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Mikes salmon flies 04 – Snow Fly

Number 4 in the the Mikes salmon flies series. The Snow Fly sporting a heral wing.

Here is a copy of a snow fry which I have 4 in my collection, You will notice the body is kept deliberately thin the tinsel is wound straight onto the hook. I have mounted my swan underwing first. Touch of varnish has been added to the tying in point and I have removed my waste.


Now I wind my heron hackle around the waste butts.


now you need to prep your Herl. you can see I’ve split an eye up the middle. now place them back to back keeping the tips even.


I have measured the wing for length  now change hands and tied on like a conventional married wing. This will collapse just like a married wing. This will stop your materials going side ways.


Now I have mounted my wing, you want the wing to be tight and not flared out in all directions. I have varnished the tying in point and you can now remove your waste.


Now I have prepped my jungle cock, you will notice I have trimmed up the fluff leaving about 1mm. You can either varnish this or leave this how it is. you will only get one or two attempted at mounting them correctly or you will need to start again.


Tie in your jungle cock along the sides, keeping them even at either side of the wing .


here’s a front view of what you are aiming for.


remove waste and whip finish again with at least 3 coats of varnish.




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Mikes salmon flies 03 – durham ranger

Number 3 in the Mikes salmon flies series. The durham ranger – feather wing.

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Mikes salmon flies 02 – achroid

The second fly in the Mikes salmon fly section is the achroid. This is two types of Dee wings combined. The tying instruction focussed on the wing.

pictures & descriptions by Mike Townend, Aberdeen.

When the body is done it comes to putting on the opposite wing on first. First I will need to reverse my thread. How I do this is by wrapping my thread around a needle and placing 3 wraps in reverse. Each wrap working backwards. Now I will tie my far slip with 2 wraps and reverse the thread back using the same method. If you are happy at this point you can cut off your loop. (If I was using a gut eye I would simply take the thread and place it between the gut and iron)


Here is a front on view. I know have my two wings tied side by side, now I will trim up my waste and leave a little on. I will put a spot of varnish on the waste ends and bind down with the thread.


This is the second style of Dee wing. I what I have seen on the old Dee wings is that they don’t have to meet on the top of the head. You will place this on exactly like the first one but this time the wing is tied on the side of the hook.


Now I have placed on my near side, repeat the same finish as the last Dee wing. This should make a robust wing.


This is my favourite style of wing, but totally useless when it comes to small sizes. As it just becomes a shell back. So I will suggest you uses this style for larger irons.


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Mikes salmon flies – 01 – Lady Caroline Spey

The first fly in the Mikes salmon fly section is the Lady Caroline Spey. Mike thinks you start with this one when entering the world of tying salmon flies.

pictures & descriptions by Mike Townend, Aberdeen.

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Mikes salmon flies


Mike Townend, the man – the legend. I met Mike for the first time at the German Fly Fishing Festival in 2014.

It was great event organised by Bernd Ziesche and his friends.Mike, should you not have heard of him already is an amazing salmon fly tier. Should you meet him (or have met him) you´ll find out that he is witty, very open minded and kind person with a very Scottish humor.

Mike is known for the sculptures he ties. Yes, you read correctly – sculptures.

Mike takes attaching feather to a hook to a whole new level. I had never seen any thing like it before.

I asked Mike to tell me a bit about himself and this is what he answered. Short and concise in his own words.

I was was born in RAF nocton hall and raised in Aberdeen. Started fishing at the age of 5, because i am a 3rd generation fisherman. Grandfather was a champion course fisherman, father was a big game sea fisherman.

I started on the trout fish. I started tying flies at the age of 12, i was intrigued by trout flies and back in the day we used to have fantastic evening rises, when you couldnt fail or so I thought.

With a number of years trying and fishing for trout i took up salmon fishing. I met a good friend Phil Glendinning who introduced me to classic salmon flies and a load of yankee style classics. It was a further 2 year before i met one of the last of the great tyers in britain.

He introduced me to many old ways and techniques. Some of the stuff I am going to show you are from him. I have worked as a joiner all my life.

