems to attract the salmon in such a waters.

Stripe Fly

Thread: Black
Tag: Round silver tinsel, orange fluorescent wool, light green fluorescent wool
Body: Black wool with stripes of orange and green fluorescent wool along the body . The stripes are secured with the black body wool at the center of the body
Hackle: Black cock
Wing: Black squirrel
Head: Black

When I first took my little brother fishing for salmon he used this Stripe Fly. It was in the River Mörrsumsån, a hot day in mid July. We bought ourselves some afternoon licenses to fish during the hours when the sun goes down. The mid days were so hot that we couldn´t stand the heat in a pair of waders. My brother had never fished for salmon before so he couldn´t handle a two-handed rod. Instead he was using a more powerful, Daiwa, single handed rod. The first evening he got a brutal strike on his fly and 30 minutes later he had caught his first salmon, weighing 14kg. Only five casts later I caught a salmon as well, weighing 8,3kgs. Both were taken on Stripe Flies.

The third fly is created by a friend of mine, named Pekka Ruonala. The fly is named Black Pearl and it works really well in our Swedish rivers. Pekka has taken several salmon on this fly, both in Sweden and in Russia. The fly is easy to overdress when you tie it. I don´t think that will affect the way it catches salmon though. Pekka allways makes his flies heavily overdressed, and I have never seen any tendency that they catch fewer fish because of that. I make it more slim myself though so it will fit my kind of fishing.

Black Pearl

Thread: Black
Tail: Hot orange fox tail
Butt: Ice chenille
Body: Gold holographic tinsel
Ribbing: Gold oval silver tinsel
Hackle: Hot orange cock hackel
Wing:Blue American squirrel tail, 4-6 strands of blue crystal flash, hot orange fox tail, 4-6 strands of orange (or yellow) Krystal Flash, black fox tail on top
Head: Black

Pekka designs nearly all his own patterns. It has become his thing. He has several more interesting patterns but they could be the subject of another article.


For summer fishing I nearly always uses double hooks in sizes from 10 down to 2. For bigger flies I would use either tube flies or, in some cases, single hooks. I use Sprite doubles which I feel are good value for money. In the early spring I use different flies.

James Andersson is a fisheries bilogist who works with the development of sportfishing tourism in the county of Norrbotten in northern Sweden. He has been flyfishing for about 28 years and since about 1995 he has been flyfishing for salmon. He has always tied own flies.

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