Game Changers are a relatively new style of flies, tied on a number of shorter or longer shanks, connected together with small eyes. The shanks themselves come from just a centimetre in length and upwards. Linked together like a chain, the style and technique is excellent for tying big flies, long flies and even smaller flies with plenty of built in mobility.
Shanks them selves – looped pieces of hook steel, aren’t exactly new. Since the 1950s we’ve know Waddington Shanks, cleverly names so, because they were invented by the late Richard Waddington. His wish was to fish large flies and avoid the leverage on the hook hold that a large, traditional single can give. The Waddington-system was an ingenious way to circumvent this problem by adding an eye to the back of a “hook”, allowing the hook to swing and bend, eliminating the leverage-problem. Strangely enough, no one, at least to my knowledge, ever though as far as to link the shanks together.
Decades later the Intruder-style flies came along, also tied on shanks, but on single-wire shanks. The purpose was much the same – large flies with no leverage, and since the hook was placed in a loop on the shank, the fly tier decided how far back she or he wanted the hook in the fly. The wire loop for the fly also offered the possibility to swap hooks if they were damaged.
Finally I’m almost tempted to say, looking back, Blane Chocklett came up with the idea of several, looped shanks put together to form big and mobile platforms for flies. Blane Chocklett’s book, Game Changer, came out just over a year ago and was in itself a game changer, but the title of course also refers to the name of tying style. As with so many others, what may have stared as a single pattern, is now a style.
The style lends itself really well to both small and large flies. A small sculpin on just two shanks for a little added movement, or a large streamer on several shanks, providing both length and plenty of action in the water. In Scandinavia, the rag worm hatch in the early spring is a seasonal high for saltwater anglers and the worms grow big. A rag worm Game Changer is a perfect choice when imitation these large critters.
Several of our hooks are well suited for the dangerous end of a Game Changer. The NS 172, SA 274 and the XO 774 are the most popular because of the short shank, nice deep hook gape and of course excellent hooking capabilities.
If you’re in the mood for some inspiration, I highly recommend Choklett’s book, maybe for the Christmas wish list? And before you overflow HQ with questions on when we’re releasing shanks, they’re not in the immediate future.