My favorite type of music is varied but my favorite band is pink floyd and my favorite food is anything I can eat haha. I hope you enjoy the flies I have puten together for you.

Don´t hesitate to comment on the articles. Will try to answer as best I can.


Below pictures of Mikes art:


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Leonardo – sexyloops weekly blog

t.z. | Friday, 15 September 2017

And again – the simplicity “thing”.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Leonardo da Vinci

It is. No kidding. But it takes rather much to find that or these few elements which do the job. The quote implies that the chosen simple solution is more than just an activity, it has to solve a problem. “Do the job”, if you so will and prefer a simpler, more direct language.

Sorry for the repetition – I thought it was the easiest way of getting my point across, even though I repeat myself. But though – who doesn’t?

So let´s talk a litt about the fly I would like to fish more. Like??? — say what? Can´t you just do what you want? – well, I often “preach” the simplicity concept but when by the water I become nervous. What if that thing is actually too simple? Honesty, it feels odd to use a fly which just took 5 minutes max to make. Anyway … here is what happened ….

This late summer I had to trial use almost all of my dries during an evening hatch. I tied them on all – mostly pretty complex flies, like Klinks and the like. Nothing.

Finally I managed to remind myself of what I´m preaching. Use the simple things. I tied the Li-fly on and whammm … It was a huge trout. So big and powerful, I could not get to my hand. The last what I i saw of him was a big salto mortale including a rotation lengthwise. Quite a display in the in the late summers midnight air. F*ck, I screamed rather loud. I´m afraid I woke up most of the village on the other side of the lake with my cursing. Anyway – I granted this artistic display with a very professional LDR (Long Distance Release) Paul has taught me.

… and of course it was the last Li-fly in the box …. typical.

Li-fua (flue = fly) because it is tied with Jurassic hare´s hair and seals fur. The hare is from North Norway, a place the local refer to as Li or Lierne. It´s a take on Gunnar Bingens “dyret“. or shipmans buzzer or or or … I just gave it another name to make things more complicated. 😉

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vice not vise – sexyloops weekly blog

t.z. | Friday, 08 September 2017

I´d like to woffle a bit about vices. The question which vice one needs comes up almost as much as which rod one should use. The right one for the job is the answer.

The job is to hold a hook. Period, not more not less. Some say it also needs to rotate the hook. Fair enough – should you be tying the type of flies which benefit from that specific technique.

The problem with holding hook is that these bent needles (that is a hook) are slippery. Reason is the hardened metal and the finish of the hooks. We want strong, sharp hooks which do not open or break. So the bent needle is “forged” at the bend to add strength, otherwise it would straighten too easy. However, if the forging process goes wrong – meaning pressing the bend too hard, the metal becomes brittle and breaks too easy.

Vices hold the pieces we work on by clamping them. That is the case in the majority of the scenarios. So if that vice is clamping too hard at the forged part, the hook can become brittle and lose it´s strength. That is at least possible. However, many vices do not hold the hooks good enough in my experience. Admittedly my requirements are extreme since I use Dyneema thread and animal hair which I tie in real hard.

The vices clamp is made from metal. This metal needs to match the job requirements too. That is mostly the real difference between the vices. Some vices clamps can actually “chip”, meaning the the very tip of the clamp breaks off when holding the hook. So be aware of that when setting the hook in. Don´t grab the hook too short, or too much, in front of the clamp.

The clamp is closed in different ways.

a) a spring loaded mechanism which is forced open via a lever and closes by itself. The Regal vice is the most known, but also expensive example. There are “copies” of the Regal on the marked, mostly from India or Pakistan. They work equally well, apart from the metal of the jaws. It can chip more easily compared to the stainless steel jaws of the Regal. If you consider a Regal, make sure you get one with the stainless steel jaws. Stonfo also has a spring loaded vice which gained a lot of popularity lately

b) Screws. One or two screws pulling the jaws together. There are a few examples out there which use this approach in a very successful way. These vices sport rather big enough screws.

c) There are various apparatuses combining a screw and lever mechanism pushing the jaws together.

d) The other approach is to stop the hook from rotating – as I would describe it. This needs much less force and so does not put as much stress onto the hook. The hook is held in an eye at the end of a long screw which is pulled in against a surface.

