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COLUMN: Dutch treat

Don MacLean
Don MacLean

OUTDOOR WORLD by Don MacLean

This spring I’ve been busy tying some flies to replenish my fly boxes. Most are tried and true patterns which I have caught fish with in the past, and hopefully, will catch some more in the future. However, sometimes it is nice to change things up a bit and try tying some flies using new patterns, or techniques.

I had the opportunity to do just that a few years ago when I had the great pleasure of attending a fly tying workshop in Baddeck. The workshop was hosted by Hans van Klinken from the Netherlands who has been a regular fall visitor in Nova Scotia for a number of years. Hans usually comes to fish but on this trip he agreed to present a workshop on his flies, and how he ties them.

Hans is a very talented fly tier who has developed many innovative patterns designed to catch trout. He is a real student of trout, trout behaviour and the biology of whatever they are eating. As a result of his observations, and time spent on the water, he has developed flies that work wherever trout are found.

Perhaps the best known of his patterns is the Klinkhamer Special. This fly is designed to imitate an aquatic insect, such as a caddis or mayfly, caught in the water surface as it makes the transition from the water to life in the air. Trout know these emerging insects are vulnerable for a few seconds and they aggressively attack them. The fly developed by Hans features a parachute hackle which allows it to float low on the water. The fly also features a unique hook, developed by Hans, which is now available from the hook make Daiichi.

I know a few people who have had flies named after them but he is the only the second fly tier I am aware of who has a hook named after him. The first is Carrie Stevens.

While the Klinkhamer may be his signature fly Hans is constantly experimenting and at the workshop he shared several other patterns which he has success with. These included the lead head nymph, a heavily weighted nymph which is great for fishing fast or deep water. The extra weight gets it to the bottom quickly where the trout are used to feeding on nymphs caught in the fast current.

The other fly was one he called the Once and Away. This fly relies on cul de canard feathers for their excellent floating ability. Cul de canard feathers are found around the preen gland of waterfowl, such as ducks. The preen gland produces the oil which the birds use to waterproof their feathers. The feathers around this gland are very fine but are impregnated with oil and float extremely well.

The Once and Away

Abdomen: One peccary hair, or two strands of contrasting thread, wrapped on hook

Thorax: Three strands of peacock herl

Wing: Four cul de canard feathers. Tied in and then pulled forward to cover the thorax

The Once and Away is easy to tie so I’ll be adding some to my fly box to hopefully fool some Pictou County trout this spring.

Don MacLean is an outdoor writer and biologist who lives in Pictou County.

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