Jurij (Yuri) Shumakov Flies
Yuri was born in and raised on the South Steppe of Russia, hardly the place one would think he would develop such a talent, but he was determined from an early age to become a fisherman. Later he was determined to bring fly-fishing to prominence in his country. His determination paid dividends, not just for Yuri, and his country of birth, but for all those that have been lucky enough to know him and benefit from his talent and advice. As with all of our contributors, I had asked Yuri to write something about himself. The following were his comments. Please take the time to read his words before viewing his flies.
"I started to fish very early, when I was just 6 or 7 years old, and father often joked about my true origin, because no one had been even remotely interested in fishing for the past four generations on either side. Nevertheless, I fished, and Dad followed our team of "fishermen" at a safe distance, hiding just out of sight to check out if we were indeed fishing and could manage with different situations on the waterside. I also learned to swim quite early and naturally, when I was only 3 or 4. Well, it wasn't too difficult for me, because my astrological sign is Pisces (fish!). Dad soon gave up, and left me alone with a company of friends after the first summer of tight surveillance. After my military service in 1976, I entered Moscow State Lomonosov University, and in 1984 graduated from the department of biology as a microbiologist. Since that year, I lived in Moscow. An excellent and broad education in etiology and entomology, many field trips and experiments all gave me a more professional view of the subjects I fished on.
Until 1986 I fished mostly spinning. That year I bought the reprint of a very old Sabaneev book, "Fish of Russia". The first edition was published before the Revolution and Sabaneev himself is a Russian fishing Patriarch, who for the first time described all methods and techniques of fishing, as well as most fish species in Russia. I read a chapter about fly-fishing, and was fascinated by flies and the method of fishing. The first flies I tied were mostly for pike and perch, and fished them with a spinning rod and leader fly at the front of the spoon. Results were remarkable, and this pushed me further into the fly-tying business. I started to tie for sale.
I made and combined my first fly-fishing equipment by myself. To find something in fishing shops was almost impossible. Fly-fishing was an almost unknown discipline in the Soviet Union at that time. Only a few enthusiasts, mostly sportsmen, had real fly-fishing stuff. With this home-made fly-fishing gear, I caught my first fish, and that was the point of "no return".
Around 1988, a small group of Moscow enthusiasts began to meet up, and the first Moscow fly-fishing club was started in 1989. Here, I must thank the many American fly fishermen who donated equipment, tying materials, tools and knowledge at that time, and helped us to build the clubs. We are grateful to Americans like Leon Chandler, Steve Raev and Tom Perrow (please excuse my spelling!), who helped us with advice and fly-fishing equipment. Big companies such as G. Loomis, Martin and Cortland most kindly provided blanks, rods, lines and reels, because those were hard times for Russia, and we didn't have enough money to buy stuff.
You may call it 'help', but I would also call it investment. And I would add, very clever investment. A few blanks, rods, reels and lines made great publicity for American quality, and even American style fishing! Until 1997, single hand rods were absolute favourites among Russian fly-fishers fishing for salmon. Even today, when many anglers choose double handed rods for salmon fishing, they still prefer to buy American progressive and fast action rods. Today, you may find in many Russian fishing shops equipment from such world-leading American manufactures as Sage, G. Loomis, Lamiglas, Orvis, Thomas & Thomas, Scott, Cortland, Scientific Anglers, 3 M, Teeny, Lee Wulf, Martin, Charlton, Bayer, Seems, Columbia, and many others. 'Funny money', invested in Russian fly-fishing 15 years ago is coming back to the USA in much bigger proportions.
Those first Americans who visited Russia in the early 90s would hardly recognize the fly-fishing scene today. Comparatively small to other fly-fishing countries, but very active and constantly growing, the Russian fly-fishing community born with American help in three small clubs in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Murmansk, has made significant progress. Most of the first-generation club members have become professional fly-tiers, casting instructors, guides, fishing journalists, owners of fly-fishing shops or fishing tourist agencies, and simply very scheduled fly-fishermen, who continue to propagate fly-fishing as the most sportive kind of fishing. We now have fly-fishing pages in all Russian fishing magazines as well as the first national pure fly-fishing magazine, "Nahlyst" (Fly-fishing).