I tried to describe them technically without rating and leave it to you to decide which type of mechanism appeals the most to you. You can see what I use in the pictures.

Budget, is also a question which is up to you. You get what you need in a vice for under 50 dollars. Everything more is fancy and appeals to the fisherman (and his pals) – which of course is something people are very happy to pay a lot of money for. The latest I heard of was vice for 1.175 GBP which per today is 1.500 USD – that is onethousandfivehundred bucks, dough, bread, tamales, scratch, moolah, cheddar, Cheese, guap, lettuce, paper, scrilla, scrill, stash, chips, cake, cabbage, Benjamin, Benji, loot smackers, simoleons, ducats or whatever you preferred nomenclature is … OK, the flies of that thing come with a catch guaranty, I´m sure …………….. not.





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Leonardo and friction – sexyloops weekly blog

t.z. | Friday, 1 September 2017

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. – Leonardo da Vinci

It is. No kidding. But it takes rather much to find that or these few elements which do the job. The quote implies that the chosen simple solution is more than just an activity, it has to solve a problem. “Do the job”, if you so will and prefer a simpler nomenclature.

So what does the job? Finding out about that is a pretty nerdy task. One has to avoid too much emotion and be most reasonable. Add a fish  into the equation and you are in for a life long search for this simplicity described above.

Even if you do not buy into this concept of searching the “one and only” and prefer a rather polygamous approach to the flies you’re offering to lure the fish – there is a limit to how many flies you can throw at him at a time.  Meaning you’re still into this whole “throwing at him” concept. There´s other approaches with longlines and and a floater. But we will not go there?

Why not? … asks the hungry. Why can´t we just catch as many fish at once at the easiest and most efficient manner?

We don´t. We’re looking for satisfaction. The biggest satisfaction comes from having mastered something. As more complicated the task – as higher the satisfaction when the fish is “in the boat”. A while ago I had a longer talk with the fabulous Håvard Stubø (Jazz & Flyfishing) and he talked about friction. Playing Jazz and FlyFishing is interesting to him as it offers friction. The friction we humans encounter is a funny one. More than often we generate it. Our own perception is the hindrance we want to come over. We make it difficult for ourselves. Which is cool … There is not much point in playing the same note over and over again.

So stay with me now. It becomes a twisted thought.

Complexity has a high value. It offers friction – and simplicity is one of the most complex concepts I can think of. One needs to boil down quite a few bits of the puzzle to finally “crack the code”. I am with Paul though – there is no code. That´ll be too easy. Not enough friction.

Simplifying does have very positive effects too. Less “stuff” to carry around. Your fly-tying kit can be much lesser. No more 50 shades of olive …

So here is my approach to a fly tying workplace and how this translates to the tying kit.

I like to have an uniform surface under the materials, and in my view. I used to be really set on dark for long time, but I have experienced that a really clean white surface works very well too, sometimes even better. It really helps when trying to focus on the fly in the vice. A busy backdrop confuses the eye and is tiresome.

Try to make sure you have enough light when tying. I found a nice daylight lamp with a magnifying lens for rather small money. That lamp does not travel well. So I needed a better solution when travelling. So many places I stay, I´d say the majority – does have windows. The Vosseler Vice can be attached to the window glass. That is really brilliant. Another option is a mirror. In Hotel rooms you can take the mirror off the wall. Put it back and clean it well, otherwise you have the DEA on your heels rather quickly.

