A couple of years ago I (@flylinus), went to a fly-tying event at a local fishing store. Where Mikael Lindström showed us some old patterns. One of those patterns was the fly ‘Hairy Harry’, a red fly tied with 3 separate wings. I experimented with the tying technique and first came up with a fly that had a yellow wing in the front and the back and a red wing in the middle with a blue front hackle. Almost like a Garry. I tried it in some of our local rivers in search for sea run browns. The fly caught me some good-sized trout, so I wanted to tie a similar fly for the dark hours as well. At first, I tied the fly very slim, but after a few tries I tied the wings wider in the front to get a bigger silhouette. I also added a wide but flat muddler head to it, and the Viking Champion was born.
This has since then been my secret weapon especially for trout fishing during the night time.
A few weeks ago, me @flylinus and Emil @northflies went on a trip to the Swedish mountains for some dry fly fishing. But due to really bad weather conditions with heavy rain and wind we spent most of the week in the tent. After that crappy week, we went straight for Ammarnäs in search for the famous big trout with an average weight of 3,8 kg (8,4 lbs).
The first day we arrived Emil caught one trout during the day and this was only the beginning of what was coming. That same evening Emil wanted to throw on a muddler fly, but didn’t have any of his own with him, so he browsed through my fly boxes and came across the Viking Champion and picked it up. He tied it on quickly and stepped into the water to give it a try. After only a few casts a trout smashed the fly and after a few minutes I managed to tail his second Ammarnäs-trout.
A little grumpy since I hadn’t caught anything yet, I also tied on the secret weapon, the Viking Champion, and the exact thing happened for me. A few casts later a trout took the fly right after it struck the water.
After that we kept on fishing, but we didn’t have any more luck that night. The morning light came, and we changed our location. I made the mistake of changing the fly to a smaller green and black one. Filled with happiness my friend let me have the new spot first. I fished through all the hotspots and didn’t even feel a nibble. Emil came after me with the Viking Champion and had 2 bites in the upper part of the pool, and when he came to the lower parts he caught a beautiful golden trout. Emil screamed out: “Vad har du kommit på för flugaaaaa?! Seriöst!” which is something like: ”What is this fly you came up with?! Seriouslyyyy!”.
This is when I realised I should have never changed the fly. I had one more go with the Viking Champion that morning, and a trout took the fly, but the hook didn’t set. And after 20 straight hours of fishing, we went back to the cabin for a good day’s sleep.
The next evening, Emil gave me the opportunity to choose to fish the lower or the upper parts of the same spot as the night before. I choose the upper parts and Emil went down to the lower parts, both with the Viking Champion on the end of our leaders. I started to make it downstream and felt a bite a few meters behind a rock and were just about to make a second cast to the same spot, when I hear Emil screaming from downstream, Fish on! The Viking Champion again. I reeled in my line and went down to help him land his fourth trout, three of them on the Viking Champion.
We kept on fishing, but a lot of wind made it difficult. Early morning Emil went to take a quick nap in the car. I couldn’t give up. I had to try just one more time. I did my best to present the fly in the strong wind and after a while a trout took the fly with a big splash, just beneath the surface. I tried to call for Emil, but he was sound asleep in the car. I still managed to land it alone and the Viking Champion had done it again. Relieved and happy I went back to the car and told Emil that we could go to the cabin and sleep now, he was quite happy with that idea.
A short story about the name. I went on a guided fishing trip in Bosnia a few years back. Where I managed to land a lot of fish and the guide, I think his name was Dragan, started to call me Viking Champion. So, when I created this fly, the Viking Champion was the obvious choice.
SBS – the Viking Champion
Take a section of black fox hair and tie it in approx. the length of the larger tube. Don’t spread it at all. We want it thin, cut the excess halfway to the black tube. Tie in a piece of wire and then dub with a purple dubbing until your half way to the black tube (where you cut of the excess fox hair). I use SSS Glitz - Rainbow from hell.
Take another good section of fox hair and tie it in with two loose wraps. The middle wing should reach to the middle of the back wing. Spread the wing a little bit with your thumbnail then secure it, cut of the excess at the “bump” where the black tubes collar is.
Work your way to the other side of the bump and tie in some lead-free wire. Make around 4 turns with it and secure it with the tying thread. This should help the fly go under the surface.
Work your way back to the middle wing and dub until you reach the black tube. Take the wire and wind it forward to secure the dubbing.
Take another section of fox hair and tie it in (on the black tube) with two loose wraps. Spread the wing a lot with your thumbnail. We want it wider than the middle wing, the dubbing should help with that. Secure the wing with a few wraps and cut of the excess. Apply some super glue to make the fly more durable.
Now it’s time for the muddler head. Change to a stronger thread if necessary. Take as much black deer hair as you can handle and spread it around the tube. Wrap two loose turns around it and then tighten the thread. Work the tread forward through the deer hair and then finish it off with some superglue.
Cut the deer hair on the top and the bottom of the fly to make it flat. Then cut it to form a wide head. We want the fly to be as visible from below as possible but not impossible to cast.
And there you have it, the Viking Champion.
Red Francis (or Frances) is one of those love & hate flies. Every salmon angler usually has a opinion about it. 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.