I tied this fly in hand about a month ago but hadn’t got a chance to photograph it earlier. I think it’s a fine looking salmon fly pattern that’s rarely used today. Even the color combination is a bit odd when you compare it to modern salmon flies but I can’t see why it wouldn’t work just as good. The blue I used is maybe a bit too “royal” for a classic pattern but that was the best dark blue I had because I wanted to have the dubbing and hackle the same color and don’t have hackles to match my more periodically correct dark blue dubbings.
I tied the whole wing in together, both sides and all of the strips including the Mallard. Just stacked them over each other and moistened the tying point before mounting. Worked out all right, maybe I would’ve wanted the wing to fan out slightly more but on the other hand I like the streamlined look. After the wing I freaked out because I noticed I had to do a collar after the wing and wasn’t prepared for it. Forgot to put the horns in the middle because of the shock :)
Here’s the pattern from Frederik Tolfrey’s Jones’s Guide to Norway
Tail: Golden Pheasant.
Tip: Gold twist, orange silk and black Ostrich.
Body: Dark-blue Pig’s wool.
Ribbed: Silver tinsel and gold twist.
Throat: Orange hackle.
Wing: (Mixed) Mallard, Teal, Bustard, Golden Pheasant tail and Peacock. Blue hackle over all.
Horns: Blue and Red Macaw.
I haven’t seen anyone tie up this pattern even though it’s one of the featured patterns in both Kelson’s The Salmon Fly and in his Land & Water plates. Maybe it’s because of the unusual wash-leather in the body. Kelson also refers to two variations that use dyed silkworm gut in yellow and orange for the body. Might give those a shot one day too.
Grubs in general are pretty underrated these days. They’re easy to tie and seem to fish well so I don’t see any reason why they should vanish into the history. Well maybe if you’re planning on fishing this particular grub substitute the indian crow feather for something more readily available.
I tied this in hand at a gathering of friends and one of them brought some wash-leather for us to use. It was a bit thick and I had to try cutting it slimmer which made for a not as smooth body. Lately when tying nymphs for trout fishing I came familiar with Ultrasuede Skin Strips from Hareline which seems to be the same stuff but much thinner and comes in a variety of colors. I’m planning on trying it on other flies as well as it gives a unique texture to the fly and nice natural look.
Tag: Oval gold
Tail: Indian crow
Butt: Black Ostrich herl
Finnish National fly tying competition
Over the years I’ve got a lot of questions what kind of competition the nationals here are. To put it simply it’s a two day fly tying event where you tie flies in 4 hours each day and then the flies are judged anonymously by a panel of four judges. Even though the competition is well respected and when the tying is on everyone gives their best the most important part for me and many others is to once in a year meet with most of the best tyers in the country and share a pint or two while talking about flies and fishing.
There are two competitions, salmon flies on Sunday and all the other flies on Saturday. There’s also two categories for younger tyers under 16 and 18 on Saturday. On this article I’m going to focus on the salmon fly comp. from couple months ago. The photos are from a magazine that featured the results and my flies tied at the competition. It was my first gold in the salmon fly category as I’ve been too familiar with the silver medal in the past.
Tyers don’t know beforehand what flies they are going to tie and all materials are provided by the organizers to make the starting point equal. There are two 2 hour long sequences with a 1 hour break in between. You have to tie the flies in given order and you only get materials for one fly at a time so you can’t prepare for the next fly before the current one is finished. When finished flies are put in to plastic containers that are tagged with numbers so that the judges don’t know whose flies they are looking at.
First 2 hour sequence this year consisted of Lawson, Majuri Wiik Special and Dunt. Lawson is a pretty simple hair winged salmon fly that has both tail and wing made from fox fur. I just tried to get it over with as fast as I could and to get proportions right as I knew there wasn’t going to be huge differences made on this pattern. Important part is to make the tail and wing to a teardrop shape and to use the correct amount of fur on the wing and tail.
Majuri Wiik Special is a classic Finnish salmon fly. Nothing fancy here either but getting a neat butt from ostrich and peacock tied in together can be challenging. Also the ringneck pheasant tail can be tricky to get to behave when mounting the wing but the underwing helps a lot.
