Ternald: Tribute within creativity

“STF dubbing all week long!”

This is the second part of our new portrait series, which I introduced last week with the danish super star Morten Hansen also known as mr. @coastfly. If you missed it you can easily check it out right here.

This week’s interview features none other than my swedish coastal brother, the great Jonatan Ternald. Ternald is really beyond any comparison in my book, when it comes down to fronting the new generation of coastal fly tying in the North. He does his own thing, and like Morten Hansen, he has his very own aesthetic.

When you see a picture of a Ternald fly, you know it’s a Ternald fly.

Where Morten Hansen is the front runner of what I’ve called ‘the glass movement’, Ternald has managed to incorporate both tradition and innovation in a fly tying aesthetic that really defines new territory – a new frontier so to speak. Ternald’s fly tying is clean, breathtaking, and astonishing with a lot of respect for tradition. Yet he rethinks or redefines the matter in almost every fly he puts on display, and that lifts him to the very top of what I would call the postmodern fly tying league.

When studying Ternald’s work you can see how the roots of pioneers like Rune Westphal and Kern Leo Lund are layered in razor sharp finishing touches enhancing the pure magic of detail, but yet turned into Ternald’s very own way of thinking in new directions.

There’s a poetry in the way Ternald builds up a fly – and also a hell of a lot of American saltwater running through his scandinavian and nordic fly tying style to be really honest with you. Just look at his fry flies, and you’ll see what I mean. But when it comes down to the very essence of the nordic tone Ternald is a true mastermind putting those vast Scandinavian feelings into his fly tying practice. It’s a study in unique focus, and I just love every little part of it! For instance, if you pay Ternald’s Instagram page a visit (click here), you’ll totally agree with me. But let’s see what Ternald has to say about his thinking and creativity. So folks, here we go!

Kasper: Jonatan, first of all a big high five for taking your time to talk with me about coastal fly tying and for guiding us through how you perceive your own work. Let’s start with the fundamentals. What are the basics of a good coastal sea trout fly? And how would you describe your identity as a coastal fly tyer? 

Jonatan: In my opinion, you can divide it into two categories: provocation and imitation flies. The provocation flies can either be about movement like the ‘Jiggy’ that uses a bouncing walk to attract the fish, or a spey fly with its pulsating body which easily can deceive a sea run like no other. Then we have the flies that uses color for provocation. Pink, orange, chartreuse, preferably in fluorescent colors, seem to have the trigger factor, especially in colder waters. When it comes to the fundamentals and basic of an imitation fly for sea runs, I am all about trying to perfect the right silhouette and profile. I also think it is very important to get the sink rate right especially on shrimp flies. I would say that I’m coastal fly tyer that likes to tie as realistic flies as I can. And I’m one of those UV-resin guys by the way!

Kasper: In your words what defines your coastal fly aesthetic?

Jonatan: A nice contrast between colors in the fly and a nice silhouette, as well as a good-looking tapering and proportions are important features. I also work hard to get my shrimps and some of my baitfish as “see- through” as possible.

Kasper: What is your favorite fly tying material and why that specific material?

STF dubbing all week long! This is for me the most versatile material for coastal flies out there. If only I was allowed to use one material (plus thread and hook) for the rest of my life I would be fine! I use a lot it in of my shrimps as do many others and I love to tie it into small fry flies. But it also makes a really nice bulky head on bigger flies as well. The transparency of the STF is so awesome. It makes all flies dressed with it look deadly in the water. And the length of the fibers allows you to do so much with it in terms of dressing the perfect silhouette.

Kasper: Take us through your work process – from idea to end result.

Jonatan: It can go two ways, I think. The most common is that I want to imitate a specific prey for the seatrout. I start with either going down to the water to study them or doing the lazier alternative, using Google to find good images of what I want to tie. Then I try with the materials and techniques that I think will work best. It rarely comes out the way I pictured it in my head on the first try. But I can see what parts works and looks good, and I will use them for my next attempt where I swap out the things that I didn’t like. I get a lot of inspiration and ideas from Instagram and not only coastal tyers, but also by looking at nymphs and wax worm imitation for example. It’s awesome to use that as an inspiration to a shrimp fly. Sometimes I get a new material in my hand that I just have to use, and then I start tying until I find a pattern that will do the material justice.