I mostly tie with very thin Dyneema in white. It is very hard to break and the thread is mostly a means to hold the materials. Of course one can use thread as „tying material“ as well which results in a different choice of thread based on the fy designs various parameters – as in North Country Spiders for example. So there is not much need for 50 shades of olive in your thread collection either.

a set of small, very sharp scissors / a larger pair of scissors for cutting rougher materials

bobbin holders – it is handy to have two at least. It is essential for some patterns, and can be a life saver when one thread breaks and you need to continue tying without having to redo the whole fly

material clamps – regular paper clips sold in office supply stores are very sufficient for the job, however – there is several specialised clamps and even clamping systems on the market.

knotting tool – I use a simple version, or my fingers

bodkin needle

a piece of velcro or an old toothbrush for roughing up the flies

fly tying vise
The vise is a tool holding the hook. In the older days flies were tied on hand, meaning by holding materials and the hook in the hands without any vise. A vise is very handy though. In my mind it has two main functions a) holding the hook and b) support the hand which is offering the material onto the hook. I prefer vises with pedestals. Clamping a vise to a table did not work so well for me, but this is personal preference really. The drawback on pedestal version is the weight. So at home I work on either a Regal, a Regal “copy” (bugs my mind that someone could get a “patent” on a clamping mechanism) or something similar. Heavy machinery, does the job but is impossible to be carried around unless you can use your miles for extra luggage. I have lately moved on to a Vosseler vice for travelling and tying at home. It attaches to everything “flat and gas-tight”, like a window, the foot of my lamp and so on – and it´s lightweight and super flexible. I took a bit to get used all that flexibility to be honest, but now I do not want to miss this again.

I try to limit the hook variants and use one type of grub hook and one simple dry fly hook in various sizes.

I mostly use seals fur or hare dubbing. The dubbing is stored in small plastic pouches. I cut one corner of the pouch to access the dubbing. The other storing method is to stuff the dubbing in to see through drinking straws, or in a plastic container made from greenhouse window material.

wing materials
fibres from an arctic hares foot , also known as snowshoe hare. Beware of copies, the arctic hare is not a rabbit.
deer hair – I trie to get it directly from a hunter. The stuff sold in shops is softer.

materials for extended bodies
synthetic yarn like antron or polyester nylon
deer hair

body materials for nymphs
hare dubbing mostly

I have a whole skin from a partridge, a few pheasant tail feathers and a big bundle of peacock herl.

I use very little genetic rooster hackle in my flies and keep it to either black or grizzly.

a hares mask is very useful and can be used for many flies. It supplies hackle, dubbing, tails & legs … you name it
squirrel skin, mink zonkers

ribbing materials
copper wire, tinsel

beads & lead
Tungsten beads are a good choice. Due to the high specific weight of tungsten, beads from that material can be of smaller size than other materials. Lately some new form of tungsten heads came onto the market featuring up with eyes and such. Nice to look at, but not necessary.

adhesive lead foil

storing pouch
I found a pouch for – believe or not – orthopaedic stockings (not mine in a shop). This bag is really „it“ – all material & tools (except the vises pedestal) has place in it. It simply is rolled together for transport.

So you can see that it does not need half a house for a fly tying kit. All the flies below are tied with what you see on the table.

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69th parallel north – sexyloops weekly blog

t.z. | Friday, 25 August 2017

69 — I travelled around in the 69 zone, not quite 71, but still quite far north.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia – The 69th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 69 degrees north of the Earth’s equatorial plane, in the Arctic. It crosses the Atlantic Ocean, Europe, Asia and North America, and passes through some of the southern seas of the Arctic Ocean.

The nature here is amazing. It is so beautiful that I forgot to fish sometimes. Just being there and feeling the air, seeing ocean and the mountains. It really moves me. Pictures do not do it justice but give a little idea. I have attached a few pixelated impressions. I hope the beauty come across.

I wrote already a bit about the practical part of the travel preparation – the packing of a motorcycle in particular. I did not go into the details of some of the gadgets I have with me. One gadget is a very interesting one though, and it sparked a lot of interest. A very compact solar panel with a battery included.

It´s called lightsaver and made by US based PowerFilm solar. They offer 2 versions. The standard LightSaver has 1 USB output and a multi-color LED that indicates percent of battery charge. Loaded with 18Ah of power, the LightSaver Max comes in at a mere 1,5 lb in weight. The Max takes the basic functionality of the LightSaver, but increases the battery capacity and adds a high power output for higher draw electronics, such as laptops.

