My old favorite
Summer time in Sweden
We, my grandmother, grandfather and I were in Sweden in our small family summer cabin.
It was an old cabin. Not that small when I recall the memory. The old stoves from 1800-something were the only heaters in the house. All cooking was until recent done on one of them where the temperature was regulated by metal rings and by the amount of wood of course. My grandmother hated cooking on it, but that's another story.
The summer cabin was our base camp during many vacations in my childhood and youth.
It was located in the forest, a few kilometers from both lakes and streams.
We fished these nearby waters primarily using lures and spinners. The main targets were pike and perch (fried on a pan with new potatoes, butter and salt they are a delicacy).
From time to time we also used worms or dough to make a fish pull down our floaters, but on this sunny day my granddad unpacked a new rod - a fly fishing rod.
I looked at the rod with a feeling of "I also want one" and "What should he be using it for? - or me?"
We spooled on the backing and the DT-line. Threw the leader away and made a few ourselves. We tied on a small tuft of yarn and my grandfather went down to the small flowering fields surrounded by pine trees. Butterflies escaped from the grass as he made his way to his starting point. A few rocks and a bush made the perfect training target.
He pulled out some line and started swinging the rod. In the beginning it did not look good, but I was eager to try and see if it really was that difficult. However, the rod was not for loan.
The day went by and not even at lunch I managed to get a single cast. My granddad continued casting, casting, casting.... casting and casting. He managed to do some corrections and he was in a good mood when it was time to sit by the table and have dinner - again.
The next day I was offered the rod for a couple of hours as the grands wanted to go to the town.
Hmmm... It was not that difficult to control the line, but to get the line out and still control it was much more difficult I’d better stick to my fly tying - Yes, I had been tying flies for the past two years, just for fun. I did not have the money for a fly rod anyway.
Jens, my granddad, did not bring the fly rod to the water for the whole week, but when we got back home, I picked strawberries in a fruit plantation, painted a whole farm house and cleaned lots of sheep houses, just to get money, so I could buy my own rod.
And I got one!
I also got a book by a Danish biologist Steen Ulnits. "Fluebinding 1" Fly Tying 1. For that time, it was an inspiring book with photos in black and white and stories from Steen’s first years as a fly fisher in the streams near the German border. It included step-by-steps photo series of such classics as Red Tag, Red Tag dry, Red Tag Palmer, Bloody Butcher and a Brown Spinner.
My grandparents had lots of hens and cocks on their small farm. The cocks delivered good quality hackles even though some of them had quite long fibers. We did not care, and many of our flies floated high in the surface.
In our home stream, we fished for browns, as the only people, I guess. We never saw other dry fly anglers.
We only met other rod holders at dawn.
Sea trout! That was what they were fishing for.
We fished during the mornings, days and evenings and had the whole stream to ourselves. We enjoyed it very much and wandered kilometer after kilometer spotting feeding fish. Casting, drifting - kind of sight fishing in an unclear Danish stream. And we tied flies. Hundreds. The grass, trees, bushes, branches on the banks were by far the Top 5 of our catches and we lost many, many flies to them. It could be frustrating to see a newly tied fly on a brand new leader fix itself to a branch in the first cast. The only thing I got back was a curled useless leader. I replaced the tippet, tied on a new spinner and "smack!" - It disappeared somewhere in the grass behind me.
However, the joy of casting the fly and see it disappear in a small ring overshadowed the frustrations by an order of magnitude.
As my grandfather's legs got weaker he enjoyed sea trout fishing more. Two steps, one cast. Two slow steps, one cast. But I continued tying brown spinners
I tried several other patterns, like the Red Tag Dry, some flies I had bought and some blacks, whites etc. None worked as well as The Brown Spinner and it was and still is my all time favorite for these streams.
For years it has been the only dry fly I use when I visit my home waters and it still works. It brings back lots of memories of my granddad and me fishing... that might be the most important aspect of this fly has since we have cast the last cast together.
As I am writing this, it is June. During the summer vacation I might go to my home stream again. Walking along the bank, equipped with light gear, a spool of 6X tippet and a film canister of Brown Spinners. Maybe a red dotted brownie will follow the fly for a second and then,,,
The Brown Spinner is a very, very simple dry fly. I know several people who have tied a dry Red Tag as their first dry because of its simplicity, but take a look at this. Maybe that's the first lesson fly.