The Fraser River swirled muddy in early July 1998. We were up before daylight and found our way down to a Hope, BC, river bar known as a good location for resting spring salmon on their migratory runs up the Fraser. Drift rod floats such as commonly used in steelhead fishing were not used by the fishermen who gathered here early for a try at a big spring salmon. Instead, about two ounces of weight and a leader around 5 feet long was the choice of setup for the springs. Some fishermen used small spin-n-glos or other similar lures but most used various yarn fly creations! A friend advised us that in his view, the best yarn fly colour combination for Fraser River spring salmon was yellow and bright green with just a touch of blue.
After many hundreds of casts and more than a few lost hook-ups because of the bottom bouncing requirement for your lure to entice a spring, I began to wonder about whether this advice had merit although I did notice that several fish were hooked and some even landed by other lucky fishermen! Then it happened! A strong pull on my line only with the unmistakable head shake of a large fish instantly sent my heart racing! A large spring salmon rolled near the edge of the swift current several yards out and then began swiftly swimming downstream. I hollered, "Fish on!" and immediately raced after it, dodging other fishermen who curtiously stepped back as I went by. About 1/4 mile down the river, the big fish began to tire and I was then able to beach my first bright spring salmon of over 20 pounds on a yarn fly! We will look at how to make the fly in this month's article.
A yarn fly has to be the easiest fly in the book to tie providing you can tie the proper leader to hook knot, usually called a bait loop knot. There is more than one variation of this knot but I will describe the one that I use. Hold the hook at the bend pinched between your thumb and index finger of your left hand. Push the end of the leader through the hook eye towards the hook bend giving yourself about 5 inches of leader to work with. Form a small loop and keep it snug against the hook bend between your thumb and index finger. You now should have about a 4 inch length of leader pointing back to the hook eye. Wind this end around the hook shank at least 5 times and then push the leader end back through the loop you are holding between your left thumb and index finger. I then carefully use my teeth to grasp the end of the leader and with my right hand, I slowly tighten the long end of the leader past the hook eye so that a neat knot forms on the hook shank. As you pull on both ends of the leader to secure the knot tightly on the hook shank, do not pull the knot all the way to the hook eye, i.e., leave a small space between the knot and the hook eye. To make the yarn fly, simply push the leader from the long end through the hook eye so that an opening springs up between the hook eye and the knot. Insert the three pieces of yarn through this loop, yellow, green and blue in fairly thin amounts, tighten the loop holding the yarn, trim to 3/4 inch on both sides, and you have finished the spring salmon Yarn fly!
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