Of all the old classic salmon flies the thunder and lightning is probably the one which is most used today in its modern form. The color combination of black, orange, brown and gold has proved effective on salmon rivers all over the world.
SALMON AND STEELHEAD SINGLE HOOK FLY PATTERNS. Hook size 6 8 - $US each
The Thunder and Lightning is a fly that can be relied upon to give a good account of itself on almost any salmon river where it is fished. The Thunder and Lightning was once known as the "Great Storm" fly as it received it's name because it is particularly successful on rivers that are naturally dark, on rising water or where a spate is running off and the water is that dull brown color.
The Thunder and Lightning Salmon Fly Pattern
Of all the old classic salmon flies it is probably the one which is most used today in its modern form. The color combination of black, orange, brown and gold has proved effective on salmon rivers all over the world. It is a fly that can be relied upon to give a good account of itself on almost any salmon river where it is fished. The Thunder and Lightning was once known as the "Great Storm" fly as it received it's name because it is particularly successful on rivers that are naturally dark, on rising water or where a spate is running off and the water is that dull brown color.
When teaching ladies to fly fish salmon and some men, they have not even attempted this fishing because of the belief that you needed pure physical strength. Chatting in the pub after a being out on the river all day, I still hear anglers who believe that brute force is what is really required. It is skill that is required. You need to practice and practice with your casting until you can hit your target location consistently. Once you've spotted with a salmon are lying, you need to be able to get your fly down fast. If you do not live near a river go into your local park and put some rubber rings down on the grass. Try a bit of target practice and cast as close as you can to the rings. Local dog walkers will think you are mad but this time spent honing your skills will have benefits when you are on the water.
When fishing for salmon in cold water. Most anglers will tell you that you need to fish a large fly like a Thunder and Lightning slow and deep. But how do you know the right combination? How to work out how deep you need to fishing fly and how slow? In my experience, for salmon lying in water that is 4-6 feet deep, a fly fished about 2 feet below the surface works well. In autumn/fall, if the salmon are taking, they will rise up the short distance to take your fly. In the spring run at depth of 3 foot works better.
I normally cast at an angle of 45° of about 30 yards, in medium paced flowing river conditions. Where the flow is even and there are not many rocky obstructions, the line will effectively fish the fly on its own with very little interference needed from the flyfishing. But if your fly goes through an area where the current is slow, then you need to step in and speed up the fly either by swinging your rod ahead of the line towards the bank or by hand lining.
When fishing a river, with a faster current many salmon fishermen cast at a shallower angle. What I like to do is cast square across the River and throw a big upstream mend in the line just before it lands on the water. Mending is no longer an option, when the line is below the water surface. A square cast and mend on a fairly slack line, allows the line and fly time to sink to the correct fishing depth. Your chosen fly is not fishing during the first initial downstream drift but starts working when the line has swung too 45°. It will be down deep at the right level rather than skimming the top or on its descent. The old salmon fly fishing saying that a cold water fly must be fish slowly is generally a good rule. But there are always exceptions to the rule. If you are having no luck with this tactic producing fish then try squarer cast without a mend. It will produce a slightly faster swimming fishing fly that could provoke a taking salmon to attack.
But now let's talk about the fly. I prefer to use hair wing salmon flies rather than the old traditional feather wing flies. I believe there attraction lies in a long slim profile. But you can do something to make these flies more attractive. Normally when the fly is swimming through the water, the current presses the fibers flat against the hook body. If you suddenly lower the Rod point, your fishing fly will fall back and for a moment the wing fibres will spread out before flattening again as the Rod tip is raised to its original position. If your fly was under observation salmon, this extra bit of movement may be all that is needed to trigger an attack instinct. Alternately, you can twitch the fly by hand using the line. Snatch one foot of line and let it go again. I prefer using the line method myself. It works great on a Thunder and Lightning hairwing fly pattern
CUSTOMER'S COMMENT - ICELANDIC SALMON
It is all about presentation of your fly to the fish. From the top to the bottom and in between. In 2011 I had a wonderful chance to go to Iceland and fish for Atlantic Salmon. Amazing trip for sure. I made up my mind that I would fish for them just like I do for Pacific Salmon and Steelhead and it worked awesome! I love sink tip lines. Having your fly go with the speed of the current for non active fish usually makes for a good presentation. Sometimes a little faster or slight twitch during the drift. I change colors and sizes a lot. The most productive colors for me in Iceland were Gold, Black, Ginger, Orange that make up your Thunder and Lightning Salmon fly. I used #6's and #4's. I love to spot and stalk fish that I can see and then trick them into taking my fly! Joseph Miller, CA. USA
The Grilse Salmon arrive in the River Feale, Listowel, Co Kerry in Ireland in early Summer. They average around 5lb s the runs build from late may, peaking by late June early July which for me is great because my wife spends two weeks watching the Tennis on the TV the Wimbledon Lawn Championships. My most successful fly is the thunder and Lightning but I also have success on your Blue Charm and Gary Dog Salmon flies. Michael Baker, Cork, Ireland