When the Going Gets Tough

Photo cred Espen Ørud
Teepee camp. Photo cred Espen Ørud

Recently I got signed with my sponsor ArcticSilver Innovation in Norway. The moment I signed the deal, boss Robert Selfors, asked me to go on a trip fishing for sea trout and salmon in Finnmark, a place I always wanted to go to fishing. I will try not to bore you with stories about when I forgot all my rods at the airport, far away from where we sat basecamp. Or the night, when we worn out, on our way back from the river got pulled over in the middle of nowhere because they had a check on seat belt and drivers license, which I did not bring into the wild, and actually talked my way out of a ticket.

Photo cred Espen Ørud
Free-Flex waiting for action. Photo cred Espen Ørud

I accepted the invitation with a tiny anxiety. The only easy way to explain that is that the dry fly fishing takes almost all my time when i´m not with my family, both mentally and physically. I easily get hooked and addicted and thats why I have decided to go a 100 % in on DoD. Simply, there is no more room for another fly fishing discipline in my life. Though, I understand the feeling when a 20 pound salmon wants to go the other way and you on the run along the riverside. Pure adrenalin. No need for an advanced DoD-formula to explain.

Photo cred Espen Ørud
Vebjørn Kielland fighting an 18 pound tropic shark style. Photo cred Espen Ørud

The DoD-formula worked out and I caught my first salmon on the dry.

Another thing I know about salmon fishing is that they usually do it at night and gets up really early and sleep at day. Same rythm as the bats by the rivers. At least thats my preconception of salmon fishing. Another preconception is that salmon fishers are more comfortable compared to us dry fly fishers. I had seen pictures from previous trips from Robert. Serving nice lunches and dinners by the teepees and sashimi straight out of the river. All salmon rivers follow roads, so they drive along the river and scout for rising salmon. When I saw the first outdoor toilet along the river, with toilet paper in it, all my theories of salmon fly fishers became a truth.

Photo cred Espen Ørud
Gearing up with ArcticSilver Free-Flex ready to drive rivers.
Photo cred Espen Ørud

The clock was set at 04.00 every morning. First morning I slept in til 7.30, with a good conscience. Nothing had happened by the river. 17 hours later we where back at the basecamp. No sashimi was served. No breakes. No mid day sleeping. Just hardcore pounding and walking the river the whole day. They where fishing my style. I loved it! With one concern. They only had a break for eating bread. Thats a thorn in my side with the norwegian “couisine”. They eat bread all the time. Im used to at least one break with drytech food. Gives me enough energy to go on forever. But bread? No fuel to my body.

Photo cred Espen Ørud
Fueled up Robert creating magic moments. Photo cred Espen Ørud

Old timer Asle Bårdli with one of many salmons. A true king along the river. Photo cred Espen Ørud

Photo cred Espen Ørud
Tailing my frist salmon. Photo cred Espen Ørud

Photo cred Espen Ørud
Espen writing secret messages with stylish loops. Show off!

In the end we fished for about 16 hours every day for five days. With minimum of food (bread). No day time rest. No, just sitting by the river waiting for the mayfly to hatch. A rest in itself. This trip really put my head in a monkey wrench with a hard twist. My waders hardly fitted my body anymore. I was slaughtered. Dried out. But I was still in heaven. We landed loads of small sea trout and four 18 pound salmon and some smaller salmon. I caught my first salmon on the dry, almost six pound, and lost a few. Actually the trip gave us all five species in the river; grayling, brown trout (technically the same as sea trout), salmon, sea run arctic char and sea trout.

Photo cred Espen Ørud
Junior Vebjørn struggeling holding his monster salmon. Photo cred Espen Ørud

My sum up of experiencing salmon fishing is that when the tough gets going they knock the preconception out of your bones. Thanks Robert, Asle, Espen and Vebjørn for a hell of a ride.

ArcticSilver Free-Flex – the pink elephant

norwegian highlands arctic silver

So far this season I have walked many rivers. I have met all kinds of fly fishers. Thin. Fat. Young. Old. Old school. New school. DoD-friends. Trout murders … and so on. They all have one thing in common when they discover the cold piece in my hand. The gaze!

