The Blue Charm was one of the first old successful classic salmon flies to be adapted in the style of the modern hair-wing patterns. It is a much used fly in Scotland and the rest of the world.
SALMON DOUBLE HOOK FLY PATTERNS. Hook size 4 6 8 10 - $US each
Originally it was strongly associated with the river Dee in Scotland, but it crossed the Atlantic and has had incredible success on the North Eastern costal areas of North America. It also has a good record as a sea trout fly. Now tired using modern materials it is widely used as a summer fly pattern on all rivers. Theoretically, blue flies appear more attractive in the blue light of the early morning. This fly was one of the first hair-wing patterns (known as the Hairy Mary in Britain). Originally tied in the 1950's by John Reidpath of Inverness, Scotland as a hairwing version of the traditional Blue Charm feathe rwing salmon fly. It is one of the earliest, simplest and most enduring of the hair wing patterns. We have it as a double and a tube fly as well as the single hook.
TIPS ON WHAT SALMON FLY TO USE
The British salmon fly tying traditions of the 18th and 19th centuries that used exotic materials and complicated patterns were exported to the countries the British explored and occupied. In North America and other parts of the world, gradually these pattern were changed and new ones designed to make use of the more easily obtainable local animal skins and feathers. The were also designed to suit the different natural conditions and local fish. Hairwings were used instead of brightly colored feathers from tropical birds. They worked as well if not better. Hairwing salmon flies have now become the norm and the traditional feather-winged patterns are now more commonly found as framed works of art that hang in gentlemen's studies and behind bars.
Choosing the right fly is a problem that occurs for all salmon fly fishers. There is no solid rule that works all the time everywhere. Dark day, dark fly; bright day, bright fly can be a good guide along with high water, big fly; low water, small fly. But sometimes the reverse is true. Some like to chose a fly of a color that matches the overall color of the riverbed. Rivers that flow over bare rock or limestone are often crystal clear. They may have a blue or green/yellow tinge so some choose flies with the same coloring like Yellow Torrish or the Green Highlander. Some salmon experts swear that the colours yellow and green have the most impact in cold water. When rivers are in full flow after a recent storm try some brighter orange flies. As the water warms dark flies like the stoats tail become more productive. Brighter flies will still work but there are times during low water when the most subtle and sober flies, like the Blue Charm, Munro Killer or Thunderand Lightning are the ones that are more accepted by the salmon. As the water warms up flies fished faster and closer to the surface will bring better results. The warmer it becomes the smaller and higher the fly is fished until a floating line is required. During the Pacific Salmon run pink flies are the best. In the Autumn Fall there are lots of young juvenile fish around. Salmon flies like Silver Doctor or Silver Wilkinson with silver bodies give good results.
Your choice of fly is sometimes down to a local’s or friend’s recommendation, remembering what worked last year, or simply following your own hunch. Others believe that it doesn’t matter what fly you use as it is the presentation of the fly that counts. Some say that a salmon caught on one fly would have been taken on any of several other flies of the same size so long as it was presented to the fish in the same way. Some "experts" will criticize a fly because it has a too full or too sparse a hairwing; the shape of the hook is too curved or not curved enough; the fly should or should not have a yellow, green orange or red butt; the nose should be red or it should be black and the most ridiculous is, that the fly has one too many gold colored ribs or not enough. These arguments have been raging since Victorian times. That is one of the charms of this sport. Everyone has his or her own opinion. It gives you something to talk about around the camp fire or over a bottle of beer.
Generally migratory salmon and steelhead trout cease feeding as they return to freshwater to spawn. Though I have seen them rise to take flies an insects on the surface. They can be tempted or provoked into taking a general brightly colored attractor pattern (some fishermen call them a 'piss-em-off' pattern) like one of the orange Woolly Bugger. You must aim to get your fly within a few feet of the fish to stimulate it into attacking. In the coldest of conditions large salmon flies up to three inches may not be out of place. They may also eat out of habit something that they were feeding upon in open ocean. Flies that represent shrimp, prawns and bait fish are ideal. Experiment with the speed of the retrieve past a known salmon or steelhead lie. An attack can often be provoked if you stir the hunting instinct of this great tasting, large predatory. A sudden quick retrieve can suggest the rapid escape movement of a startled small fish that has seen it’s biggest nightmare. In North America and in other parts of the world, salmon are commonly caught on dry flies like hoppers (grasshoppers), daddy-long-legs (craine flies) and the Wulff or Bomber series of dry flies. This is rarely tried in Europe. If you live in Europe, discard tradition and give it a try.