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Late summer is slowly, almost unnoticeably, turning into autumn. The evenings often get chilly and the wind has a bite in it, not there before. Hatching mayflies are scarce and foreseeing fly fishers reorganize their fly boxes preparing for a different insect life. Fishing moves into a new phase with new prerequisites – and new pleasures.


Between late summer and autumn, we may still experience occasional days when a warm breeze sweeps across the lake, the air is filled with lovely fragrances and instills the feeling that all is well in the best of all possible worlds. The dry fly falls softly like a thistledown on the water. The permit is paid and your conscience clear – but where are the fish? Once again, it is time to remember that most of what fish eat is under the surface.



Two species of aquatic True Bugs are of interest to the fly fisher. The smaller one, named Corixa, has paddle-shaped legs behind the middle of the body, and a larger one, legs towards the front. I have never had much luck with this pattern in Swedish waters, but once in New Zealand I found that fish selectively ate Corixa, slightly bigger than a needle-head. This is a general pattern, which may be tied in various sizes to represent both species.


The damselfly nymph is active until the ice puts the lid on. One day in late autumn I cleaned a rainbow trout filled to the gills with damselfly nymphs of different sizes. Almost all were alive, and I placed them in an aquarium and could study their movements for a couple of weeks. Imitations are many. Trying to mimic the jerking, sinking-raising, swimming technique of the nymph is more important than the actual imitation.


In lakes where permitted, a belly boat can give the fishing an extra dimension. It is not only comfortable; it also gives you a chance to get close to a fish otherwise out of reach. Regarding vegetation and insect life, the most productive spots in a pond or lake, are shallow zones of approx. 2 meters. Unfortunately, excessive wading have in certain locations caused a lot of harm to the sensitive productive area near the bank. Fishing from a belly boat is a good alternative.


Rainbow trout got this name due to its shimmering sides, which with a little imagination reminds you of the colors of the rainbow. As we all know, few things can so effectively spoil a promising day of fishing as a sudden shower. The rises we spotted only a few minutes ago are completely erased – nor do we see the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.



During late summer, sedges begin to appear in ever increasing numbers. In Scandinavia there are about 700 species of sedges, many of those so similar that without a magnifying glass you cannot tell them apart. In other words, it is not necessary to fill an already bulging fishing vest with 700 sedge imitations. Many fly fishers are content with patterns like Rackelhanen or Europea 12, and are doing well with those.



Every time I sit down to tie copy of Hälsingemusen, I suffer a slight pang of bad conscience. In my mind, I turn towards Viksjöfors and Lennart Jonsson, thank him for the pattern and humbly beg forgiveness for having altered his great fly. I have found that Hälsingemusen , meant to imitate a Bullhead, can with small alterations, be transformed into an excellent dry fly representing the largest of our sedges.


Hälsingemusen, the way I make it, is from fox exclusively, where both the long hairs and wool underneath are used. The base of the wing is first folded, then parted, and finally pressed outwards to form two “fins”. The completed fly stands on a broad foot on the water, floats lightly and easily, and stripped across the surface, it creates the V-shaped trail typical for sedge. Use it with confidence - this is a very good fly.


If you like an extra challenge, Goddard’s Sedge is a nice pattern to tie. The material is deer hair, tied in Muddler fashion and formed with the help of a razor blade and a pair of sharp scissors. In my opinion, it is a good idea to cut the hackle underneath, it helps to balance the fly. The antennae have only a decorative purpose and may be left out.


Here is the joker in the deck. The similarity to sedge is not readily seen, but I have had great luck with this pattern. The stiff and somewhat spread out wing made of calf’s tail hair steadies well against the surface, and gives the fly good floating capacity. I like the fly from an aesthetic point of view, and I probably use it with greater care than other patterns.


If you find that the fish owns exceptional strength of resistance, be careful not to tire him by holding back the rod and line too much, rather give the rod a more vertical position, or pay out some of the line from the reel, since the more line you have given, the more the fish tires. However, you should never give out more line, than that you through a couple of turns of the crank or through the angle of the rod, can tighten the line. (Edward Fitzgibbon, 1847)


When in the autumn, I one day return to the lake after a time of absence I am astonished at the change that nature has gone through. I am dazzled by the colors before me. The air is freezing cold, and it feels good to put my hands in the pockets and soften up stiff fingers. The water is crystal clear, the sky high and clean and the silence is almost deafening. September, the best month of the year!


Now is the time when insects, numbed by the cold are swept out on the water, unable to function properly in an increasingly harsh climate. Insects, that otherwise are good flyers, have great trouble in keeping wings and wing-covers in place. Often the flight ends in a crash landing on the water. The rainbow is not slow to take advantage of the little tragedies and often move near the banks looking for the descending goodies.


I am not suggesting that the wasp is a staple food of the rainbow, but I have seen it disappear in a whirl enough times to realize that the fish looks upon it as a morsel. I represent it with my striped Balsa-wasp, one of my very best flies as far as rainbows, trout and grayling. To be fished motionless, but with occasional jerks to give it life. Plopping it down before a cruising rainbow, usually gives an immediate response.


I started experimenting with the Balsa-wasp over 40 years ago, when I made my own second-rate dry fly flotant oil, consisting of paraffin and pharmaceutical gasoline. The oil functioned OK, but gave the fly an unattractive dull surface. My first naturally floating fly I made from cork. But since the cork easily disintegrated when handled, I soon exchanged it for balsa wood, considerably easier to work with.


