A story about fishing partners and a new fly.
[by Hans van Klinken]
IN THE DELICATE ART OF FISHING NYMPHS, our choice of flies is generally limited to unweighed nymphs, flymphs, and emergers. I have added a pattern that I think encompasses properties of all these flies. I have given it a striking name, Remerger, because of a story related to my wife, Ina. She fishes this pattern using a presentation that is contrary to the normal movements of insects.
Before sharing this pattern with you, I must first take you back to our fishing trip to Norway in the summer of 1991. This was the first year in which Ina began using a fly rod, but I could not actually classify her as a complete novice. In preparation for that trip, she had spent several weekends during the winter taking casting lessons from my good friend Rudy van Duijnhoven. Rudy is one of the most skilful fly-casting instructors I know; with him, Ina had the opportunity to learn the basics of fly casting in a short period of time.
Once Ina was comfortable with the basics of casting, I taught her how to build a leader, and how to chose and connect the required tippet. Finally, I showed her how to tie on flies using different knots. When we reached Norway, all that was left was to show her how to read a river and wade without disturbing the trout, and, of course, how to actually fish in running water.
First Dry Fly Experiments
Having my wife fishing by my side gave me an enormous boost to develop fresh flies. Her questions stimulated new thoughts and ideas. As a bonus, now that we were both fly fishing, I could test twice the number of new patterns. Under normal conditions, the most successful method I have to gauge the “catching ability” of new flies is to change them frequently when the fishing is good. Most anglers change patterns when they are not catching anything at all; it is human nature to stay with a productive fly and not experiment when the fish are biting. In any event, now that Ina and I were fly fishing together, I could experiment more when the fishing was good. On the flip side, when the catches were very poor, we were able to search for the most successful flies together.
When we arrived at our cabin, we took a short rest, but it was not long before we went out for Ina’s first real day of fly fishing. The location I picked was a small tributary of the Glomma River situated not far away from the beautiful old mining town of Røros. I had a very good feeling about our chances of success that day: the weather was awesome; the water temperature, level, and quality could not have been better; insect life was abundant; and Ina was highly motivated. I did not fish that day, but concentrated on helping her read the water, locate the fish, and recognize the best seams in the river. We went through everything in easy, slow steps.
Ina fished a size 10 Klinkhåmer tied with a black body of herl fibers that was ribbed with yellow tying silk. The fly had a large white wing that was clearly visible against the dark current. One of the best features of the Klinkhåmer Special is the big white wing; it is very easy to spot in fast running water, especially a tannic-stained river.
My diary records that Ina caught 13 fish on her first day of fishing. I was proud of her that day!
Nymphing for Whitefish and Grayling
After a second day of successful dry fly fishing, we tried using nymphs. We were going for whitefish at one of my favorite lakes in Eastern Norway. The reason I love this location so much is simple: When we’re fishing this lake under sunny conditions, large whitefish commonly shoal up in very large numbers.
When Ina and I arrived at this angling Shangri-la, there was no wind and the water resembled a mirror. The huge mountaintops on the other side of the lake were still covered with snow and gave us a wonderful panoramic view. The Swedish border lies just behind these mountains. We paused for a moment to adjust to the silence and the spectacular surroundings. After a nice lunch, Ina prepared her tackle while I walked around searching for whitefish. I was also looking for human footsteps because in spite of the remote location, this lake is accessible by car and susceptible to heavy fishing pressure. We were lucky to find no signs of other anglers.
I had fished this area for many years, beginning in the early 1980s. I found that the best time for catching big fish at the outflow was just after the ice breaks up in late May or early June. I was able to fish this location only one time in the early part of the year, mainly because the weather is always very unpredictable. It can be very cold, and a late winter snowstorm can easily trap you there. During this early period, large grayling migrate from deeper in the lake to their spawning grounds in the river and brooks. After spawning, larger grayling take their positions at the end of the lake for one to sometimes two weeks. The water in the outflow is quite shallow and they can expend less energy when feeding. On this day with Ina, I could see the water level was perfect and our prospects for catching fish could not have been better.
I placed Ina in a terrific location in the lake and let her fish by herself for a while. I wanted her to gain confidence as a fly angler. I left Ina with a few of my new Remerger nymphs because I thought they looked quite good for meeting the conditions that day. I watched Ina from a distance, and when I saw that she was doing okay, I walked farther downstream out of her sight to try my own luck with the grayling.
After 40 minutes or so, curiosity got the better of me and I returned; I was not certain that Ina would still be fishing. Much to my delight, I watched her hook several fish, one after the other. Most of them got away during the retrieve, but that is quite normal because whitefish have very soft lips. While I watched, she landed and quickly released three fish. I had been outfished!
I decided to put down my gear and sneak a bit closer to watch more carefully. I wanted to observe her method of fishing. After each cast, she waited for what appeared a rather long time. I had not taught her this and didn’t understand why she was fishing this way. Later, I was astonished when she told me that she was pausing to locate the strike indicator. During this short pause, the nymph unintentionally sank slowly to the bottom without any movement or retrieve. The fish actually took the fly on the drop, which caused the strike indicator to move. Ina was able to see this movement and set the hook. When she saw this work, Ina repeated her technique and caught more fish.
Hook: Daiichi 1730, 1260, or 1760, sizes 12 to 6.
Thread: Size 8/0 (70 denier) in your choice of color.
Tail: Partridge or pardo fibers.
Weight: Fine lead wire.
Underbody: Angora wool in your choice of color.
Body: Three small bunches of rabbit dubbing
blended with fine flash fibers—
natural (for the first one-third of the body),
olive brown-gray (for the middle one-third of the body),
and dark olive (for the front one-third).
Rib: Medium gold or yellow wire.
Wing case: Peacock wing or pheasant tail fibers.
Top hackle: Starling, partridge, or a jungle cock feather.
Front hackle: Starling, partridge, or a jungle cock feather.
Tying the Remerger
After her success with this experimental fly, I also tried the pattern and was amazed at its success. Later, when I fished it with a sinking-tip line, the fly proved deadly in several deep Scandinavian pools.
I think Remerger is a good name for this fly. It is actually a fresh version of a pattern I created many years ago; it “reemerged,” so to speak.
I hope the Remerger will be as successful for you as it has been for my wife and me. It is a nice pattern to experiment with, especially if you like changing colors to match the hatch more easily.
Hans van Klinken is one of Europe’s leading fly designers and fly tying instructors. He is also a regular contributor to this magazine. Although Hans lives in Holland, you can learn more about his flies at his website, www.flyfishinggazette.com.