Dunt as seen on my earlier post is a traditional Dee fly and is pretty typical example of one. Main issue for me was the jungle cock substitute where we had Pro Sportfishers jungle cock substitutes that work well on tubeflies and even on featherwing salmonflies but were pretty thick when mounted on a dee fly. They were difficult to position symmetrically underneath the hook and resulted in a headshape that was far from ideal but the materials were the same for everyone so that wasn’t an issue regarding the competition.
Second sequence had only two flies but they were a bit more complex to tie. First was Osku Rönkä No.1 which is a traditional Finnish salmon fly. These have usually low and long profile with a tail twice as long as the hook gape. Body is fairly complex and in a pressure situation easy to make mistakes on. I chose too long hackle for the first joint to my liking but the judges didn’t seem to mind. The wings are hard to set low against the hook and you must build a good foundations for the wing. I tied the wing in strips but after the competition thought that I should’ve tied it in strands for a better look.
Last fly was Colonel Bates. Salmon fly version of the Carrie Stevens pattern that was made by Jimmy Younger in 1969. Tinsel body is always difficult when you are in a hurry as the underbody has to be smooth. The wing also has quite a few components which have to be planned pretty carefully to get good proportions. And last but not least when there’s couple minutes left on the clock there’s nothing better to try doing a neat head with a red band. Well maybe trying to get horns on when your hands are shaking like crazy.
Here’s the patterns if you want to try it out. It’s a nice challenge and a good exercise in speed for me at least. The heads aren’t usually varnished on the competition but left as is. You can use varnish if you want but when in a hurry you will usually get cleaner results without it.
Hook: Partridge Salar double #3
Tag: Oval gold and fl. red floss
Tail: Black fox
Body: 1/2 Oval Gold, 1/2 black floss
Rib: Oval gold over the black floss
Bodyhackle: Orange over the black floss
Wing: Black fox
Majuri Wiik Special
Hook: Partridge Single Wilson #4
Tail: Golden pheasant crest and tip of a blue cock
Butt: Peacock and light ostrich herl wound together
Bodyhackle: Yellow for the whole body
Rib: Oval gold
Body: Light yellow floss
Underwing: Two yellow cock feathers tied back to back
Wing: Female pheasant tail with golden pheasant crest over
Cheeks: Tip of a blue cock feather
Hook: TG 2/0
Tag: Oval silver and light blue floss
Tail: Golden pheasant crest and teal
Ribs:Oval silver and flat silver
Body: 1/3 yellow floss, 1/3 orange seals fur and 1/3 claret seals fur
Bodyhackle: Black heron or blue eared pheasant
Wing: Whit tipped turkey. Jungle cock(substitute) feathers drooping underneath the shank
Osku Rönkä No.1
Hook: Low water single #2/0
Tag: Oval silver
Tail: Golden pheasant crest and tippet strands
1st body: Short section of red floss with thin silver rib. Embossed silver tinsel to the middle of the hook ribbed with oval silver tinsel
Butt: Brown hackle and black ostrich herl
Bodyhackle: Brown over the front body
2nd body: Black floss ribbed with oval silver
Hackle: Guinea fowl
Wing: Brown mottled turkey and golden pheasant tail
Tag: Oval silver and light yellow floss
Tail: Golden pheasant crest, red goose and kingfisher
Butt: Red wool
Rib: Oval silver
Body: Flat silver tinsel
Hackle: Brown cock and guinea fowl over it
Underwing: 4 yellow cock feathers back to back. Over these with cock feathers halfway in the wing
Wing: Strip of red, yellow and red goose. Summer duck. Golden pheasant crest over
Cheeks: Jungle cock(substitute) and kingfisher
Head: Black with a red stripe in the middle
*we used blue hackle tips in place of kingfisher
Dunt on the cover
I was pretty surprised to see my fly on the cover of Finnish fly fishing magazine Perhokalastus. The fly was tied last fall at the Finnish national fly tying competition and it was judged as the best classic fly of the competition. I’ll write more about the contest later this week.
