Part 1 : Gear, flies and safety
If you tell people you’re going fly fishing in Norway, you’re bound to get the question of whether you will be chasing grayling, trout, pike or salmon.
If you then answer that you will be fishing for pollack during the entire trip using a float tube, you usually get to see frowned eyebrows.
I must admit that I initially had some reservations when two fishing buddies of mine asked me for a Summer Pollack trip to Norway.
I had already heard about fly fishing for pollack from the coasts, but to even consider paddling with a small float tube on such impressive fjords?
After reading some reports written by our northern neighbors from Holland Cornelis van Leeuwen and Jelle Westerhuis about heavy rods, heavy sink tip lines, hard takes, pounding big fish, I was really keen to get over there.
That’s why I would like to give you some tips and tricks about this rather impressive type of fly fishing.
Choice of float tube and accessories
For this type of fishing, you need a solid, rugged and secure float tube. Currents and strong winds on fjords can create really rugged conditions. The choice is entirely up to the fisherman himself, everyone has his own preferences.
A high sitting V type of a well-known brand has my preference. The current has less impact on this type of boat than when using a low sitting donut model.
The newer, larger models made of Hypalon, equipped with small oars, and with some clever modifications like an electric motor, are fantastic for this kind of fishing.
There is also some free space in the front needed for installing a sonar fish finder. One also needs plenty of storage space for the fish finder battery, spare reel(s), fly boxes, food and beverage, etc.
Always wear a lifejacket on the fjords!
When you get to a certain fishing spot, first check the situation from the bank. By this I mean the direction and strength of wind and currents, the potential places to get into the water. But also to ensure, when necessary, that there are other places where you will be able to climb out.
I also advise you not to fish alone, but in the company of one or more fishing buddies: this is not just a lot more fun, but also a lot safer.
A simple referee’s whistle enables you to inform your companions that you are in some kind of danger, or that you have a really big fish on.
Fishing Gear selection
To begin with, we need a solid fly rod with a line rating between # 8 and # 11. You can use lighter rods, but the big 70cm+ pollack will give you a very hard time.
Hooked pollack invariably dive into the depths, they want to get to the bottom. Here there are sharp stones and/or kelp where they are likely to swim into and possible get you stuck. Do you want the really big ones on the picture? Then use a solid # 10 fly rod!
You will also understand that a solid, preferably salt water resistant fly reel with a strong drag is a must.
You can summarize the required fly lines in a single phrase: very heavy sinking shooting head lines between 300 and 450 grains.
Prolonged use of such lines requires ‘stripping fingers’ to protect your fingers.
We keep the leader very simple: 1.5 to 2 meters 0.40 fluorocarbon. “Tough as old boots “, like they say. Furthermore, you also need a good set of long nosed unhooking pliers.
About the flies to use I can be brief: do not go into the water without weighted Clouser Deep Minnows in the following color combinations: white-chartreuse, white-yellow, white and pink, white and blue, and possibly a completely black version.
More important is to tie these flies in different lengths and hook sizes, ranging from 5 to 15cm in length, on hook size 3 up to 3/0.
You should adapt the size of the heavy dumbbell eyes to the chosen hook size.
During our last trip Clouser flies, 5 to 8cm long, tied with bucktail or artificial hair were the favorites.
If you knot these weighted streamers to you leader using an open loop knot, you will see that they will move much more beautiful and seductive through the water.
To be continued…
Photos: Karel Deblaere, Ward Van de Geuchte, Steven Dierickx and Simon Desmet