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The History of the Zelda Salmon Fly

Published: 4th September 2017 | Author: Fulling Mill

The Zelda salmon fly has been one of our most popular of 2017, with many Salmon falling victim to these flies all over the world. We have spoken to its designer, Kjartan Antonsson, and have the full history of the range below. 

The History of the Zelda Salmon Fly

I initially tried the Zelda in 1999. The first time I fished Zelda, got 10 takes and landed 6 salmon. At this moment I knew I was onto something special.

Over the years, a few Icelandic anglers have been given the Zeldas f their own use against a promise of secrecy. But in the end, all good secrets become public knowledge as the Zelda proves.

This did however not happen here in Iceland. I have done professional guiding here in Iceland and more often with foreign anglers. When the takes were slow, I would tie on the Zelda as a last resort… and very often to good effect. The anglers using the Zelda would often request a few for their own fly boxes. For this very reason, the word spread and the fly become public.

Introducing the Zelda to Fulling Mill

The story of the Zelda carried to the guys at Fulling Mill whom promptly contacted me and the rest was history… As the Zelda story has now spread I could not possibly be more pleased with a collaborator than I am with Fulling Mill. It is thanks to them that anglers the world over can now fish with my Zelda pattern.

The idea behind the Zelda Salmon Fly

The idea actually came up some two years before I tied the first Zelda. I was upstreaming for trout in my favourite river here in Iceland. These days I always used a dropper with two single hooks with a bead head. From time to time a salmon would take one of the droppers. This is when I got the idea to upgrade the trout bead head to a salmon fly with a double or treble hook. It can therefore be claimed that I had the Zelda design in my head these two years before making the first prototype.

Fishing the Zelda

With Zelda, all conventional fly fishing techniques work quite well with the skill and ability of each angler. It works very well when cast 45 degrees downstream and allowed to dead drift. This has proven quite efficient for me when guiding anglers that are getting to know the art of fly fishing. Many have left the river with a smile after having caught their first salmon – or the only one – on the Zelda.

For the advanced angler it is interesting to upstream as this allows the Zelda more time to sink. When the line is about to straigthen the samlon and trout get interested. Many fish has also fallen for the Zelda on a fast short strip.

The guys are Fulling Mill say, “The lack of materials, in general, makes this pattern a great fly to use in low water conditions. Although sparsely dressed, this pattern is very mobile, grabbing the attention of stale salmon. We believe the Zelda will be the downfall of many summer salmon this season, hopefully, one will be on the end of your line!”

Zelda Salmon Fly

Zelda Patterns

As the choice of colours goes, every angler has a personal opinion. I have started an autumn fishing expedition with an orange Zelda as this under the lighting conditions looked most promising. It was however only after changing to a black Zelda with a green butt that I had instant results.

My view on this is simple. More colours and sizes = more chance over all.

The remarkable feature of the Zelda salmon fly is that it has proven efficient for all fresh water fish in Iceland. It was discovered early that the sea trout is equally interested as is the salmon. It has been extensively tried for arctic charr and brown trout this summer to great effect.

As the designer of the Zelda range, I share the joy with every angler that catches a fish on the Zelda. I know from experience that will be numerous in the future.

Tight lines to all of you.
Best regards, Kjartan Antonsson / KJ


Peter Rippin, one of the original founders of Fly Fishers Group, can fully vouch for the Zelda being an extremely productive salmon fly. Peter said to Fulling Mill, “I can confirm that the Zelda is absolutely deadly for salmon and grilse particularly in the clear, small to medium size rivers of south-west and west of Iceland (the ‘Dolum in particular!). In my recent years of guiding at Kjos/Sela and elsewhere in Iceland – i.e. the years since KJ gave me the Zelda Salmon flies – it has accounted for a high percentage of fish, often when the Francis and Hitch patterns have not been effective.

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