I also added couple photos of a Dunt from my fly box with a closeup on the wing tie in point. Tying Dee wings is not as hard as many think but they do require some patience and a bit different approach. You must play with the angle of your thread when you tighten the wing so that the pressure will come parallel to the feather strip. One of the key things is that the wings should not overlap but be side by side on the top of the hook. You can tie the wings a bit on the sides of the hook if you prefer that look or straight on top for a perfectly vertical wing. Doesn’t really matter as long as you tie them symmetrically
Make sure that you have perfectly matched wings to begin with. It’s not enough that the pattern and color match but most importantly the strips should be the same size. If the base of the slips where you tie them on isn’t equally thick you will not have symmetrical wings. Other important factor is the platform where you mount the wings. You want it perfectly flat and high enough so that the hackle behind the wings doesn’t kick the wings up.
Here’s one of the many patterns for it, this time from Kelson’s The Salmon Fly.
Tag: Silver twist and light blue silk.
Tail: A topping and teal.
Body: Yellow, orange, red-claret seal’s fur, in equal sections.
Ribs: Silver lace and silver tinsel.
Hackle: Black heron, from claret fur.
Wings: Two strips of plain brown turkey with black bars and white tips.
Sides: Jungle, short and drooping over throat hackle.
Black & Orange GP Intruder
Here’s something new for myself. I haven’t tied many intruders but it’s a style I have been wanting to try out for a long time. I like the sparse mobile action many of these flies have and think there’s plenty of room for experiment and innovation. They are also fairly simple to tie and this one is no exception even though it has many steps in it. You could do it a lot simpler with only a little difference to the end result but I enjoyed adding subtle touches to the pattern.
I’m a big fan of Esmond Drury’s General Practitioner salmon fly and especially the version made famous here in Finland by Miki Äikäs which you can find on his site. There’s also a youtube link to a video where Miki ties one of his GP’s. This fly is sort of a tribute to the original but I wanted to tie a fairly dark version of it with only a subtle hint of orange in the key areas. Another big inspiration for this fly is one GP variant I got from Mikael Lindström that has an ever darker color scheme than mine. It’s a beautiful fly and I’m happy to have it in my collection.
Feel free to experiment with this concept and let me know if it hooks you some fish.
Shank: Waddington 45mm
Dubbing: Salar Synthetic Series midnight black and orange in flames, mixed. First a ball of dubbing to lift the hackle and then two equal body sections brushed out well.
Rib: Oval silver tinsel.
Hacles: Ringneck Pheasant rump feathers dyed black and natural brown Pond Heron feathers dyed orange. Three hackles, first in the back then middle and in the front.
Back: Ringneck Pheasant rump feathers dyed black over each hackle. Largest on the back and two feathers in front instead of one. Thin bunch of Black Bear tied in the middle joint before the eyes and back.
Eyes: Golden Pheasant tippet dyed hot orange. Tip cut off to make V-shape and then the feather is lacquered to keep the sides separated. Tied in the middle of the body below the middle pheasant feather.
One of the easier featherwing flies perfect for practice when you’re starting out and just as good when you’ve gained more experience in these classic salmon flies.
I put the grey Mallard on sides even though it’s listed in the pattern before the main wing. Next time I’ll probably put it under the wing to show more of the main wing or tie it shorter and the bronze Mallard longer so that the shorter materials wouldn’t line up that much on the finished fly.
Here’s the pattern and note from George Kelson’s "The Salmon Fly"
Tag. Silver twist and light yellow silk.
Tail. A topping.
Butt. Black herl.
Body. Two turns of crimson silk, and crimson Seal’s fur.
Ribs. Silver tinsel (oval).
Hackle. Crimson, from second turn.
Throat. Light yellow hackle.
Wings. (Thin) Grey Mallard, and tippet strands, Bustard, Golden Pheasant tail, Swan dyed light yellow, crimson and light blue; Mallard and a topping.
Horns. Blue Macaw
One of the best flies on the Tyne.
Tied pretty much after a vintage one in Terry Griffiths’ great new book “The Essential Kelson” which features Kelson’s patterns from his books and Land and Water cards. There are also good notes on fly tying techniques and material selection from Kelson explained by Marvin Nolte. Recommended purchase for everyone.
