There are many great flies invented thru out times. The one that always seems to find its way in to my fly box, is the Sunray Shadow.
The Sunray Shadow, is in my opinion one of the most famous tube flies ever made. It was designed by late UK angler Mr. Raymond Brooks in the 1960´s. And if you ask me, The Sunray Shadow is a must-have for anglers pursuing fresh Silver Salmon in any river.
Brooks Sunray Shadow is a mythical fly and has a special room in my salmon fly box. In the early 1960´s Ray traveled through Norway to find the perfect salmon river. He did so with his wife Margit, and eventually they found the rivers in the districts of Møre (Moere) and Romsdal, where they fished for many years.
Every summer the Brook´s would fish the fantastic River Årøy (Aaroy), the river that held the highest average weight of salmon on earth. However, their favorite of river was the majestic River Lærdal (Laerdal) that runs to the Sognefjord. A river that had a historic run of big Atlantic Salmon and Sea-Trout.
It was exactly on the bank of the River Lærdal in Norway, that the Sunray Shadow originally was created.
Like most fly tiers Ray was always looking around to develop his fishing and fly tying. One evening in a friend’s cabin, Rays eye caught a rug in the living room, a rug with long black hair. Ray took a piece from a ball pen and tied the long smooth hair on it – bingo! The simple tube with the long hair was made. The rug was made from Monkey hair and it turned out to be exactly right for the long wing. Soft enough to make the fly come alive and stiff enough, not to collapse in the stream. Even more so, the monkey hair would sometimes become a little curly when it got wet.
you are welcome to join the facebook group the group where people talk about the flies, share ideas and trade. Every month we will pick a monkey fly from the posts in this group and it will be featured on this blog. You will find the group here.
Very fast Ray found the fly to be extremely efficient and quickly developed the pattern. Ray tied the fly with three materials: white-tipped squirrel, monkey hair and peacock herl. The stiff squirrel would lift the long wing free of the hook, the monkey would create the very long mobile wing and the herl would accent the fly.
Ray found a supplier of the monkey hair needed for production and finally also made a registered pattern on the fly that he named: The Sunray Shadow.
The Sunray Shadow fly was tied commercially for the Brooks family by Danish company Lawcock and later with fly tiers in Singapore.
Sunray Shadow very quickly became extremely popular and widespread, since the little tube with the monkey hair proved so efficient. Today the fly is made in numerous variations all over the world.
The inspiration for the Sunray Shadow came essentially from The Collie Dog Fly - perhaps the ultimate smaller salmon fly. The Collie Dog is just a bunch of black hair from a Collie's tail on a tube, invented somewhere in the UK in the eighteenth century. Ray Brooks just enhanced the Collie Dog Fly with some materials, the stiff under wing, the herl and the most essential - the long Colobus monkey hair for the long wing. The Sunray Shadow was born. You can find the original monkey hair for the Sunray Shadow in our web shop here!
The Sunray Shadow is an extremely simple and efficient fly. It does the job with a minimum of extras. The fly is a long, black monkey hair wing on a tube with a stiff underwing like polar bear (my choice), to keep it from hooking itself and then a little flash.
The Sunray Shadow is not a big challenge to tie, and if you are a beginner to tube flies, this is a very good place to start.
Sunray Shadow Recipe:
Tie the fly on a 1 – 1 ½ inch plastic tube. Tie in a small bunch of squirrel, bucktail or polar bear wich is slightly longer than the tube. Top that with the colobus monkey hair. For the finish, tie in a couple of peacock herl on the wing and you are all set. You can add a cone head if you like to fish a heavier fly, or use a brass or bottle tube. Many will prefer to fish the light version in the top of the water, which will give the fly more speed. As with any other salmon fly, you will like to have a selection of the Sunray Shadow in various sizes from around 3” to 6” inches long hair wings.
Some claim, that the Salmons reaction to a Sunray Shadow is similar to a cat’s instinctive behavior to flash out a paw on a string that is flicked in front of it, it simply can’t help it. It just instinctive reaction. The Sunray Shadow with Colobus monkey hair is a legendary Salmon fly!
I will also be chasing the silver dream this season and the Sunray Shadow will once again be a trusted friend in the river.