By nature, I’m not a sceptic. However I am conservative when it comes to fly fishing gear. As many other fly fishers, I would say. Especially rods and reels. With rods, I am a Sage-man. Have been for at least 15 years and I like them medium fast. Early this summer I got a call from the innovator and salmon fisher Robert Selfors. He is the big brain behind the new rod brand ArcticSilver and the Free-Flex system. When he called me asking if I wanted to test the rod I knew what he was representing. I had actually followed the development of this new rod system from the time I heard about it. Not because I liked what I saw but I was kind of impressed that someone dared to put a huge pink elephant in the fine brown tweed room of fly fishing. To be honest, we are not just talking about developing blanks here. This is not just a “new nano-technology” thing, but a new system with a new face to it. In my opinion it takes both balls and a strong mixed portion of curiosity and not being satisfied with what the market offers today and having an idea to make things different.

Before I start the deep analyze here are some facts about the rod:
ArcticSilver Free-Flex #5 9´ 4pcs
Two set of tips, medium/full flex and medium/fast.

I tested the rod with two set of lines:
Loop Evotec 100 (10.4 meter taper head)
Guideline Presentation (8.5 meter taper head)

Obviously the idea behind the Free-Flex concept is to increase the experience with the feeling and control when working the rod in casting and catching situations. Thats no big brainer. What else would one want to develop when putting your head to the chopping block?!

Sofa flexing
My immeidiate reaction when flexing it back home in the sofa was “solid”. Not as in “solid as gold” (thinking heavy), but when you flex it you feel the whole rod in your palm. A really pleasent feeling I have to say. Somewhere deep inside I really want this new innovation to work.

Medium / fast with Loop Evotec 100
As I set off and tried the rod in the stream the first combo was the medium / fast tip with the Loop Evotec 100 line. Instantly I found a nice grayling just a few meters away. A good moment to try it at close range. A little windy but good conditions. The grayling rised steady and the rush of blood to my head was palpable. I struggled getting control of the line and presenting the fly precise. Too short. Too long. Too much to the left or the right. I got so annoyed trying present the comparadun so I gave up and started fishing on a grayling 20 meters away. An instant feeling of control when the taper head was shooting away the longer cast. The flexing in my hand was so obvious it almost went past down below my hand. A nice 2.5 pound grayling sucked the little #16 comparadun and the strike was instant. At this moment a new experience started. Fighting a nice sized fish in a strong stream. If the feeling of the long cast was in the palm of my hand, the feeling of fighting the fish almost got out of my control. I felt the fish below the palm of my hand, passed the Free-Flex handle. I don’t know if it is a negative or a positive thing. On the other hand I think that the deep flex will have two advantages in fighting fish; the fish gets tired quicker and neither the hook nor the leader will experience the same pressure as many other rods.

Pic cred Lasse Michelsen

Medium / full flex with Guideline Presentation
When trying new lines I always end up going back to the, by others so hated, Guideline Presentation. I feel comfortable with it. It speaks my conservative language and suites my quirky rythm and we are good friends. Immediately the full flex tip in combination with the shorter Guideline-taper head was a home run to me. It controls the short and long range and at this moment I had the opportunity to work the loops from big to tight loops and power the shooting of the taper head. The Free-Flex system actually started happening to me. I had no problems shooting the whole line of almost 30 meters or playing around with short snake roles presenting the fly in a appertizing way.

The Free-Flex handle
When meeting people along the river it is the handle the gaze is upon. That is where the rod goes from being only a rod to a pink elephant burning tweed. The fact that the handle is not made out of cork makes people back off. The conservatism hits the bulls eye. I understand it. After squeezing cork for almost 30 years a “plasticish” handle feels odd. Both to the hand and the estetic eye. That feeling totally dissapears after working the handle for while. Fly fishing is dominated by men. The Free-Flex handle with the Quick-Lock system makes the rod look like something made for men. But it´s also in the handle the magic of the power happens. You can feel it. Almost to an unforgiving point. It don’t allow you to use your own powers. It has to be a harmony between the handle and the capacity of the line.

The Quick-Lock system
During the test I used two reels, Danielsson Nymph Wide and Danielsson DryFly. With the classic “screw on” system I always have to control and rescrew the reel. I am really impressed by the Quick-Lock system. It’s smooth to attach and detach the reel and it fits the reel like a glow to the hand. It might look like a trigger on a gun, but as long as it does it’s work that good, and better then the old system, I wont do anything but salute their solution.

