Hans van Klinken


Only a few fly tiers achieve legendary status. Hans van Klinken has accomplished just that. His Klinkhåmer emerger pattern is one of only a few modern flies having received legendary status. But it’s not only up to the fly. – If you have no confidence in your fly, it will be a lot harder to catch your whoppers, he says.

In this exclusive interview the Klink himself gives you advise on how to battle summer and spring fly fishing.

All fly fishers have their own favorite pattern. We reach for them when the going gets tough and when the new innovative hatches from the wintery tying sessions won’t deliver the goods. Which flies are these, and why do we choose them even when a difficult trout rises and we only have one shot at the hog?

This is the first article on experts and legends from Scandinavia and Europe picking their go-to flies for spring and summer fly fishing.

Hans van Klinken is a modest fly tier living in Harskamp, a small village in Holland. Being a curious and creative sharing spirit, he travels the world happily sharing his insight and experience with experts and beginners alike. He travels the world fishing, but at the same time giving away a lifetime of advise to beginners and experts.

The story of the Klinkhåmer Special

He has developed a special relationship with Scandinavian waters. His journeys as a fly fisherman stared at sixteen when he travelled alone from continental Europe to the Scandinavian peninsula. Up here, with the minds and inspiration of creative Swedish fly tiers and at the banks of river Glomma, the ideas that spurred the insight that later became the Klinkhåmer Special was born.

We all have these particular emergers in our boxes. Either in some kind of a variant, or just the way Hans van Klinken advised us to tie the Klinkhåmer Special. In fact, they are the bread and butter for fishing emerging insects nowadays.

Actually it was after discovering Rackelhanen by the Swede Kenneth Bostrøm van Klinkens mind started spinning. The Rackelhanen pattern, quite expressionistic and out of the box in its design, opened up new doors for van Klinken.

Actually it was at Kvennan camping on the banks of the mighty Glomma river (Norway) where the Klinkhåmer Special saw the light for the first time. That happened on the 27th of June 1984 when Hans was 28 years old.

“It was the “Rackelhanen” that set me free from old traditions , made me innovative and allowed me to think differently. In Scandinavia the “Rackelhanen” is still a very popular fly but worldwide this fly has never got the attention it surely deserves. I have no idea how my fly-fishing would look today without the discovery of the Rackelhanen but that wonderful sedge imitation gave me enormous self-confidence and inspiration to start a complete new way of fly-tying”.

At the time, there were no such things as a low riding parachute emerger avilable. Nowadays you’ll find them everywhere, all thanks to van Klinkens ideas.

We will not dwell with the Klinkhåmer in this article. But if you’re interested to read the real story and the correct way to tie the fly, take a look at Hans Weilenmans beautiful website The Fly Tiers page and Hans van Klinkens own article and tying instructions for the fly (click here).

35th Anniversary next year and a book is due

Since the start at the river Glomma in 1984,  the Klinkhåmer Special has been responsible for fantastic catches for most fly fishermen for 34 years. In fly fishing history that’s not very long, but for most of us we feel that the Klink has been around forever. Next year we’re up for quite an anniversary – the 35th birthday of the Klinkhåmer Special.

The anniversary wil be complemented by a brand new book, written by Hans van Klinken and his good friend Leon Links. Leon Links was acclaimed after publishing the bestseller “Tying Flies with CdC”. Hans is now busy writing a book about his fly tying philosophy and fly design.

“The book is on dry flies, several of which is developed in Scandinavia in the 1980s and 1990s”, says van Klinken.

It’s going to be a comprehensive volume. The two peers both together and separately.

“Right now the book is 340 pages, but we’re still six chapters short”, he says with grin.

The plan is to finish in 2019, 35 years after the birth of the Klinkhåmer Special.

It’s no use if you don’t believe in your fly

Being a real friend of Scandinavian fly fishing, and a living legend, it’s only natural to invite Hans van Klinken to share his ideas on the three most important flies to carry for spring and summer fly fishing in Scandinavia.

“A good fly has to be durable and must be built to last. Dry flies must float well eventually after treated with a good floatant. They also must be clearly visible and float the way that the inventor intended the fly to float”, he starts when challenged to explain the most important characteristics of a good fishing fly.

Hans is underscoring the importance of high quality hooks as well. You don’t want the hook to straighten or break when playing the fish of a lifetime.

“Also, there must be a perfect harmony between the hook and the materials. Dry flies must float and present themselves well. Wet flies must have a good mobility. I don’t like stiff legs and tails on nymphs and streamers, he continuous and explains that good fishing flies does not have to win a beauty contest to catch”, Hans continues.

Having followed van Klinken for more than 20 years, one can’t have avoided his persistence on a solid hackle on the dries. His own experience is that Klinkhåmers with a robust and ugly parachute catch more fish than those that were tied too nice.

Good flies catch fish of course, but a good fly can also be a trigger for fish or make them aggressive while you catch the fish with a different fly. Good flies have the ability to seduce fish to rise even if there are no hatches at all.

“My Klinkhåmer has the ability to do just that”, says van Klinken.

Most of us have our Klinkhåmers, sparkles and halos – all promising to entice the hog to rise and a take on the fly. But still, often something goes wrong. Why?

“A subtle but yet important characteristic of a good fly is that you have to believe in the fly. If you have no confidence in your fly, it will be a lot harder to catch your whoppers”, Van Klinken says.

It’s all in the fly

In his legendary work “Selective Trouot” Dough Swisher launched his selective trout hypothesis, claiming that fish may turn selective only taking flies that are good imitations of whatever’s hatching. Thus the fly is more important than the presentation. Swishers work and challenging hypothesis, starting what might be the longest debate in the history of fly fishing: Is it the fly or the presentation that lures the fish?

Hans is a firm believer in his flies, and has a particular story from tropical waters. Fishing for a Grand Slam in 2010 he came on a shooting distance for a permit (a tropical fish). His cast and presentation was all but perfect, but as the fly hit the water he could see the permit from seven meters racing straight for the fly.

“This is why I believe in my flies so much. I am not a superb long distance caster so I trust my flies more than my cast”, the experienced fly fisherman explains.


Here are Hans van Klinkens top choices for fly fishing in Scandinavia for trout in spring and summer

As fly fishermen we know that choosing the right fly for the hatch can be a nightmare. That is maybe the reason we all have our favourite flies we turn to when in doubt. But what about the experts, do they have regulars that always take up space in the fly box?

Well yes. Hans van Klinken has a clear view of his favorites for spring and summer fishing in Scandinavia.

The Klinkhåmer Special and his own Leadhad are two all-time favorites. But in his spring and summer box, his Caseless Caddis, the Once and Away, the Para Poly Sedge, his special ants, the Culard, Remerger and his Demon streamers are always just decimeters away from the tippet. All patterns being Hans van Klinken originals.

“I  always brings these flies when I go fishing in spring and summer,  and I always use my own patterns. I am confident in them That is of course unless a friend convince me to try one of their new patterns”, Hans van Klinken concludes.


    The Klink I always use in turbulent water or feeding lies and when there is no hatch or rising fish.


    My Leadhead series I use when I want to present my nymph really deep


    My Caseless Caddis I use between weed beds


    My Once and Away in quiet water and slow currents.


    My Para Poly Sedge when adult sedges are playing around.


    Ants in windy or sunny moments directly after rain.


    The Culard in August when you need more tiny flies.


    My Remerger in Feeders and out flows.


    The Demon flies at night for the big Trout