Flies for Iceland - Salmon Flies

This is part one of our series of flies for Iceland.

Looking for what salmon flies to tie or buy for your Iceland trip? Below we have assembled a list of our favorites. Take a look at any Salmon logbook in Iceland and you will see these names
over and over again.

Red Frances (and Black Frances)
The pattern was created by Peter Deane back in the 1960s. It takes its name from his assistant Frances Hydon who had the task of tying up Peter’s design.
The pattern was designed to be a prawn imitation and in common with all good fly stories, it caught a lot of fish and soon came to dominate catches in Iceland.
Later this pattern has proven its effectiveness all over the globe for both salmon and sea trout. This style of fly must have been a real eyeopener for salmon fishermen all over,
it's truly something special and quite odd looking compared to flies back then. The shape of the body and the antennas create a lot of turbulence and movement in the water.
The Frances is famous for taking reluctant fish that have been on the river for some time. It's equally good on fresh fish and a must-have in your arsenal!

The Red Frances is almost always found as one of the top flies in any Salmon logbook in Iceland. The pattern is tied in many sizes and shapes and can be fished in a variety of conditions.
The most popular and successful in Iceland tends to be size 12-16 tied on trebles and the smaller sizes tungsten hexagon tube flies for when you really need to fish it deep

How to tie the Red Frances

red frances flies

Collie Dog
It is hard to find a fly with more solid credentials yet a reassuringly humble heritage and is one of the most classic of all British Salmon Flies.
Border Collie dogs were very popular amongst British farmers and local ghillies, and their hair was perfect for this fly.
Simple and easy to tie yet exceptionally effective it became a standard pattern that has been used to great effect for generations.
It comes in many forms ranging from doubles or trebles to two-inch aluminum tubes.
Fished square and fast or stripped back at pace it can provoke very aggressive reactions from otherwise uninterested fish.
In Iceland, it is most popular as a small tube stripped fast across the surface often resulting in aggressive takes. The smaller tubes are also perfect for hitching.

How to tie the Collie Dog

collie dog hitch tube

One of Iceland’s best kept secret weapons in fly fishing is the “Friggi” fly. The fly which was created by
Mr. Baldur Hermannsson is named after his late brother Mr. Friðrik "Friggi" Hermannsson but he had the nickname: “Friggi”. He was the first one to try the fly with almost instant success.
The fly has so far mostly been used locally with excellent results.
The fly is made in many color variants and many sizes, it is even made as a small micro cone. Mr. Baldur Hermannsson ties the flies himself ensuring top quality.
Friggi is an excellent fly when casting for reluctant fish, just be careful using the larger Friggi flies as you can easily spook a pool in smaller rivers.

Friggi Website

Friggi Flies

Sunray Shadow
The Sunray is always among the top flies in Iceland. For some reason, this simple fly is irresistible to Atlantic Salmon.

This popular pattern comes in everything from small hitch tubes up to 6 " long tubes, most popular is the 1-2 inch long plastic tube with 2-3" long winges striped fast across
the surface often results in some ferocious takes.

How to tie the Sunray Shadow

Sunray Shadow fly

Green Butt
Classic Salmon fly of Canadian origin. Simple yet deadly is definitely the way to describe the Green Butt, like others in the list it is tied in a variety of sizes and shapes but most
popular tends to be the smaller sized flies. One of the first flies to try on a new pool and excels in low clear water conditions.

How to tie the Green Butt

green butt fly

Designed by Icelandic fisherman, guide, fly tier, and writer Sigurdur Hedinn, also known as 'Siggi Haugur' this fly is an Icelandic must have. This fly is equally effective tied as a standard salmon fly tied on a size 10-16 treble or double hook or tied on a tube in a variety of sizes. As a Riffling hitch tube though the "Haugur" is unmatched in its efficiency.

Haugur Website

Haugur salmon fly

Munro Killer

Black, yellow and orange make a deadly color combination for salmon and the Munro employs this to good effect with a bi-colored wing comprising black and yellow hair contrasted by a bright orange hackle at the throat.

Many variations are to be found. One favored by Stan Headley in his book Flies Of Scotland has a wing of grey squirrel dyed yellow. Another accentuates the mobility of the wing by tying it as a long tail instead. Yet another adds a strand or two of peacock herl over the top of the wing — the list goes on.

As a general guide to tying variations of this pattern, use more black  in clear water, incorporating more orange and yellow for autumn.

How to tie the Munro Killer

munro killer salmon fly


Black Sheep
The fly was tied by Haraldur Stefansson first as HS special and named Black Sheep because it stood out as such when placed in the fly box amongst the old British salmon flies in the box.
The fly was meant to look like a juvenile eel that Atlantic Salmon are accustomed to consuming. Silver, red and green sheep varieties have also proved effective.

More info

Black Sheep salmon fly

Blue charm
Another one of the more popular salmon flies in Iceland. The Blue Charm has its origin in Scotland, more precisely the Dee river created by Colin Simpson. A perfect clear water fly
Popular in sizes 6-14, single, double or treble hook

How to tie the Blue Charm

Blue charm Salmon fly

The Snælda is a fly that comes in every imaginable color and size. Originally tied by Icelandic fly tier Grím Jónsson in the 1980s and it been a stable of most fly boxes in Iceland since.

How to tie

snaelda salmon fly

Hairy Mary
The Hairy Mary salmon fly is one of the best hair wings for Salmon. This fly proves less can be more.

How to tie

Hairy Mary salmon fly


More salmon flies that belong in your box:

Colburn special


Night hawk



Gary Dog

Stouts tail



Green Highlander

Green Brahn




Arndilly Fancy

Allys Shrimp



By Sindri Hlíðar Jónsson, Head Guide and partner at Fish Partner


More reading on Fishing in Iceland:

Fishing Season in Iceland

Species in Iceland

What to Expect in the Highlands

Arctic Char

Fly Selection for the Highlands

Ice Age Brown Trout