Published Jun 17. 2021 - 2 years ago
Updated or edited Jun 17. 2021


Here’s a simple pattern for a summer salmon fly, which can be varied almost endlessly. It uses nail polish for the body and is super fast to tie.

The polish and the flies
Not a big fly
The nail polish and the flies
Nils Folmer Jørgensen

Being on the water most of the summer in pursuit of Atlantic salmon in Iceland has made me design quite a lot of fly patterns through the years – optimized for the specific conditions, locations and techniques.

This is a part of the fishing, which I really enjoy. Challenging my creative skills and harvesting the experience earned on the water. It has led to some of the most successful flies here in Iceland.

But the problem with my usual flies is their complexity, demanding time to tie and requiring materials that are not always easy to get. So to get more time on the water and more free time in the winter, I needed something easy and fast to make. This is was what gave birth to these flies.

My own experience along with the experience of some of the most skilled anglers I know here in Iceland, has led me to believe that most of our rivers produce most salmon when approached with “slim” flies. Lightly dressed, not too flashy and with a rather short wing.
With that in mind along with speeding up the making of the fly, I made a series of flies I call NailFlies.

A white/chartreuse NailFly
A green/orange NailFly
A red/white NailFly
A blue/green NailFly
A yellow/orange NailFly
A blue/green NailFly
A blue NailFly
Nils Folmer Jørgensen
Oh yeah!
Nils Folmer Jørgensen
Blue bodies
Green/yellow NailFly
Almost endless variations
Quick to tie
They are quick to tie, so tie many!
Nils Folmer Jørgensen

For many years, I have been using nail polish for making cool looking heads on many of my flies. Most famous is Erna, Erna Spey and Erna B, but last year, I went back to the supplier, H&M, and found a bunch a really cool looking multi colored nail polishes.
The idea was to paint/color the body directly on the hook and thereby skip making a body with thread, tinsel, dubbing or whatever. It would save time in the making, give many options regarding shade and a slimmer body. And – it turned out – it also led to a stronger fly.

Do they work?
Oh yes!

The nail polish colors available in H&M are amazing! I felt like a kid in a toy store, but narrowed my first raid down four colors. I have been going berserk with them for some time.
All of them are with glitter and several color shades. For example, the blue one has shades of purple and pearl. The gold one has shades of orange and green. It’s impossible to describe and almost impossible to show in pictures, but go to the store and try turning a bottle in the light and notice the color changes.
Imagine that on a fly!
You can even make a multiple layers like a base of blue and then add a light layer of pearl. It looks amazing! The options are endless and I have to hold my horses when starting to blend colors and hair materials.
It does not take a long time before you have thirty new patterns. But as I always tell fellow anglers, find a few patterns you are confident in and make many of those. Many times I have seen that only one pattern will work on a given day, so if you only have one of that fly and loose it or damage it, you’re fishing is over. I always have at least 20 of each of my patterns ready to use.

To match the slim design in the NailFlies, I choose to use squirrel for wing. The combination of multiple wing colors are, as I already mentioned, endless. In order to not get carried away and keep it simple, I use just two colors in the wing on most of my NailFlies, but have also mixed up three colors in one wing. If you want it real simple, one color works. Collie Dog is after all one of the best flies ever in all its simplicity.

Salmon fishing in Iceland
Probing an Icelandic river
The fishing
Nils Folmer Jørgensen - Kasper Mühlbach

You can add a contrasting butt to the fly to make it a bit more aggressive. On most of my NailFlies, I have two strokes of flash between the upper wing and the Guinea Fowl which I use for topping to give the fly some more nuances in the water. Finally I have some schlappen (soft cock hackle) as throat, again this gives some more nuances when you put the fly in water.
After I tied the original NailFlies, I have also made some with Angel Hair and a longer wing of horse hair, but let’s just stick to what defines the whole concept: keep it simple.

Pattern type: 
Modern salmon fly
Nils Folmer Jørgensen

A small and lightly dressed salmon fly with a special body: a hook shank varnished with colorful nail polish.

Double salmon hook size 8-12
H&M nail polish applied directly on the hook shank
8/0, color to match or contrast fly. Nils often uses red or white
Squirrel – natural and/or dyed. And sparse!
Guinea fowl – natural and or dyed. Also sparse! You can add some flash for a bit of sparkle.
Throat hackle
A small tuft of schlappen barbs. Yup, you guessed it: sparse!
Tying thread, varnished
Skill level/difficulty: 

Step 1: Vanish hook shank

Step 2: Start thread

Step 3: Add 1st wing material

Step 4: Add 2nd wing material

Step 5: Add guinea fowl

Step 6: Add optional dash of colored guinea fowl

Step 7: Tie in throat hackle

Step 8: Finish fly

Nils Folmer Jørgensen

Do they work?
Oh yes!

I really started to take this further after feedback from some friends who had tested the first NailFlies and could tell about some really good fishing when the regular flies failed.
They wanted more, many more!
That sent me back to the H&M store. During this winter’s Covid lockdown, I have spent less time at the vise, but have more flies in the box than ever – even ready to share some.
Time is money… I mean more time on the river.
So here you go guys, some inspiration, which I hope will give you more silver.

A hefty Icelandic salmon
Nils with a salmon
An Icelandic summer salmon
A well deserved catch
Icelandic silver
Icelandic salmon
Nils Folmer Jørgensen

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