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A Handful of Flies from the Kola Peninsula: Part Three


The third post in a series of phone photos featuring the flies the author used during a week chasing Atlantic Salmon in Russia at the The Belousiha River Lodge. The beginning of the series can be found here:

Read Part 1 HERE

Blurry photo of a Willie Gunn. I didn’t hook anything on this fly, but the young Russian guide who picked it out for me to use told me the first salmon he’d ever caught on a two-hand rod was with a Willie Gunn. It was his favorite pattern and the first he tried every day. I’ve seen these tied even sparser, but it still looked fantastic in the water. I’ve always liked patterns tied in the round because then I’m confident that their orientation in the water is always correct. I had a lot of confidence with this classic fly.

I don’t remember fishing this pretty featherwing fly for very long. Irrationally, I never have confidence in feather wing patterns. I like marabou, bunny, goat and bucktail, but featherwings often look like they lack taper or are too fragile. I should reconsider that bias because this is a handsome little fly fluttered beautifully the current.

The Black Francis. I’d seen photos and tying videos of the Francis family of flies before, but never fished one. I was surprised at how stiff the tail fibers were. I’m used to prioritizing soft fibers that flow and wiggle in the current. These were clearly intended to hold their position. It was heavy and seemed too big and I expressed a bit of doubt about the choice of fly to the guide. He seemed frustrated by this and said something along the lines of, “Never doubt the Francis” in a thick Russian accent that made the statement more ominous than it might have otherwise.

I didn’t remember this fly at all until I was looking through my photos. For whatever reason, this doesn’t look like good salmon colors to me. I like the simple profile a ton, but purple looks like a steelhead color to me. I recognize that this is irrational, and the guide who recommended the fly had years of experience, but that is my association with color, right or wrong. I would have been totally thrilled to have that bias removed by a salmon, but I know I didn’t hook a fish on this fly. If I had, I’m sure I’d be sitting here writing about how purple is an undervalued salmon color and we need to look past our steelhead focus…

Part 4 coming soon!


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