Robert Rattray invented this fly in the 1980s, the idea being to produce a classic pattern but one, with the introduction of materials such as Crystal Flash, that stood out from the crowd.
Originally intended for fishing the Tay in the autumn, the Thunderflash has also proved a great taker of grilse and summer fish on the Conon, Beauly and Spey. Black, orange and gold are classic colours for any salmon fly, but the addition of a modern sparkling material really does seem to make a difference.
It is important to tie the Thunderflash with a proper beard hackle, rather than a false one, which has less movement in the water. In bigger sizes, the wing may be tied longer, up to one-and-a-half times the length of the hook shank.
Hook To suit conditions Thread Black
Body Oval gold tinsel Hackle Orange
cock Wing Black squirrel tail with gold
Crystal Hair under and pearl
Crystal Hair over
1. Having fixed the hook securely in the vice, run black tying thread along the shank in close turns. Where the two bends of the double divide, catch in a length of wide, oval gold tinsel.
2. Allow the waste end of the tinsel to lie along the length of the hook shank. Secure this end in place with turns of thread, ensuring that it is straight and forms an even base for the body.
3. With the tying thread positioned just behind the eye, take hold of the gold tinsel and begin winding along the shank. Each turn must be butted right up against the previous one so no gaps form.
4. When the oval gold tinsel has been wound as far as the tying thread, secure the loose end and remove the excess. Cast off the tying thread then apply two coats of clear varnish to protect the tinsel.
5. When the varnish has dried, run the tying thread back on at the eye and catch in a dyedorange cock hackle by its base.
6. Using hackle pliers, grasp the cock hackle by its tip and wind on three full turns.
7. Secure the tip and remove the excess then stroke the fibres back so the majority sit around the sides and beneath the body. Take two strands of gold Crystal Hair and catch them in halfway along their length.
8. Fold the strands of Crystal Hair back over the body to produce four strands. Take a bunch of black squirrel hair, remove any damaged fibres and catch it in at the eye to form the wing.
9. With the wing positioned so its tips are level with the ends of the gold Crystal Hair, secure it in place. Next add a few strands of pearl Crystal Hair so they project well past the wing. Complete with a neat head and a whip finish.
WHERE, WHEN & HOW TO FISH
W H E R E
Flies with a dash of black and orange in their make-up are deadly on rivers nationwide, but the Thunderflash really made its name on the Tay in autumn.
W H E N
This is a great fly for grilse in summer's low water, but don't be tempted to tie it too big — even in the autumn on the Tay a size 10 is often not too small.
H O W
Fish it on a floating line and look forward to seeing those bulging takes — something often missing since intermediate lines became so popular.
T Y I N G T I P
When using oval tinsel alone to form the body it is important that the bed of tying thread beneath is as smooth as possible to prevent any gaps forming.