Kasper: If you could pick only one pattern, what would it be? Shrimp or baitfish?

Jonatan: I’m a shrimp guy. I fish with shrimps through the whole season. Of course, I fish with a lot of baitfish also, but I catch more fish on the shrimp fly.

Kasper: What does tradition in the sense of fly tying mean to you – and how do you use tradition?

Jonatan: Tradition for me is hackle flies or old school flies like the Mickey Finn, which are super effective streamers that seem to be able to catch fish all the time. I tie hackle flies as well, and I fish them with great success. But traditional flies are not the reason why I get the opportunity to answer questions from you. There are way better tiers then me doing this type of fly. My thing is “modern” flies that many tyers would categorize as not being fly tying in a traditional sense. My goal is to make the best-looking fly as possible, and I’ll use any technique or material that will do the job. How I use tradition, is more related to the materials, I think. I’m a big fan of oldschool materials such as buck tail or mallard feathers.

Kasper: What is in your opinion the most important feature or design aspect of a coastal sea trout fly?

Jonatan: It’s hard to pick one thing only. However, if I must, I would have to say the silhouette, combined with the right speed and your own movement when stripping the fly home are the factors that will help you catch the most fish. Fly tying is only a part of the great deceive, which is important to remember.

Kasper: Let’s take a look in the crystal ball: What is the next big thing in coastal fly tying?

Jonatan: There will always be new awesome materials, but I’m thinking more about the type of flies, we use. My home water is in the archipelago outside of Gothenburg on the Swedish west coast. I do a lot of boat fishing far out in deeper waters with sinking lines chasing the big trouts feasting on herrings. Many of us have seen big herring in the stomach of a sea trout, so I often fish with herring flies and catch quite big ones. This summer I’ve been trying out big articulated streamers. There are probably many anglers who have tried this already, but I’m convinced that the same rule applies in the sea as it does in fresh water. Big fly equals big fish. Speed has been a key element to get the seatrout to bite. If this is going to be the next big thing? Maybe, maybe not. But one thing is certain: both the fishing and the tying with these big flies is a heck of a lot of fun!

Kasper: What is your proudest achievement up until now as a skilled fly tyer, what is your biggest invention so far?

Jonatan: I would have to say my own pattern, the ‘Super Shrimp’. A realistic shrimp pattern that has caught many nice fish and that I have gotten much attention for.

Kasper: Thanks again, Jonatan, for the nice chat. It is absolutely no secret that I totally adore your work, and I often turn in your direction when seeking inspiration for my own fly tying. I wish you the best of luck in the great times ahead, my friend.

Well, that was it for this time around. I hope you have enjoyed reading about two of the most skilled scandinavian fly tyers out there at the moment and their way of thinking. What really sums up both Morten Hansen and Jonatan Ternald’s fly tying aesthetic is the will to constantly push the boundaries of what could be achieved. I’m also intrigued by the fact that I’m not the only one who has a deep-rooted belief in integrating practical experiences of fly fishing into the way we practice fly tying – and at the same time respect the traditions and works of others. It’s so inspiring for all of us to really follow that road or direction within the fly fishing community.

I don’t know what you thought of it, but I’m already a big fan of both Morten’s and Jonatan’s future prospects of using big streamers for searuns. I really think there’s a great potential in rethinking the whole American tradition of saltwater streamer flies in that direction and adapt them to the scandinavian conditions. Let’s get this thing started right now, folks!

Have a great week,

// Kasper

Photo credits: Morten Valeur

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

@coastfly: The New Glass Aesthetic

“Shriiiiiiimp! I just love Shrimps.”

