Niels' flies

Published Jun 13th 2008

If you thought that silk lines, split cane rods and full dressed salmon flies was something people used a century ago, you may want to read this article.

By ,

Some of Niels' beautiful flies
Martin Joergensen photos

Now my good friend Niels is not quite normal - meant in a very positive and friendly way of course!

No offense!

Who of us can plead fully normal anyway? I usually say that I'm the only normal person amongst the guys that I fish with. Not quite true, perhaps... Not that the others are normal per se... Well, I digress... back to Niels.

The reason that I declare Niels somewhat crazy is the fact that the flies you see on this page are all tied for fishing.

Yes, fishing!

Niels ties the most meticulously dressed true-to-the-original classical salmon flies... to fish with!

Lord Highfarm
Niels' full name is Niels Hoejgaard Have, which his classmates jokingly used to "pseudo-translate" word for word from Danish to English into Niels Highfarm Garden -- Lord Niels Highfarm himself! a very suitable name for a man who fishes salmon like they used to in the days of lords, earls and barons.
We have featured Niels' fantastic flies before -- here are some of his Wadingtons, some of his tubes and in this small intro you can see Niels with a box of salmon flies (also for fishing) dating back to the year 1999 and his take on a Lady Amherst.

Niels came visiting the other day and broke out one of his flyboxes - a hefty wooden box measuring 20 by 40 centimeters or some 8 by 16 inches. The box contained his latest production of 24 full dressed classical salmon flies featuring married wings, veilings. toppings and all the bells and whistles of the classics. No cheating there! Even though he does "tie them for fishing" as he says, most of us would break an arm to be able to tie for display in the quality he produces. He has been tying and fishing such flies for many years now.

We took the opportunity to shoot a bunch of images of the flies, of which you see a few on this page.

Flies and fish
Niels Have and Martin Joergensen photos

The Durham Ranger - Tied for fishing by Niels Have
The Durham Ranger
The Green Highlander - Tied for fishing by Niels Have
The Green Highlander
Highlander split cane, Hardy Perfect... and a silk line
But not only does Niels fish full dressed flies, he also fishes them on a Phoenix silk line wound on a Hardy Perfect reel, which again is mounted on a 13' Highlander split cane rod made by J.H. MC GINN in Scotland.
"My favorite rod!" as Niels says.
He uses this rod for his home rivers, the Danish Karup and Skjern, hunting for salmon and sea trout. When going to Norway's larger rivers he "cheats" and uses a 14' Hexagraph rod, which is a carbon fiber rod, but has the action and look of split cane.

With these combos he raids the Danish and Norwegian salmon rivers and as you can well imagine, attracts quite some attention when he reveals his gear and opens his flyboxes full of classical full dressed flies.

The line was a special order from Phoenix in France. I can't imagine they get many orders for 10-weight silk lines these days, and according to Niels the delivery also took many weeks because they had to make it for him. There are probably few two hand silk lines in stock anywhere. The line is beautiful and casts like a dream says Niels who has fished it a few times already. He tells me that the casting pace and rhythm of his setup has to be deliberately slow, but that both reach and presentation is on par with anything he has tried.

The reel is a newly made Hardy Perfect four-and-three-quarter inches - no. 215 of 250 produced. Not as expensive as it sounds, but not a cheap reel either. And so noisy that if you hook a salmon in the Norwegian river Surna it can be heard all the way to Oslo. It weighs a lot, but on the other hand it does balance the Bruce&Walker cane perfectly.

Perfect - A Hardy Perfect salmon reel and its luxurious leather pouch
Niels will soon be off to his beloved Surna again to swing his silk line with these beautiful flies in the end over Norwegian salmon. According to his experience such flies look really good in the water and are surprisingly durable.
He may fish some wadingtons and some tubes also, but not on the split cane. When these more "modern" flies comes out, he rigs a carbon fiber rod and modern reel - that's a 25 years old Greys rod and a Hardy Bougle reel by the way.

No, he's not quite like the rest of us.

Skjern salmon - Niels by the Danish River Skjern
Skjern salmon
Surna salmon - Niels with a Norwegian salmon
Surna salmon
Surna salmon - Niels by the Norwegian river Surna
Surna salmon

13\' Highlander - Niels\' split cane rod in its right place -- by the stream
13' Highlander
The settings - Niels in the beautiful settings of the Nowegian river Surna
The settings

User comments
From: jorge bazan · jorgebazan000·at·  Link
Submitted June 23rd 2014

Admirable ¡¡ - your neatly in the making of these flies, something for my inspiring and good example.

From: Steve - Full name and email anonymized  Link
Submitted May 23rd 2013

Niels is an inspiration!

From: Jerome Molloy · jf_molloy·at·  Link
Submitted December 11th 2008

Very enjoyable article.

From: Lars M. Jørgensen · lmj·at·  Link
Submitted September 16th 2008

The best flies I have ever seen... Very nice

From: peter · peterscholes·at·  Link
Submitted August 26th 2008

yes dave riding is definitely one of the best and still tying i know him well in fact he taught myself to tie flies in fact i will be going back this year for a course in built wing salmon flies

From: Jan Johansen · jany·at·  Link
Submitted July 18th 2008

One of the best dress salmon fly tiers in England is Dave Ryding he only ties the traditional way this article reminds me of him well done Jan Johansen

From: Larry Krumpelman · papuidaho·at·  Link
Submitted June 24th 2008

It's sure nice to see people still using the traditional eguipment. I too, like cane rods and fish them when i can. The flies are beautiful.

Comment to an image
From: JoeM  Link
Submitted April 26th 2009

Wow! That's all I can say. I don't even want to think about how much a collection of flies of that quality would cost you.

Comment to an image
From: Mike Barrie · mjbarrie·at·  Link
Submitted December 11th 2008

what a picture history of full dressed salmon flies all on one picture outstanding they dont make them like this anymore.

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