Trapped in a cabin during a stormy fishing trip, the author spent his time creating a new caddisfly imitation.
[by Hans van Klinken]
I am now retired and have more time to go through my fly tying diaries. It is quite amazing to see how productive I was in the 1980s and 1990s. Some people claim those were the golden years in fly tying because everything seemed possible. Also, without the incredible world of the Internet, we relied on books and magazines for our information. A lot has changed since then, but I still think that every fly fisher and fly tier goes through different stages of development. I know that I was my most creative and progressed quickly as a fly tier from 1980 to 1999.
I developed most of my flies during those years, but I haven’t stopped making improvements to my patterns; today, I just do things a bit slower. This week I opened one of my diaries and read the early notes about a caddisfly pattern named the ParaPoly Sedge. It is another parachute fly that I developed just a few weeks after making the first Klinkhåmer Special. While reading those old notes, I almost immediately fell under the pattern’s spell and got the idea to tell you its story. It is always nice to hear how a good fly came to life.
It Happened on a Dark and Stormy Night
I tied the first examples of the Para-Poly Sedge during a terribly dark, cold, and rainy period. I remember it well because these are typically days when you don’t want to go outside. The temperature had dropped dramatically, and a raw east wind spelled no good. Although we normally camp beside the river, we were forced to rent a comfortable cabin. The bad weather held, and almost all our clothing became wet; a warm, luxurious cabin was our best solution.
I had just put some wood in the fireplace, and my wife felt relaxed reading a book beside the open fire. The fishing was extremely poor, so I tried making a special caddisfly imitation for a small tributary of the mighty Glomma River. I had not fished this tributary, but my best angling pal, who died in a tragic car accident that winter, had visited it frequently. We had just made plans to fish the river together that summer.
Experience has taught me that you should never ignore a good fishing tip, especially when it comes from your best friend. I knew that the river was famous for its excellent caddis hatches, so I tried to make a sort of universal sedge imitation. In addition to caddisflies, the river teemed with Baetis larvae, and I love to tie realistic nymphs. With the poor weather, I had plenty of time to play with the thread and feathers in my fly tying kit.
Looking through the fly box containing the first prototypes of my Klinkhåmer Special, I thought of a great idea for creating a nice parachute sedge pattern using the Klinkhåmer tying technique. I tied a few variations, and a few hours later I felt pretty happy with the results. I was eager to show my new experimental fly to the fish.
Hook: Daiichi 1280 or 1180, sizes 10 to 14.
Thread: Size 8/0 (70 denier), color to match the body.
Body: Fly-Rite Poly Dubbing or your favorite dry fly dubbing in colors to match the insects on your local waters.
Wing: Polypropylene yarn—white, blue dun, light dun, cream, or brown.
Hackle: Dry fly hackle—light ginger, ginger, light brown, or blue dun.
Note:Although most sedge imitations do not have thoraxes, you can add this component using a couple of wraps of peacock herl.
Starting the Para-Poly Sedge
And It Poured and Poured
In those days, the Glomma River could easily handle a lot of rain without discoloring, and its water level rose very slowly. The small tributaries, however, are different; their flows can change quickly, especially after a few days of rain. The tributary I wanted to fish looked okay that morning, but unfortunately it was no longer fishable in the evening. Thunderstorms in the highlands produced too much water that changed this peaceful little stream into a wild, turbulent river. I could only go the main stem of the river to see how well the flies floated and test some retrieving techniques that usually work extremely well when caddisflies are on the water. But the rain persisted, so I retreated to our cabin and continued filling my fly boxes with the new Para-Poly Sedge.
For the following several days, there was still too much water, and fishing was hardly possible. Wading was too difficult—even dangerous—and the best pools were completely flooded. Access to the river’s hot spots was not feasible and the fish were impossible to see. These were probably the worst fishing conditions I had ever encountered in this place, and they lasted for many days in a row. Of course, I still tried to fish, but without success. The fish were not interested in my new sedge imitation, and so I forgot about those experimental flies. You must agree that you cannot condemn a river due to extremely poor water conditions; a few years later, in much better weather conditions, I enjoyed great success on this river.
The Para-Poly Sedge had a weird beginning because I didn’t get a chance to test my new pattern in an objective way. The new fly stayed in my box for a long time with little use. To be honest, I used it on only two occasions, but during trips and in conversations with other anglers, I gave away quite a few flies, including some Para-Poly Sedges.
But There Is a Sunny Conclusion to My Story
Two years after first tying the Para-Poly Sedge, my attention was drawn back to this pattern. I received an enthusiastic letter from a fanatical German fly fisherman to whom I had given a few samples of the pattern to try on Scandinavian waters. He and his friends did extremely well with those flies, and he enjoyed his best trip to Norway and Sweden thanks to this pattern. The Para-Poly Sedge had become his absolute favorite fly, and today he keeps a full box of them in many different color variations.
I received another letter that same year, this time from the UK. It also contained favorable reports about the Para-Poly Sedge. It seemed that other anglers were having success with the fly. After that second letter, I decided to give the Para-Poly Sedge closer attention, so I tried it more intensively in various parts of Europe with far better results; I even caught grilse salmon on a small Norwegian river, and seatrout while fishing a few of the estuaries and sea pools of Norway’s Fosen Peninsula. I then tried the fly in Canada, where it became my ultimate sedge imitation.
Fish the Para-Poly Sedge in the surface film with the polypropylene yarn wing above the surface. Treat the wing with Fly-Rite’s Dilly Wax or something similar; it will float very well, and you will be able to make drag-free drifts or use more active retrieving techniques. The parachute hackle gives added attraction to this pattern and leaves a nice wake when retrieving the fly at the right speed, but do not retrieve it too fast. This active retrieve turned the Para-Poly Sedge into a real killer when fishing the lakes of Scandinavia and Canada.
Finishing the Para-Poly Sedge
Hans van Klinken is one of Europe’s leading fly designers. Hans travels the world in search of good fishing, and he is a terrific fly fishing and tying instructor. To learn more about his flies and to follow him, go to his website, www.flyfishinggazette.com.