I have used the standard version now for several weeks and it is working perfect. Very robust and super easy to use. The technology is simply fascinating. Place the “thing” under the sun and you have electricity. Simple as that. I wished there were many many more products like that.

Back to 69 – during the travel I also “met” the Greenpeace ship “Arctic Sunrise” which is on a mission to stop the oil drilling in the arctic. Brave and very dedicated people at Greenpeace.

Drilling for more oil – What a crazy, backward, ancient and outdated idea. The planet is warming up, and there is no doubt that burning fossil fuels plays a big role in that.

The other day I sat by the beach, and both me and the lightsaver were collecting energy. I imagined the oil platform which is actually not too far away. While looking at the beautiful nature I felt a tug around my heart. It scares me to think about how greed destroys it all.

So the lightsaver is not only a gadget – It´s a statement. It reminds everybody how easy it actually could be. I want to a world plastered with this type of technology. No roof or other suitable surface should be without. The small gadget shows how easy it could be if we just insist on this type of technology instead of the ancient way.




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Gordon Ramsey – sexyloops weekly blog

t.z. | Friday, 18 August 2017

2017. August. Late summer. Finally a good day after all the rain and cold … it felt like the first day of proper trout fishing. I was lucky that Per Skåle of Skålestrømmen invited me to stay a few days at his hut. The good man even managed to order proper weather …

I fished every day til about 1am. When it got dark the action really started.

The fish gather in the faster water running off the upper lake. A good spot for bigger fish is right at the edge. It´s tricky fishing a s there are long casts with small flies required. The various currents don´t make it much easier. Plus one looks right into the low sun. Anyway – I´m just building up to the finale – I managed to invite too good fish to dinner.

One very nice trout which took a Griffiths Gnat with vengeance, and a super beautiful arctic char. I have not caught many char and this one is by far the most beautiful. The colours of these fish make my heart stop and beat faster and harder at the same time. The night before I had hooked on, but made the mistake of putting to much pressure on him. Not this time though.


preparing fish7Fresh fish is maybe some of the best one can find. Self caught, wild fish that is. Not the crap one can find in shops. However, I never take more than can be consumed “than and there”. I´m no big fan of freezing fish and taking them home.


Fish and other good food deserves a lot of respect. I believe that should prepare these fantastic gifts of nature with the most care possible. I avoid farmed fish by any means though.

This is how one can prepare fresh trout (and char – same procedure). The most known and easiest method is to fry them in a pan on the open fire. Simple and delicious. 

However, it´s of course not as simple as it seems. The fire needs to be managed and “designed” for the task. Make sure the pan can be placed save as there is always the risk for tipping the whole thing over into the fire. Frying fish is not cremating it either. There is a difference between cooking (preparing food) and cremating (burning a dead body). Funny how often this fine line is overstepped. It can really bring out the Gordon Ramsey in me. So don´t … at least not when I´m around. Only god knows what can happen …

– You need a frying pan. Nice if you have a lid so the fish can rest a little in the heat without the pan needing to be over the flames. – remember – slow and low temperature is the key. 

– A sharp, flexible filleting knive. By the way – many kudos and thanks to the people having shown me how to do this properly, most of all Aksel and Corsin.

– Butter, can be salted if you like that. 

– Spices – Pepper, salt, lemon adds a nice touch but don´t overdo it …. In Norway and Sweden one can buy Lemon-Pepper. This is very nice and easy to use. You might find it in your local shop as well. But you can also prepare this yourself quite easily. 


Breadcrumbs mix. I have prepared my own secret mix. You need breadcrumbs (please someone help me with the correct term – in German its “Paniermehl” and the Swedes call it “Ströbröd”) This you mix with salt, pepper, wasabi powder, sesame seeds, grill spices, ground lemon skin, and pretty much everything else you like … be creative. This you can and should try at home. Mix and experiment until you have the taste you like. Try it with some fish pieces or just by itself. Fill this mix in a plastic bottle so you can easily pack it and use it by the fire. 

