Scandinavian Fly Tying Design and Willie Gunn SBS

 Article Written for Foxy-Tails by: Steven Osborne


The origin of what we now commonly refer to as the Scandinavian fly tying style can, without doubt, be traced back to the early pioneering days of the mid 80’s. It was during that time where Mikael Frödin and Håkan Norling created and tested the embryonic and revolutionary ‘Temple Dog’ salmon fly design – a design that was set to change fly tying forever. However, as the years have passed there has been rapid development within Scandinavia in the use of higher mobility materials and those original ground-breaking patterns have evolved into the tube fly designs that appear so common place today.

Over the last 5-years or so this Scandinavian tying style has been making a steady but nervous inroad into the UK fly tying scene. This has been reinforced within the UK by greater availability and access to the higher mobility materials and tube fly components through the efforts of companies like FutureFly of Denmark. No longer is a cone just a cone - with evolution comes technical advancement and the vented cones of FutureFly are one such testament to these advances in technical tube fly component design.      

These days, to call these salmon flies ‘Temple Dogs’ is doing them a great injustice. In fact, the name Temple Dog is a misnomer as the days when they contained hair taken from a Shih-Tzu dog are, thankfully, long behind us. Today, as tiers, we have available to us: hair from the super soft Marble Fox; the long and highly mobile Silver Fox; supple Cashmere Goat and an ever increasing range of pelt materials emanating from Europe. All of these materials will create flies with unparalleled levels of movement and mobility.

At shows, in the Foxy-Tails shop and on the river bank when fishing, I am often shown or handed flies and told by the disgruntled owner that these Scandinavian style flies are just not effective for UK run fish. Most of the time I am not surprised that they haven’t been working effectively as they have been far too heavily dressed – usually there is so much material tied into the flies that they would have been ‘dead’ in the water – quite simply robbed of what would make them enticing in the first place.

Personally, my stance on this is to keep the fly as light as possible and if I can’t see through the wing materials (translucency) then there is a very good chance it’s been overdressed. However, I must stress that not all the flies I see are like this, sometimes it’s quite simply the wrong fly in the wrong place or a fly used in the wrong river conditions. Put simply you need water (or better put as water flow) – these are not flies suitable for the low water levels of a UK summer. Currents act on the wing bringing the high mobility materials in to play. They flick and dance and come alive.

With any chosen fly on the day there can never be guarantees. A fly tied in the Scandinavian Style will never be a panacea to catching a Salmon and they are certainly not suitable for every situation. But, if the water conditions are favourable for their use then I personally believe they are almost unbeatable in their fish catching potential. Besides, thousands of Scandinavian fly fisherman who chase salmon effectively with these flies can’t be wrong can they?


Tying the Willie Gunn Salmon Pattern in Scandinavian Style

Quite a long step-by-step (SBS) but I wanted to make it as easy to follow as possible.


Step 1:  We are going to start with FutureFly 1.8mm Inner and 3.0mm Outer plastic tubing in black.
Cut a piece of outer tubing 25mm long and a piece of inner tubing 40mm long.
The outer tubing has a chamfered cut at the front the reason for which will become clear in the next step.

Step 2:  Assemble the tubing onto the needle allowing room in the back of the outer tubing to accept a hook.
Run on your thread and when bound over the chamfered outer tube the sides of the tube will close in and bind the two tubes together.

Step 3:  Tie in small oval gold tinsel at the front of the tube (underneath) and wrap down in open turns to where the first tag will be.
As you near the tag position change to close thread wraps to provide a flat ‘bed’ for the oval tinsel to sit upon.

Step 4:  Apply 4 turns of oval tinsel, tie off under the tube and remove waste material.

Step 5:  Tie in yellow Fl-Fibre for the tail on top of the tube and tie tight to the oval tinsel tag to ‘kick’ the tail up.
Tie in orange Glowbrite Floss under the tube and cut waste end to the length of the rear body section.

Step 6:  Cut the Fl-Fibre tail at an angle.
Wrap the Glowbrite tag and lock in the advance the thread in open turns to where the end of the rear body will be.
Keep the Fl-Fibre on top of the tube and the floss underneath to ensure the body stays without bumps in readiness for the next step.

Step 7:  Tie in medium oval gold tinsel and holographic gold flat braid underneath the tube.
Wrap down to the Glowbrite tag in open turns keeping both the tinsel and the flat braid underneath the tube.

Step 8:  Advance the thread forwards to where the end of the rear body section will be.
Wind the holographic flat braid followed by the counter rib of oval tinsel forwards to the end of the rear body area.
Trim the waste material.

Step 9:  Apply FutureFly Antique Gold Dubbing generously to the remaining area of the outer tube.
Brush it out well so it creates a ‘halo’ over the rear body to start creating translucence on the fly.
Advance the thread onto the smaller 1.8mm tube.

Step 10:  Apply 2-3 turns of yellow soft hackle and tie down.
Keep in mind that there are three hackles on this fly pattern so do not overdress or the fly will become bulky.


Step 11.  Apply the yellow fox wing layer to just short of the Fl-Fibre tail. Ensure the wing forms a ‘delta’ shape.
As each wing layer is added this will ensure the desired ‘tear drop’ profile forms (when viewed from underneath and from the side).
Most important is not to overdress as we have three wing layers – if you can’t see through the wing then you have too much material.
Always keep translucence in mind.

Step 12:  Apply 2-3 turns of hot orange soft hackle over the wing tie in point before
adding a few thread wraps to provide a bed for the next wing layer to sit upon.

Step 13:  Apply the hot orange Marble Fox wing layer slightly longer than the first yellow wing to start building the ‘tear drop’.
I am using Marble Fox as it is longer than most other fox hairs on the market.

Step 14:  Apply 2-3 turns of black soft hackle over the wing tie in point before
adding a few thread wraps to provide a bed for the final wing layer to sit upon.

Step 15:  Apply the final black wing layer of Black Silver Fox, again slightly longer than the layer beneath.

Step 16:  Add Jungle Cock eyes (or substitute) and a small black FutureFly 4mm Hybrid Cone to complete the nose of the fly.
Remove from the needle and cut the end of the inner tube to within 1mm of the cone and then melt the tube
back carefully to lock the cone in place. Ensure that the centre hole remains open to accept your leader.


Have fun and enjoy experimenting and without doubt you will find many methods of your own. 


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