Red Francis (or Frances) is one of those love & hate flies. Every salmon angler usually has an opinion about it. Some believe in the macig powers of the Red Francis. Others think that it will scare the living daylight of a salmon and result in something else than a bite.
We think that you should carry a few always in your box. Read our tips for fishing with Red Francis and have a look on the step-by-step tying tutorial.
Red Francis has dozens of variations. You can't miss it when you see one. The long "feelers" combined with the bright red wool body is well known. It could very well be a shrimp imitation but the salmon seem to love it. Or they hate it and want to get rid of the ugly bug invading their space.
Most commonly Red Francis is tied on a weighted tube or a plastic tube with a tungsten or brass cone. But there are even hitch variations so Red Francis has found its way to all type of patterns.
Red Frances received exactly 12 % of all votes in our Salmon Fly Of the Year Vote. Read more here.
It has proved to be phenomenally successful. Works in number of colors; red and black being the most common, to white, blue, olive and orange. Olive Frances has been increasingly popular variation (made mostly famous by Antti Guttorm).
It's no secret, that Red Frances works any way you fish with it. Our three favorite ways to fish with Red Francis are:
1. Swing it. Easy approach for any situation. A swung Red Francis works in most conditions. Both, a copper tube version and a conehead version seem to work well with the swing. If the fishing is slow, add a fast sinking tip with moderately weighted Red Francis to your leader.
2. Cast upstream and dead drift. Especially good approach with tungsten conehead Red Frances. Seems to trigger an aggressive response with both fresh and resident salmon. After casting and giving some slack, make sure to strip in line to have a good connection to the fly all time. Remember to use long enough leader to get the fly sink properly. Pro Tip: If you're not getting proper hook ups - take your clippers and cut the feelers shorter. Sometimes the salmon will just bite the end of the fly.
3. Jig it. Cast upstream or across, let the fly sink and start stripping the fly in with short strips. The weighted fly will bounce up and down like a jig. This approach has triggered really aggressive takes from resident fish. Usually smaller size Franceses have worked best. Secret fly in the box would absolutely be a Rubberleg Frances.
In the tutorial, we're tying a simple conehead version of the Red Francis with few additional things such as Krinkle Mirror and Brahma Hen hackle. These are not mandatory and we encourage everyone to create their own variations.
Tube: small red tube (1.8mm FD), burn the backend of the tube
Tail: 3 to 4 red pheasant feathers tied around the tube
Antennaes: 4 to 6 white & brown hackle chalks, add few strands of Krinkle Mirror or Krystal Flash
Ribbing: medium gold
Body: Fluorescent red wool yarn or dubbing
Front hackle: brown hen, in this particular variation we've used orange Brahma Hen
Head: 6mm gold tungsten conehead
Our selection of Red Francises
Check the Red Frances flies from our collection