You can also use this mix with a small smoker. But also here – low temp and slow is the key to real good nutrition and taste. Don´t burn the poor fish. That´ll be a disgrace (and bring t.z. Ramsey onto the stage)

…. frying

Clean the fish and fillet it. It helps to do this with a newspaper as cover for the table. The fish does not slide around and you can wrap the remains in the paper and burn it in the fire or dig it into the ground away from your camp.

Should the fish be too small for filleting you can just clean it and fry it as whole. Leave the fillets on the skin. Place the fillets flesh up on a plate and cover with the spices or the spice mix you have prepared. Less is more. Don´t kill the natural tast with too much seasoning.

Put the frying pan with butter on the fire. Don´t let the butter become brown – just melt it a little. Place the fillet as whole or divide it in three pieces skin down into the pan. Fry until the flesh turns white all the way through. Done. There is not need to fry the fillets flesh down. Close the pan with a lid if the pieces are thicker and you want to make sure they are cooked through before the skin burns.

or another option

Trout Wurst (sausage)

Should you not want to consume all the fish right away and save it for later – her´s a trick I learned from a cooking show. Cooking shows are very cool sometimes. 

Curing fish with salt and sugar is known as “gravad”. Gravad means “buried”, but not in the ground. The fish is buried in a salt (1/3) and (2/3) sugar mix. This is normally done in larger pans, pots or plastic containers. This is not very practical in a backpack or the limited space scenario. The pans/pots/plastic containers are used to keep the fish from contact with air. You can also achieve this with glad wrap.

This is how it´s done. Fillet the fish and take out all bones from the flesh. Take the fillet off the skin as well. 

Roll out a piece of glad wrap and cover it with the salt (1/3) sugar (2/3) mix & spices mix. Place the first fillet on this and cover again with sugar/salt. Place the next fillet on top. It helps to have the tail bit of the fillet on top of the thick side of the fillet under. This makes for a more even package. Cover the whole with salt/sugar. Now roll the whole to a sausage and close the ends. Let this sit in a cool place for 24 hours. Unpack and rinse off the excess salts/sugar “gue” which by then has become liquidised. Pack again in new glad warp. Try to make it has compact as possible and wrap several layers of the plastic around. Let this sit for 24 hours again. The “sausage” is ready for consumption. Serve sliced in 2cm thick slices. Delicious with creme fraiche and small potatoes cooked with their skin.

The salt/sugar mix can be – or better – should be spiced. Be creative here as well. Many use dill, but it works very well with wild oregano and other spices in that direction.

Note – make really sure that no bones are left in the fillets. That is actually most of the work.

— images —-

preparing fish1
spot the moose ….

preparing fish2
rainbow …

preparing fish3
and another rise …

preparing fish5
that´s were the big ones are …

preparing fish8
filettet fish … the color is naturally caused by a diet of insects and small crustecians …
(not artficially introduced as in farmed fish)

preparing fish9
fillet pieces with breadcrumps

preparing fish10
breadcrumb mix (in a bottle)

preparing fish11
in the pan …

preparing fish12
a lid helps to keep the warmth … use the fire carefuly to introduce heat to the pan in small portions and remove the pan from the fire frequently to not let it get too hot

preparing fish13
and of course – do not forget to cook some coffe 😉

sorry – no image of the food on a plate – I had no chance as the guests were hungry ….

— foot notes —

* – I know of course what C&R is. But b4 this sparks a long and useless discussion about wether it is OK to eat some of the fish one has caught or not, I kindly ask to give this a longer thought. Harvesting is very depending on circumstances like habitat, abundance etc. However, I personally prefer a vegetarian, almost vegan diet and only eat fish which find my fly or game which has met the grill of my car. I stay away from pets and animals raised and kept in captivity – for ethic and health reasons. But that´s me, you do what you prefer.

** about Mr. Ramsey – I like the cooking in his shows, I do not like the screaming and people pushing and I totally disagree with the use of farmed salmon. The man should really think about what he´s doing. Protesting against shark fin soup on one side and than preperaing an environmantal hazard like farmed salmon and announcing this some proper food does not add up in my mind.