Rainbows, which appear to move in haphazard routes on the lake, sometimes seem to have a system in their search for food. If you observe how one rise follows another, you may sometimes distinguish a pattern, often in a long oval shape. Keep this in mind, when the raid is all about half drowned insects near the bank. If you miss one take, you can almost certainly count on the fish being back in the same spot about ten minutes later.


The Stinkbug is a land-based insect, which usually ends up on the water when the weather gets colder. Named for the bad smell secreted when disturbed or threatened. The body is flat, and somewhat triangular. It sits flatly on the surface and is hard to discover for the human eye. A fish sees it all the better,and it is not unusual to find up to fifty of the smelly bugs in the stomach of a newly caught rainbow.


There are many flies meant to imitate the Stink Bug. A friend made a most original model from lacquered lingon-berry leaves, formed and fastened on a hook. The fly worked well, but had to be replaced after each catch, or careless back-cast. My Stink Bug representation is made of balsa wood, has a flat bottom, painted black or olive, and a slightly stylized silhouette


You sometimes feel a kind of sympathy with these friendly and seemingly impractically designed Crane Flies (Daddy-long-legs) which lack every form of aggression. When a chilly wind combs through the bank vegetation, out sails these long-legged creatures. They land, take off stiffly and clumsily, land once again. Rainbows usually react quickly, and chase them with mighty splashes. Making an imitation is a challenge for the master tier. A large Variant fly is just as good – and easier to tie.


Rainbows spawn in the spring and are in their best condition towards autumn after gorging themselves all summer. This is our limit after a successful day at the lake - four well-nourished rainbows and, as a bonus, two more slender trout. The stomach content is at this time of the year is often a mix, where land based insects are a significant ingredient.


One day, autumn hits us for real. Grey clouds chase each other across the sky, and a biting arctic wind roars through the forest. Many fishers stove away their rods, reluctant to defy the harsh weather and to dress in bulky sweaters and damp waders. Do not give up, even though the lake resembles a storm-ridden inferno. The last few weeks before ice-over can sometimes grant exceptionally good sport.


To brave icy winds, rain and perhaps even snow, requires a slightly fanatic character, along with plenty of warm clothing. A large thermos of scalding hot coffee is a must. Personally, my greatest problem is my hands. I am sure there are many who like myself mumbles oaths, when we with numb fingers, try to thread the leader through a much too narrow hook eye.


On an autumn day, I ask a fishing buddy to open his fly box in front of my camera. This is the heavy artillery for the last weeks of the fishing season, before the ice puts the lid on. Large lures, mainly streamers, for late autumn and bad weather. The material is soft and fluffy to simulate movement and life. The flies don’t actually represent what the fish usually feed on, and many nibbles are evidently the result of curious sampling. 


The Montana nymph must be one of the more commonly used rainbow flies in Sweden, even though it has no counterpart in our fauna. As a fly tier, I have sometimes sat for a week on end, all day, solely dedicated to Montana on a No.10 streamer hook. During such periods, cassette books have supplied me with everything from the pearls of world literature to detective stories and thrillers.


Here is a lure, first tied by Jim Prey of Eureka, CA. The fly is named Thor, after his friend Thoresen. Jim was one of these supermen, who tied his flies with the hook wedged between his thumb and forefinger. Thor is a bad weather fly that works best when the rain is beating down and the wind howls over the lake. The bright red-orange color catches the eye of the fish even at a distance.


Whenever the rainbow does not rise, it is usually fruitless to fish the same fly over the same area for a longer period. Those fish that are within reach have probably studied the fly and found it uninteresting already within the first fifteen minutes. The attack often comes after a fly change. This applies especially to small limited waters, where the fish has seen hundreds of falsifications, more or less skillfully tied.


Clouser Deep Minnow, regarded by the author and fly-fisher Howard Raines, as the best wet fly of the 20th Century. Supposedly, it has caught approximately 80 species of fish since its first appearance. Representing a fish fry, the weight of the dumb-bell type eyes causes the fly to go deep and with the hook point up. The fly in the picture is an original that Bob Clouser gave us when Bibi and I visited him and his wife in Middletown, PA.


And of course a nymph should be part of the arsenal. Used by many, the Prince nymph works well all through the season. It is a general pattern and may be tied in various sizes, preferably weighted down with a few turns of lead-or copper thread. What it is supposed to imitate? Well, as usual, it is up to the fish to decide.


At the end of the season, the popper is an interesting alternative. The poppers in the picture, tied on a No.8 Kink Shank Hook, have all a hollowed out front, which pushes water and makes lots of commotion on the surface. Fished in short jerks, they omit a signal, which evidently attracts the fish, since the attacks are often ferocious. The color does not seem to matter, it is the movement and the bubbling sound that count. 


Late afternoon, after a chilly morning. Sun touching the treetops and paths of light across precariously thin ice. I can hardly believe my eyes when I spot a rainbow slowly cruising along the edge of the ice, now and again breaking the surface making almost invisible rings on the water. Hatching midges, is that possible? On shaky ice, I cautiously shuffle ahead a few meters and start pulling line from my reel...


And here it is, the last rainbow of the year. A fine ending of a changeable season with both good and bad days. I will remember this fish when darkness descends on a wintry landscape, a bitter wind shakes our house and the alleged Nordic melancholy comes over us. It is the odd fish you tend to remember, not always the largest one.


The sun has gone down on the very last rainbow fishing of the year. A week later the ice lies thick on both small and large waters, and nature has gone to rest under a glittering blanket of snow. Left is the several months long journey through a cold and frosty landscape toward a new year with ice-out, green leaves and blue water. I already yearn for this.


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