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Iridescent Material In Fly Tying Salmon Flies

Thoughts on iridescent material in fishing

A substantial percentage of the food Atlantic salmon and steelhead eat at high seas is fish often small silverfish like capelin and sand-eel as seen in the photo below. These and many other baitfish and various sea worms have some form of iridescent color structure in their coloration and iridescence as a colour may very well play a part in the way prey and bait play hide and seek in the ocean –
We may assume that the predators have abilities and detecting skills that will get them close to the prey in this highly advanced hide and seek game and glimpses of light shimmering on an iridescent surface could very well be a key element that could bring the predators closer to the baitfish they look for.

What do salmon eat at sea? Read more and see the great images of the food they eat in this article

Proof is in the pudding

Sand eel or sandlancer. A favored meal for Atlantic salmon and steelhead. A fly like The Sunray shadow is a very good representation of these gleaming and erratic fish

What is Iridescence?

Iridescent: Opalescent, shimmering, luminous, glittering, sparkling, dazzling, shining, gleaming, kaleidoscopic, rainbow-colored – We have many words for this highly attractive looking material that we find with animals on land and in water –
Iridescence (also known as goniochromism) is luminous colors that seem to change when seen from different angles. It is often created by structural coloration.

A highly efficient riffling hitch fly with a iridescent head

The recent season I have developed a series of riffling hitch flies where I have incorporated the iridescent properties in form of iridescent pixel flakes attached to the head of the fly a method I also have used on sub-surface flies. The series of flies is called the Hitchman flies and is available through our fly store.

Atlantic salmon on riffling hitch fly
hitchman riffling hitch tube fly

A tiny shimmering Green Hitchman fly – The perfect fly for Atlantic salmon in fast low water

Iridescent material on sea trout lureres for low water costal fishing

  • A # 6 Zonker fly from the ’90s. Here I have mixed iridescent pixel flakes into the glue to create a somewhat see-through body (the underlying body on the zonker fly is a normal black wool thread
  • A # 12 undertaker – with the head covered in iridescent pixels – The choice of background (in this case black tying thread) is part of the finished resulted when the iridescent pixels is added to the fly.
  • A tiny skinny sea trout fly (# 12) I use for finicky fish. The head + body is covered with fly tying thread …then glued with superglue and sprinkled with iridescent pixel flakes.

Over the years I have used the properties of shimmering iridescent material on my coastal sea trout lures and flies and have never looked back sins then.
The green iridescent colouration is effective stuff when you’re targeting fish near the surface (0 – 3 meters down) in clear waters.

Here two coastal sea trout lures (1/2 – 1 Oz.). I designed back in the ’90s

Iridescent apex lure jesper Fohrmann

Iridescent pixel flakes also used on this homemade highly efficient APEX lure from the ’90s

Iridescent material used on steelhead wake flies

We wanted to make our flies easier to find out on the rough water or in low light conditions and added foam with iridescent properties to the flies – little did we think that the iridescent material would increase the actual catch returns – but it did actually make the flies more attractive and as a consequence, we today incorporate the iridescent EVA foam in several of our the fly patterns.
It may be a tiny glimpse of the green iridescent material that spurs the fish to make the tour to the surface…



Here the Flashback Bug a favoured Steelhead fly… If you like to try it see it in our shop here

How to – with iridescent pixels

The pixels will act very differently on various colour background, I have had the best result on a plain black background. I use super-glue as finishing varnish on the head of the flies and sprinkle the pixels into the still vet super-glue while I rotate the fly in the fly tying vice

Many shades of iridescent

The iridescent pixels are made in many shades and the result varies greatly when applied to a specific coloured background – See the different types of iridescent pixel flakes in our shop on here

On the image, you can see some of the many colourations of pixels when applied to a black background

MAKE A PIXEL HEAD - How to use iridescent pixels in fly tying

Danish story on iridescent material in fishing

If you read Danish (Scandinavian) below you will find an article I made in the ’90s about my initial experiments with iridescent material and low water fishing.


Jesper Fohrmann

Jesper is the chief designer and fly tier at Fishmadman - He also does most of our writing on the Fishmadman pages and Newsletter

Top-water fishing is his sport and as an outdoor writer he has been writing articles on this subject in magazines and books in Europa and North America sins the early 80´s.

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