My destiny and part in constructing a Russian 'fly-fishing world' turned out to be as a fly-tier and journalist. I collected from different sources all possible - and, more importantly, useful information about fly-tying and fly-fishing, and put it down in the form of articles. At the same time, I learned a lot myself in fly-tying, and presented my own new ideas, techniques and riverbank experience on the pages of one of the biggest Russian fishing magazines, "Rybolov-elite" (Fisherman-elite). Since 1993, I have published over 40 articles in magazines, and on the Internet. By the way, the Russian Fishing Internet is developing very fast, and you can find dozens of web sites, covering all of Russia and all possible types of fishing, including fly-fishing.
In 1992, I defended my Ph.D. thesis and, in 1993, was invited to Lund University for post-doctoral training. Since 1993, I live in this small university town in the south of Sweden. Here, I have found a very rich environment for my hobby: many rivers, lakes, P&T reservoirs, not counting hundreds miles of first class coast line for fishing sea trout and other species. I have many friends here with whom I work behind our 'vice', fishing together and discussing future fishing trips. Here, I discovered for myself Scandinavian style tube fly-tying and became a 'die hard' fan of it. There is no doubt that a particular article in UK "Trout and Salmon" magazine by Hokan Norling, the inventor of the Templedog fly, opened up a whole new world of tube flies for me to discover. It gives almost endless possibilities for tying. I have fished tube flies with great success since 1995, in many rivers on the Russian Kola Peninsula and in Kamchatka, as well as Sweden and Norway.
Since 1996, I am a semi-professional fly-tier, tying mostly on individual order for particular rivers and situations. I tie different flies on all kind of hooks, because it widens my experience. I don't think that tube flies are a medicine for all cases, but since I am particularly interested in fishing at the beginning of season when weather is cold, I have seen that tubes are a very successful weapon. More often than not, popular and easily fishable stretches of rivers are overcrowded. With my flies, I try to catch fish in inconvenient or 'impossible' places. For instance, Russian Bullet type flies give me the chance to present my fly correctly in wild white water under waterfalls and at the throat of pools, where other flies would simply be washed out, without even a minimal chance to be seen by the fish. Fish tend to stay in places where it feels comfortable for fish, not for fisherman, so those are the places I want to reach. There is such a huge variety of tube flies that you can adjust them to almost any type of water and weather conditions, or type of presentation, including Portland hitch style on surface. Tube flies can measure from as little as 5 mm long in body and with any length of wing, to as much as 10 cm body with a wing length ranging up to 20-25 cm. An extra bonus is that on tube flies, you can apply almost any style of tying, which makes tube fly-tying especially creative and enjoyable.
Despite the fact that I have lived in Sweden for 10 years, and have Swedish wife and daughter, I am still Russian at heart. I use knowledge obtained here with the objective of creating working patterns for salmon fishing in Russia. We are a young fly-fishing nation so we don't have to worry about tradition; we can freely combine the best we find across the world: knowledge, equipment, fishing techniques, tying methods and fly patterns to our pleasure. If you happen to read in a newspaper, that everything is corrupt in Russia, or that foreign investments are going to a 'black hole', my advice is to throw away that paper, and subscribe to a new one, because frankly, it is untrue.
The small part of my fly collection presented here on Salmonfly.net is my way to pay back those investments you made long ago. I hope you will find it useful and interesting.
Oops! I forgot to add. "Sorry, I don't like vodka".
Yuri, we will miss you, and you will always be remembered for your sharing and contributions to this great art and sport. Your flies will always be a treasure on this site.
Tight Lines Forever!
Russian-born fly tyer and fly fisherman, Yuri Shumakov, who wowed us on this site with his remarkable talent for tying flies that catch fish, especially his beautiful tube flies, passed away August 20th, 2006.
Bob Kenly emailed me to tell me the news. He wrote, "I am deeply saddened to have to tell you that Yuri Shumakov passed away August 20th of a heart attack doing what he loved most, fishing on his beloved Kola for salmon, I am sure your readers will be as shocked as I was to hear the news. He was a very close friend to me as I'm sure to many others."