Varzuga dot com (and a tube-fly breakfast)

Amid the momentous events of the past few days (the Royal hitching of Wills and Kate/the death of Osama Bin Laden), I don’t want to sound flippant but in the so far blank canvas that is the 2011 salmon adventure there has arrived what is for me an equally momentous event.

On May 14th I’m going back to Russia to fish Kola’s opening week of the season, on the River Varzuga.

Last year I went because I was forced to work and fish. This year I’m going to fish and work on another project, of which more in the months to come. Either way the Kola beckons and I’m looking forward to meeting up with friends and a very good bunch of people and staff who work for Roxtons. The river beginning with V is the most prolific salmon river in the world and it’s pretty darned cold out there at the moment and I don’t even know if the ice has broken yet. The shock to the system will be pretty grim I imagine as for the past month or so it’s felt like Ibiza here in Cambridgeshire and I’m getting a nice sun tan. But a spell in the banya (the Russian sauna) should sort things out and hopefully an angry silver bar from the White Sea churning line off the reel and the fifteen-footer bouncing about in the light of the arctic sun will also serve to warm things up if I lose the feeling in my fingers.

Mmmmm, Mum's marmelade!

So the significance of these pictures is that in the time honoured fashion I have managed (fanfare like the one on Friday in Westminster Abbey) to tie some tube-flies for the trip. What is it about tying flies and the way one’s fellow fishers smugly (it seems to me) announce they have managed to tie all theirs – it reminds me conversely of the way one’s fellow students in the sixth form or at university would say they had done NO revising (but of course they had). Either way one feels a bit guilty and in the end you can stand it no longer and have to get winding tinsel and sticking your fingers together.

So I awoke yesterday on bank holiday Monday, May 2 to find myself compelled to set up my battered fly-tying vice at the breakfast table. The fly here is a variation on the Posh Tosh, tied on a Tubeology tube.

The session, however, was over as quickly as it had begun as the rest of the family came downstairs. Time to nuke the coffee in the microwave and wait for the varnished fly head to dry. And finish my breakfast (the toast looks a bit cold doesn’t it?).

You may be interested to follow the Varzuga blog from about May 12 onwards with first fishing reports from May 15 I’d think – there’s a link down the side here – or go to – Roxtons’ Christopher Robinson and Charlie White put on a great show with it on its inaugural year last year. I shall post full reports and pictures here on my return.


About henrygiles

Born to fish forced to work and fish
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5 Responses to Varzuga dot com (and a tube-fly breakfast)

  1. Nick says:

    Good luck, Henry! I’ll watch the blog with interest. Now, if those salmon up there are really discerning, I reckon if you took some of that delicious-looking marmalade and dipped your tube fly in it before casting, that you wouldn’t have to worry about the cold too much. Nick

    • henrygiles says:

      Cheers Nick, It’s funny you should say that about the French jam because orange is an excellent Varzuga colour (for example the dreaded Allys Shrimp is a killer). Hope you get some fishing in soon – Henry

  2. Nick says:

    Thanks, Henry – Scotland in four weeks and four days and counting…

  3. Ken Reid says:


    I had fantastic sport on the Varzuga two years ago fishing with some of Ross Macdonalds Park Shrimps. Some were tied on size 6 loop doubles as well as smaller ones to size 13. I also used a copper Park Shrimp tube fly for the first couple of days as we had snow and the river was cold-the fish a bit stiff too. What I found astonishing was the change in weather over our week. At the start of the week we had snowfalls and a cold river and by the end of the week we had air temps of 70 degrees Farenheit and a river sitting at 50 degrees Fahrenheit. As the river warmed up so did the sport with the salmon. I had my best days salmon fishing to date with 26 to 20 lbs on the last fishing day and stopped at 5pm ! I recall that day using a full floater rio afs 8/9 with a 15 foot leader and the size 13 Parky. Reid Hagelin gave me a red card for catching too many fish !! Some great memories from fishing that special river. Tight lines and have a ball in Murmansk. Ken

  4. henrygiles says:

    Cheers Ken, Yes the change of weather and water temperature within a single week is a well documented phenomenon Varzuga-side. Even in our week last year the water went from about plus 3 deg C to 10 or 11 in the week. The water meanwhile fell from a great height and was like a giant falling spate. I am not surprised you were red-carded with 26 salmon in a day inscribed in the back of your fishing licence. And not to forget that 20-pounder, and absolute monster for the ‘VZ’ and I sure hope I encounter one like that. T+S editor Andrew has kindly given me 3 very handsome silver coneheads (black, fluo green, jc, one with some orange, perfect for the VZ to try. And I’ve place a last-minute order with Sportfish for some fly tying extras. Blimey I’m starting to feel pretty ready for it now and it’s still 10 days to go. No, nine. OHmegahd!

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