Ally’s Cascade salmon fly pattern has caught thousands of fish in recent years and has become one of the most successful flies for Atlantic salmon. Its inventor Ally Gowans tells the story of its beginnings. This piece is an extract from an article published in Fly Fishing & Fly Tying Magazine.
Discussing a friends love of synthetic materials for salmon flies, I decided to make a pretty fly fly using Krystal Hair. I had an enormous ball of silver Krystal Hair that (the late) famous French angler John Luc Martin gave me and a hank of the clear variety. the dressing was a silver tag followed by the first material that came to hand, orange bucktail, too much like Ally’s Shrimp I feared so I mixed it with some bright yellow bucktail. That looked pretty good and was tied in as a long tail, on top I added some strands of clear Krystal Hair. A body combination of silver and black halves and top and bottom black mid wings was added and a silver oval rib. Then a few long strands of the silver Krystal Hair, a black hair wing (top and bottom on the original fly) and completed with the familiar yellow and orange collar hackles and a shiny black head. The whole effect was pretty nice, I took it from the vice held it high for all to admire and suggestions for a name began. The flowing effect of the two colours of Krystal Hair cascading over the hook finally won the discussion and it was christened “Cascade”.
After tying the first example and figuring that a pretty fly should catch salmon I made two or three others on size 4 and size 6 up-eyed treble hooks with just a small change to the dressing to make them suit the treble hooks (I omitted the black hair under-wing) and popped them into my fly box. First success came in the April following. The River Tummel was in fine fettle running clear and carrying an extra foot of water. The day was bright, one of those times when you can feel Spring springing. I parked at the road bridge below Pitlochry and my friend Mike was fishing there below the bridge but having no luck so he rested his rod for a piscatorial chat. After a few hours he had not touched a fish and to provide encouragement I suggested that he try my new fly, the Cascade after all it did look pretty! I tied the colourful concoction to his leader and he waded back into the river and began casting. Turning to go for my rod I heard an excited shout and looking round Mike’s bending and bucking rod signaled that a hefty fish was attached. Deep and strong spring salmon in deep and strong stream takes a bit of subduing but after a while a beautiful springer of around 14lbs was beached – the first fish taken by Cascade.
Cascade has accounted for many Atlantic salmon, sea trout and other fish. It can produce fish in almost any conditions and at any time of year. In the summer tiny flies tied on size 12 hooks or even smaller doubles or trebles will take fish in the lowest water. When the water is higher or colder larger sizes or single, double or treble hooks up to size 4. For really high and cold water tube fly versions tied on plastic, aluminum or brass tubes are successful from the earliest days of spring and again for late autumn fishing.
Tail: hot orange & yellow bucktail with clear Krystal hair.
Body: half silver and half black floss silk with medium oval tinsel rib.
Wing: silver Krystal Hair and black squirrel.
Collar hackles: yellow & hot orange.
Head: black thread or varnish