Published May 17. 2017 - 2 months ago
Updated or edited May 22. 2017

Raccoon

Raccoon – or Vaskebjørn – is a highly successful and good looking Norwegian sea trout fly.

A trio
A trio
Calle Eklind

I first heard of the Raccoon from Eivind Berulfsen, a very active Norwegian fly tyer and fly angler. Eivind mentioned it several times in his online posts and uploaded pictures and tying videos featuring the fly. A very good looking fly, shrimp-like and not far from many typical Danish sea trout flies. Eivind of course called the fly Vaskebjørn, its Norwegian name, which is the same in Danish. That's the common word for the small, masked animal in both languages.

Eivind may have

made it popular through his YouTube channel and frequent online postings, but the pattern was originated and first tied by another Norwegian, Christian Schanche, who told me about the origin of the fly:
- It came about in the middle of the 90’s as a hybrid between some of my favorite sea trout flies, the Omoe Brush, the Frede and the Magnus. I placed the bead chain eyes further back to get a more balanced fly moving like a shrimp or a stickleback. My good friend Eivind Berulfsen added the red seal fur, and the fly got its name during a fishing trip to Danish island Bornholm, inspired by a few Carlsberg and maybe a schnapps or two.
Christian continued:
- The fly is a great all-rounder, which can be fished slow and fast, figure of eight or in strips. I have taken 13 sea trout in the 4-5 kilo range on this fly on Bornholm alone, and many other anglers report that the fly takes large fish.
So, the fly is obviously highly productive, and has become quite popular in the Baltic. It has been used extensively in both Norway, Denmark and Sweden mostly by Norwegian and Swedish anglers, but is also catching on in Denmark and could definitely be used in many other places for any fish that eat shrimps and small gray baitfish.

Raccoon sea trout
A large fish
A kelt
Beautiful fish
A Bornholm fish
In the rocks
Raccoon fish
Trond Hagen - Calle Eklind
Chrstian with a bent rod
Trond Hagen

The fly is tied

with several sections divided by hackles like many flies such as the already mentioned Omoe Brush, the Djihad, Brenda, the Swedish salmon fly Ullsock and many more, quite a few of these owing a lot to the Irish shrimp and grub flies for salmon. In the case of the Raccoon there’s a round of hackle forming the tail, a red dubbing section with the eyes, another hackle, a lighter dubbing section, a hackle and a final small light section and a small front hackle.
All the hackles can be made from one large grizzly feather. A large, saltwater style saddle can deliver the proper feather, but one might also be found on the sides and top of many of the coarser dry fly saddles. You need one or a couple of feathers with fairly long barbs, the longest ones being 1½ even 2 times the hook gape. As you work your way forwards on the hook, using parts of the feather closer to the tip, you get a natural taper to the fly, the final frontal hackle being quite small. The red dubbing and the red head offer some contrast, and if you use genuine seal’s fur, you even get the almost magic translucency and shine that’s found in this material. Light is caught and reflected in the material in a quite special way.

The red spot
Ready for the coast
A handful
A box full
Raccoons
Calle Eklind - Trond Hagen

Two or three sections

The original Racoon was tied in four sections with the tail and three hackles. Many current versions are tied with only two sections - a red and a light one - separated by a single hackle and finished with one in the front. In this configuration the fly is lighter and more airy and faster to tie, which is preferred by many.

Variations
This image shows some variations. Left is three section Raccoons, right it's also three sections, but tied with more webby feathers, and in the bottom it's a two section fly.
Martin Joergensen
Materials, colors
Materials, colors
Martin Joergensen
Raccoon
Pattern type: 
Cold saltwater fly
Originator: 
Christian Schanche

A highly effective Norwegian sea trout fly.

The hackle is a critical part of this fly. If you can't find the original Keough Saltwater Grizzly, you may want to look at saltwater saddles or on the back of dry fly necks, where there is often a good handful of large, long feathers perfect for this fly. Some saddles are a little webby, but can be used, but the best feathers are almost dry fly quality, finely barred, but still with long stems and barbs.

Species: 
Materials: 
Hook
Partridge CS 54 size 2.
Thread
UNI 6/0 red
Hackle
Keough Saltwater Grizzly (Grade #1)
Eyes
Bead chain eyes, medium black
Dubbing, front over eyes
Seal’s fur or angora goat, red
Dubbing, body
Seal’s fur or angora goat, natural white/cream
Difficulty: 
Medium
Instruction: 
  1. Cover the shank with thread to the hook bend.
  2. Tie in the hackle, base first and trim stem.
  3. Wrap a few touching turns and tie down.
  4. Trim the hackle and save the remains for the next hackle.
  5. Press down the hackle and cover the butts with a few wraps to form a tail.
  6. Tie in eyes in the center of the rear half of the hook shank.
  7. Cover the base of the eyes and the rear half of the shank with red dubbing.
  8. Tie in the hackle, base first.
  9. Wrap again, tie down, trim and save remains.
  10. Dub the front half of the hook with light dubbing.
  11. Tie in the last bit of hackle, base first.
  12. Wrap a couple of turns, tie down and trim.
  13. Form a head, whip finish and varnish..


Two section Raccoon
The finished Raccoon
Two and three section Raccoons
Martin Joergensen
A Raccoon box
Eivind Berulfsen
Eivind Berulfsen
Eivind Berulfsen
Raccoon coffee
Calle Eklind

I have used some red and gray Polar fox in the fly below. It looks fine, but I'm pretty sure that the seal's fur used in the original has some "magic" capabilities when it comes to reflecting light mentioned above. Many of the furs on arctic animals such as Polar bear, seal, snow hare and Arctic fox has a very special luster that probably comes from the ability to absorb and disperse certain bandwidths of light in order to keep the animal warm.

Step 1 - start thread


Step 2 - select feather


Step 3 - prepare feather


Step 4 - tie in feather


Step 5 - wrap hackle


Step 6 -cut feather, save remains


Step 7 - press down


Step 8 - tie down


Step 9 - tie in eyes


Step 10 - cover with dubbing


Step 11 - tie in hackle


Step 12 - wrap


Step 13 - cut and save remains


Step 14 - tie down hackle


Step 15 - dub front


Step 16 - add the final hackle


Step 17 - press down


Step 18 - tie down


Step 19 - form a head


Step 20 - whip finish and cut


Step 21 - varnish


Martin Joergensen
The finished Racoon
The finished Racoon
Martin Joergensen
Round and fluffy
A Berulfsen Raccoon
When wet
From the hands of Eivind Berulfsen
Eivind Berulfsen
Ready to go back
Ready to go back
Trond Hagen

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