Photo The Tube Skaopper with courtesy of Mr. Adam Tavender © www.adamtavender.com
Wake fly or Riffling Hitch - whats the difference?
Skating flies and Riffling Hitch flies both members of the wake fly group – Flies designed to skate, glide and work in the flow of the water surface, but wake-flies is commonly associated with flies that make a significant wake or commotion in the surface – as opposed to the riffling hitch fly that makes a smaller wake and less commotion – obviously this is not the black & white truth and angler will naturally use wake flies much in the same way Riffling Hitch flies work and visa verse.
Wake-flies is commonly associated with flies that make a significant wake or commotion in the surface
The wake fly is associated with a large group of salmon and steelhead flies that is rooted in the surface hunting abilities of the Salmonidae family and the insects they eat.
Photo: The super effective Steelhead Beetle wake fly, tied on a Fishmadman Hitch tube. Fly designed by Mr. Rob Brown from Terrace in BC
What does this type of fly represent?
Juvenile steelhead and salmon find their food within the river system and have developed skills to detect and track the various groups of insects and other water animals. Some found in great numbers, others when they occasionally visit the river.
Right: a newly hatched Caddisfly making it´s way to safety on land.
It could be that some of these accidental visitors make wakes on the river surface – but it is foremost the inhabiting aquatic life that creates revealing wakes that get salmon & trout going. Both the Stonefly and Caddisfly is known to make wakes – when they leave the river to become fully mature insects – and later again when they return to lay their eggs.
Other things that fall into the water
Other animals than insects attract attention from fish and every day, anglers around the world will tie on surface bait made to resemble animals like rodents and frogs. US tackle makers like Heddon and Paw Paw Bait Company have produced a long line of efficient bait both for spinning and fly rod.
The wake flies in European fishing history
A 1960`s original Hugh Falkus Surface Lure. Made out of a 1,5 Inch piece of cork. Bulky surface flies like this one was also fished just below the surface, using a sink tip or intermediate line. Fly was then stripped in fast.
The first wake fly I learned of was a fly made by seatrout anglers in Wales where I spend my summer holidays in the early 80`s – an old sewin angler (Welsh for sea-trout) pulled a big and very filthy looking wake fly out of his fishing bag – The fly was made up of: half a wine cork tied to a big single hook, other hooks tied to wire was protruding from the cork – left and right – nothing more – The angler told me that the fly was so effective that it was banned on many rivers in Wales – Such wake flies was over time produced in many shades, or rather shapes. The famed angler and author Mr. Hugh Falkus helped popularize the use of the waking fly among seatrout anglers in the UK. In his book Sea Trout Fishing, he dedicated a whole chapter to this special and very productive sport.
A wake fly made for Danish sea trout
Fishing with a wake fly for seatrout is foremost a nocturnal sport and the general guideline given is: To keep the fly in the box until one could not see one’s own hand. Using it in those golden hours on warm summer nights when the fish was thrashing through the dark surface.
Even though night-time, still is considered to be the right time for surface lures, Danish anglers will use the wake fly during daytime and catch sea-trout on a regular basis –
Right: Black Dog Wake Fly from Fishmadman is tied and designed by sea-trout specialist Mr. Dan Karby – who fish the Vejle River in Denmark where big sea-trout is plenty – and surface fishing with a big wake fly is a favored sport – Fly 60 millimeter – Buy flies
Sea trout in Argentina are surface feeders
Sea trout (sea run brown trout) in the Argentinian rivers supposedly derive from strains of sea trout from Eoropean rivers brought to Argentina by British anglers – Sea trout in these southern rivers are just as their Northern cousins very orientated on the surface and what goes on here and it is well worth the effort to swing wake flies on these fish.
Here it is fly angler Mr Fracer C Heston who fished the Rio Grande using our Flashback Bug wake fly on floating lines in the calm of the morning
A Finish surface fly extraordinaire
Finish anglers are likely to be some of the most devoted and meticulous anglers found in Scandinavia. This applies not only to anglers spinning and trolling, but also to fly fishermen and especially those fishing in the surface.
The Surffilauta 1995 (The Surfboard) is a famous Scandinavian wake fly from the hands of Finish fly-tier and author: Mr. Pertti Kanerva. The fly is designed to skip on the surface with the big eye gazing downwards like a scarred fry…Read about this highly specialized series of wake flies in one of our newsletters: Read more
The wake fly godfather
Instead of cork or hollow shaft from feathers (the Calamus), fly tiers will use close cell foam for buoyancy on their wake fly – Foam gives the fly tier the possibility of making light flies that float well. Another way of making a fly “push water” is by using deer hair in the fly design.To the right: Original Muddler By Mr. Don Gapen. This fly pattern from 1937 is probably one of the most versatile and efficient commotion flies ever tied.
A tributary to the mighty Skeena river in BC – the holly grail of surface fishing for steelhead. Photo Mr. Loren Irving
Steelhead on the surface
Flies like the Waller Walker, Wag`s Walker, The Ska-opper Rusty Brown Bomber, Grease Liner to mention but a few, are flies synonymous with wake fly fishing and we have dedicated another page here on Fishmadman to celebrate the many intriguing forms of these flies.Left The Waller Walker – An icon in the world of wake fly designs. Originated by Mr. Lani Waller. Here tied on tube
Atlantic salmon on wake fly
The Atlantic salmon is not overly attracted to flies making big wakes – but will readily rise to slowly moving surface flies making diminutive wakes and a fly like the Chernobyl Ant with its rubber legs and low-key wake can have a very strong effect on Atlantic salmon.
Big Atlantic salmon caught on a Chernobyl Ant wake fly
See the Newsletter on Chernobyl Ant’s on tube
A diminutive Moose Turd fly… designed for Atlantic salmon
Anglers pursuing Atlantic Salmon with dry flies like the Bomber will often fish the fly at dead-drift and not wake it like steelhead anglers would do – But small patterns of the Bomber can actually be efficient when waked and we have designed miniature versions of the Moose Turd Bomber originated by Mr. Bill McMillan – done on our Riffling Hitch Tube
The Yellow Dolly a unique salmon surface fly
The Yellow Dolly is one if not the earliest tube surface fly. It is the English low-water specialist Mr. Derek Knowles who in the 1980´s show the European angling community the way to a whole new line of flies and tactics through his miniature Yellow Dolly flies. The Yellow Dolly flies was an inspiration source for European salmon anglers and spurred the development of many riffling hitch tube flies as we know them today.