My overall impression
The combination of line and rod is important. What lines you like and what rod you combine them with is really individual due to your casting style. Some rods handles a varie of lines more or less well. My impression with the Free-Flex system is that the system is so unforgiving it really forces you to choose the right lines for your style and technique. The system won´t let you compromise. I found my combination with the Guideline Presentation which allowed me to control a number of techniques. But most important, you have to learn to know the advantages of the Free-Flex system. Some might question if there actually are any advantages to the system. In my opionion there are. It allowed me to control the line different compared to the Sage Z-Axis that I normally use. I had more power to the longer casts and I was controlling my loops, even in unpredictable highland winds. In fact the system casts so good I hope to take it on a test in the fjords chasing sea trout. Days with little wind and fishing with scuds and small shrimps would be an interesting experience.

I have gone from sceptic to pro ArcticSilver Free-Flex. The system works good for me and opened my conservative eye a little. There is more than Sage out there.

Meditation time

First dry fly trips of the year is like waking up. You find yourself on your knee on a mire. No wind. Sun thaw you up. No action. Almost in a meditating state of mind. Aware of the easy spooked fish. Not making any moves. You just sit there. With tons of theories spinning in your head. Ant? Mosquito? Spring mosquito? Leader too thin? Too thick? Too short? Any thought makes you doubt in your choices. But then again, the ant always works. With or without wings.

Photo cred Jon Erlend Sundnes

Seatrout bonanza

The last few weeks has given us really good seatrout fishing mid in Norway. Loads of trout in the fjords, and we see a lot of big fish as well. Our best experiences has been with a varieties of shrimps but on days with no wind the silver torpedoes goes crazy about the scuds in shallow water. This spring we have been chasing the silver of the fjords all over west- and eastside of the fjords south of Oslo, and the west coast of Sweden. Same result all over the map – tons of seatrout! Not much river walking but many milage behind the wheel …

Third pic curtesy of salmotrutta.no

Spring and scud = Klympen

Spring sprung early this year. At the moment there are alot of trout in the Norwegian fjords. You find them if you look and when you do you will find lots of them. Since the season started this early both the scud and the
polychaetes (børstemark in Norwegian) are in full action in the fjords.

scud, klympen, loppe
A variant of Klympen, a Danish scud pattern.

polychaetes, børstemark, borstorm, sandmask
The polychaetes, or børstemark in Norwegian

Heptagenia sulphurea

One of my favourite mayflies are the bright, almost nuclear, yellow Heptagenia sulphurea. The yellow sails floating down the silent stream in july are one of the best times to experience as a dry fly junkie. I love the danica and the vulgata because of its majestic size, but that bright yellow mirroring a dark stream is something else. Estetic. iWalkRivers gives you the emerger, dun, spent and an SBS on our spent.
(Notice 1; the color of the spent most likely should be a more rusty shade)
(Notice 2; the emerging sulphurea emerges in its total under the surface and swims to the surface fully emerged. So the question if its needed is totally valid. However, this is our vision of the emerging sulph)

heptagenia sulphurea mayfly

heptagenia sulphurea mayfly

spent sulphurea

spent sulphurea SBS

heptagenia sulphurea emerger

Emerging days

Snow is melting and winther has soon left us behind. Sun ad more hours to the clock. Emerging days rips ice from rivers and lakes apart.

One of my fav hooks for emergers is the Knapek Pupa in a variaty of sizes. For body I use a lot of Polish Quill, just love the material and the colors. Below are three different that are suppose to represent three different emerging stages.

Buzzers in the making

This spring when the huge trout focus on the mosquito larva …

Première en 2014

Its over with. First trip of 2014 is done. It was a pretty sweet start of the season. A 4.4 pound solid silver torpedo ended up in the net. The salty taste of norwegian fjord started the season, as always.

Hatch matched spent

The difficulty of imitating a spent spinner is color matching. Often the mayfly changes in color when it goes spent. A sweet trick is to tie the spinners in a light color, vary the sizes and bring some markers in different colors and match it by the river side.

Hends 404 BL #14, #16 and #18.

Three sizes, same color.

Waiting to get matched.


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