This is the first part of two similar portrait interviews, I’ve conducted with two extremely talented fly tyers. I have wanted to do this for a long time, and by adding a new dimension to this little intergalactic coastal cruiser called kystflue.com, I guess I’ve taken the very first step into a new future for the website. And I love it already!

First of all you’ve probably noticed that I am writing in English. Don’t worry; we’re not transforming kystflue.com into an all-english endavour from this day forward. But occasionally we will be writing in English.

Some evil tongued gangsters might think that we’re just trying to be international badasses, but the truth and simple reason is actually somewhat quite different. We have experienced an awesome increase in readers from the US, Germany, UK, and the rest of Scandinavia etc. during the last year, which we are really excited about. It is as simple as that; we want to share special parts of our adventure with them too. Especially if specific blog themes contain broader perspectives than just coastal fly fishing on Funen. What you are about to read, has this broader angle attached to it, so let’s take this a step further, coastal brothers.

If you have paid attention to social media types such as Instagram when looking for fly tying inspiration, you have probably noticed that there is something exciting going on in the deep southern parts of Denmark and on the west coast of Sweden simultaniously.

I have baptized the movement: “The new glass aesthetic”. This movement is in my opinion lead by two extraordinary coastal fly tyers, and this week we’ll zoom in on the danish contribution.

I remember the first time I caught a glimpse of the ‘Glass Shrimp’ by @coastfly. I instantly felt this creative fly tying urge rise deep inside of me, almost like a divine intervention. It was a new direction. What I saw was something fresh, personal and mesmerizing. Simply a new take on tradition, and it was the real deal for me.

True talent is not a question of time length, but rather the ability to create something extraordinary in the now. My good friend Morten Hansen, the man behind @coastfly, is the very realization of that concept. Since I started following Morten’s fly tying endavours, I’ve been really curious to get to know his way of thinking coastal seatrout flies to fully understand how a master perceive the very aesthetic of fly tying in regards of different techniques and material use – and how it links to the pragmatic side of fly-fishing in saltwater. What I love about Morten’s fly tying is the attention he brings to small details and how he manages to create pure awesomeness out of few materials. But one thing is how I interpret Morten’s work, a whole different level is when it comes from the mouth of the glass master himself. So here we go, folks. Let’s get into business and see what’s on Morten’s mind.

Kasper: First of all thank you so much for taking your time to chat with me about the concept of coastal fly tying and your own awesome work. Let’s start with the ground work. What are the basics or fundamentals of a good coastal seatrout fly?

Morten: Well, the basics and/or fundamentals – in my opinion – are mimicking the real deal (shrimps, baitfish etc). Not so much in color, but mainly in shape, and the way the prey looks and moves.

Kasper: How would you describe your identity as a coastal fly tyer?

Morten: I’m a so-called “late bloomer” and have only been tying flies for roughly 4 years now – But it didn’t take long for me to know in which direction I wanted to go with my flies. Modern flies with new techniques and more realism is what I like to tie – although I absolutely love a classic as well.

Kasper: In your words what defines your coastal fly aesthetic?

Morten: Tough question! I think the key thing that defines my work is my eye for small details and the fact that I use more time on each fly that drops of my vise than the average fly tier. It’s important to me to make the fly look perfect. By that, I mean some people tie fast because they don’t care about looks and they know that the fly will fish just as well as anything from my fly box – and that is absolutely fine with me. I just like my flies to look good in the box as well – and most of us choose the best looking fly in the box to strengthen our beliefs in that fly and in its capabilities in catching that dream fish.

Kasper: What is your favorite fly tying material and why that specific material?

Morten: Few. It is no secret that I love UV-resin, but that’s not really a material, I guess, more like a helpful tool as I see it. But if I would have to choose one material for every fly, I would choose craft fur. It’s cheap, it’s very soft but strong at the same time, it comes in all colors of the rainbow, and it even has “underfur” which you can use as dubbing as well. Very versatile in my opinion. Also because craft fur can be used as a substitute for spey feathers – which we all know costs a hell of a lot more!

Kasper: Take us through your work process – from idea to end result.

