IN THE SPELL OF
My big change in fly fishing and fly tying came in 1980 on my summer visit to the Swedish river Klara where I met an old angler who was having much more success than me. Those days I was a real fan of the traditional old English dry fly patterns. Interested in his skills and achievement I stuck up a conversation at the riverbank. The man was very generous and willing to help me with advice and tips. After a long pleasant talk about flies and techniques we exchanged some flies and before he left, he gave me a very strange yellow fly named The Rackelhanen. It was one of his favourite traditional Swedish sedge patterns, which he emphatically requested me to try.
Although my fly tying experience was just four years old, my imitation of the English patterns was not too bad and to tie them satisfied me very much. I also had no reason to develop other patterns because I had no complaint about the catches that I achieved with them. Still this Rackelhanen attracted my attention and when I was using it, I obtained nearly the same success as my Swedish friend had enjoyed. In no time the Rackelhanen was put with my other favourites. Full of confidence I travelled upstream, staying at several locations where I caught plenty of fish until the worst happened: I lost my new "favourite" fly and had to revert to my old English shoulder-hackled dry flies again. They were still very effective, especially the Red Tag and Greenwell's Glory or similar, but the Rackelhanen had achieved so much that there was nothing for it but to make a copy. After trying several designs I arrived at my "own" version of the Rackelhanen which seems almost as successful as the original.
I have no idea how my fly fishing life would look today without the discovery of the Rackelhanen. I can only guess because nobody can answer this question. I can confirm that the success of this creation gave me enormous self-confidence in making own patterns and stimulated me to start a complete new way of fly-tying. With my own variation of the Rackelhanen began my fly tying development and that's why many of my stories will be dedicated to this traditional Swedish pattern. For me, the Rackelhanen is a lot more than just an ordinary fly. I have an enormous respect for the maker and it is a pity that only a small group of fishermen know the thoughts behind this pattern. When I wrote my first article about Scandinavia patterns, I knew directly that this was the fly to start with. It is undoubtedly one of most simple fly patterns I know. It is so easy to tie that it is the perfect fly for every new fly tier to begin with. But the Rackelhanen is also an ideal pattern for experimental tying and inventive and creative fly tiers surely will find a way for improvements or changes.
The Rackelhanen is a highly underestimated and unknown fly beyond Scandinavia and may need some extra attention. It is a master design and I never saw a pattern that imitates the pupa, adult and spent caddis, better than the Rackelhanen. This simple pattern is not only the source for my large L.T. series but also the origin for the tying skills I have today. Now almost 20 years later I only can say "Rackelhanen Thank You"
Text and photo
You can read more about the Rackelhanen fly here
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