At that time some fisheries like Viaduct Fishery in Somerset were stocking with sebaco salmon. These are American land-locked salmon that originated from Sebaco lake in Maine. It is believed that during the ice age many salmon were trapped in the lake, as the rivers running from the lake to the sea became sealed off. Some of the salmon parr adapted to the lake and used it as their equivalent of the sea. They spawned in the lakes feeder streams and lived most of their lives in the lake. Naturally the feeding in the lake was not as rich as the sea and the fish did not reach the same size as their Atlantic brothers and sisters. My research from American literature showed that they appeared to average about 2 1b. 1 am told that at Roadford Reservoir in Devon we could be seeing the development of English land locked salmon. They were trapped as the River Wolf was dammed off and I understand that land-locked salmon of about 21b have been caught.
Naturally to catch one of these fish to order was going to be a great challenge. Being a salmon, I thought that I would need a stronger hook than normal so I had a chat with Lee. He produced a series of bead head flies tied on low water salmon irons for me to use.
On the day, I managed to aggravate one of the land locked salmon so that it literally flew at the nymph. It put up a terrific fight for such a small fish. It went just over 41b but it had hit that damsel tied on the low water salmon iron so hard that I had to go and get pliers out of the car to get the hook out. I have never had a hook stick in so hard.
Since then I have regularly used this damsel fly pattern on those strong hooks for stalking jumbo rainbows in confined spaces. These hooks hold very firmly and never straighten no matter how hard the fish is held. This pattern of damsel looks very attractive and in practice is a good pattern, fished either stalking or pulled back with a conventional retrieve.
This is a case of a special fly designed for one specific application having a much greater general value for another species.
Tying the big fish damsel nymph
Hook-Size 10 low water salmon (sprite).
Body-olive seals fur substitute (Veniards)
Thread-olive unwaxed professional.
Hackle-English partridge neck hackle dyed olive
Tail-five olive English partridge neck hackle fibres
Rib-Gold wire size 25
Wing case-Dyed olive swan substitute.
Gold bead size 3mm.
Step 1 Slide the gold bead up to the hook eye.
Step 2 Start tying thread just behind bead and in close turns take the
thread half way down the shank.
Step 3 Catch in ribbing wire and continue till just before bend.
Step 4 Tie in tail and dub on seals fur substitute. In close wraps,
form a body. Stop 5mm from the gold bead.
Step 5 Take a 4mm slip of swan substitute and tie in 5mm from bead.
Step 6 Tie in partridge feather by the tip of the hackle.
Step 7 Take thread back 5mm from bead and dub on more seals fur
substitute and wind to form a thorax.
Step 8 Grip the hackle stalk with hackle pliers and take two turns
immediately behind bead.
Step 9 Now take swan substitute through hackle and tie in behind
bead with a whip finish.
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