Morten: I’m kind of a “run and gun” type of person when it comes to designing and creating. Most of the time I will sit down and just scramble through my materials and place matching colors, feathers, flash etc. on the table in front of me and then I just tie by “feel” and intuition. I know it sounds strange, but I rarely get the ideas when I’m not sitting by my vise. Except for the ‘Glass Shrimp’. That glorious little thing came to my head in a pet store as I walked by a tank full of shrimps.

Kasper: If you could pick only one pattern, what would it be? Shrimp or baitfish?

Morten: Shrimp. Definitely Shrimp. Shrimps are always on the menu of a hungry saltwater predator. And it’s fairly an easy prey as well. So that´ll be the shrimp. Shriiiiiiimp! I just love Shrimps.

Kasper: What does tradition in the sense of fly tying mean to you – and how do you use tradition?

Morten: I respect the traditional way of tying flies and what it has done for fly tying from start to where we are today. That being said I like to do my own things in my own way – and I will choose UV-resin over epoxy any day because it’s easier, a lot faster and not so messy. But as mentioned earlier in this interview I absolutely LOVE a good well tied classic pattern. Like the “Grå Frede” or “Magnus” and so on.

Kasper: What is the most important feature or design aspect of a coastal seatrout fly?

Morten: The most important thing to me is to make the fly look like the prey I’m imitating – at least in silhouette. That is why I mentioned earlier that color isn’t the most important thing. Try taking a grey fly and hold it up against the sky looking at it from the fish´s point of view. Now do the same with a yellow one, or a red one. They all look grey from this point of view. I don’t know how to feel about the whole fluorescent hype at the moment. It looks good – yes. However, does it get me more fish? Maybe. Maybe because I have a stronger belief in that fire red fly and therefore will fish it more actively and creative. But then again – look at “Kobberbassen”. That fly fools more seatrout than almost any other fly out there – and it has no fluorescent materials in it what so ever. I think the real secret lies within the belief in the fly on my leader.

Kasper: Let’s take a look in the crystal ball: What is the next big thing in coastal fly tying?

Morten: Well, I think (and hope) that big streamers will find their way into our boxes in the future. They´ve already proven themselves in rivers and lakes for both seatrouts and salmons, so why would they not work on the coast as well?

Kasper: What is your proudest achievement up until now as a skilled fly tyer, what is your biggest invention so far?

Morten: That will be the ‘Glass Shrimp’. Hands down. End of story. That fly was a homerun so to speak. My flag ship and my proudest moment – and it really got my name “out there”. Time will test its capabilities whether it will become a “classic” in the future. But I’ve caught 6 saltwater species on it so far (seatrout, flounder, garfish, mackerel, weever, and cod). So I know it works. It eventually lead to a whole glass series, which I’m very proud of as well. There are many fly tiers out there, and they all wants to “reinvent” the wheel. I think that the ‘Glass Shrimp’ and its cousins ignited a spark in a whole new breed of fly tiers. And also creativity in what can be done with just a few materials and some UV-resin. As an example: Jonatans extremely beautiful “super shrimp”. I mean look at that thing! That is the best damn looking shrimp fly I have ever seen since Kern Lunds “Perfect Leo Shrimp”!

Kasper: Well, that was really it, Morten. You’re one hell of a nice guy, a much-talented fly tyer, and I really think you’ll be one of the front runners of the future of coastal fly tying. I really like the way you interpret various aspects of your seatrout flies, from silhouettes over color to your personal take on tradition and creativity. I’m a fan! Best of luck, buddy! 

If you want to follow Morten’s work in the future, just click on the following links:

I totally recommend the episode about ‘hook talk’ and of course all of Morten’s fly tying videos – such a priceless inspiration going on there! Or simply just watch Morten perform mad skills mastering UV-resin like a pro in this video from Ahrex:

Next week’s interview will feature none other than the great Jonatan Ternald – stay tuned, folks! There’s a real treat coming your way!

// Kasper

Photo credits: Morten Hansen