I have never liked Namsen as a pattern but that vintage fly had me in love at the first sight. Maybe it was the not so usual wing without any dyed fibers in it. Tied every strip on top oh each other individually as a build wing and brushed them a bit to mix them. One thing you have to remember is to taper the body down in front, try to make a neat hackle and build a foundation of thread after it to form a good base for the wing. If the foundation is not level with the body/hackle the wing will kick up.
Tag. Oval silver tinsel.
Tail. Golden Pheasant crest and Wood duck.
Rib. Oval silver tinsel.
Body. Seals fur in equal portions; yellow, orange, claret and blue.
Wing. Mottled Turkey, Bustard and Golden Pheasant tail.
Horns. Blue Macaw.
Head. Black wool.
This is Kelson’s version of the standard classic which he attributes to Grant. It’s a bit simpler pattern than most as it doesn’t have sides or cheeks but it will show every mistake when tied as a married wing. I added a close up photo of the wing tie in point that lets you see it in detail. As you can notice I struggled to find golden pheasant long enough for the top strip and it’s tied straight from the base of the fibers.
I still think it’s probably the best Green Highlander pattern for beginners if you substitute the light and dark bustard with other brownish feathers. Especially nice tied with a mixed wing and smaller sizes as it probably was meant in the first place.
Green Highlander (Kelson - The Salmon Fly 1895)
Tag. Silver twist and canary silk.
Tail. A topping and Teal.
Butt. Black herl.
Body. Two turns of yellow silk and green Seal’s fur.
Ribs. Silver tinsel.
Hackle. Green from yellow silk.
Throat. A yellow hackle.
Wings. Two tippets (back to back) veiled with light and dark Bustard, Golden Pheasant tail, dark mottled Turkey, Swan dyed green, Mallard and a topping.
Horns. Blue Macaw.
The Grey Eagle
Another one from the fishing box of classics. This is probably my favorite variation of a Grey Eagle as it’s dead simple, has nice colors and is one of the oldest variations of the pattern. The fly is from the Fishing Gazzette 1884, 23rd of February issue.
I’d usually add a counterrib or tie the flat rib over the hackle as a counterrib to protect the hackle stem but on this fly I wanted to follow the pattern closely. Also use Turkey marabou instead of Eagle as it’s protected pretty much everywhere. The thicker the fibers the better and the best feathers are found near the tail of the bird for this purpose. If you don’t have access to them there are couple stores specialized in classics that offer Eagle substitute which is exactly those marabou feathers usually with a nice tip-dye like in the ones I’ve used.
If you are interested in more variations of these flies check out Colin Innes’s site Feathers Flies and Phantoms. It’s a great source and has some beautiful vintage examples of many patterns.
WM - 23rd Feb, 1884, “The Dee Aberdeenshire Flies (2nd Article)”, Fishing Gazette.
Tag: Silver tinsel.
Tail: Golden pheasant rump feather.
Body: Black mohair well picked out.
Ribbing: Broad silver tinsel.
Hackle: Grey eagle.
Wing: Mottled turkey wing, brownish tinge.
On the article the Grey Eagle is noted to be best suited for the cloudy evening sky on the Aberdeenshire Dee.
Another staple classic that has appeared in one form or another in most of the books that are considered classic today. The shot is from a fly that I tied some years ago for fishing on an old Partridge M 5/0 hook. I have to note that the GP underwing is easier to tie in if you select smaller feathers. The rachis changes shape towards the tip and becomes very hard to tie in if you use a large pair and strip the lower fibers off.
Here’s the pattern and notes from Kelson’s The Salmon Fly
Tag. Silver twist and yellow silk.
Tail. Topping, Teal and powdered blue Macaw.
Butt. Black herl.
Body. In four equal divisions of Seal’s fur, light red-claret, light blue, dark red-claret and dark blue respectively.
Ribs. Silver tinsel (preceded on large hooks by silver lace).
Hackle. A natural black, from light red-claret Seal’s fur.
Throat. A yellow hackle and Gallina.
Wings. A tippet and breast feather of the Golden Pheasant (back to back) veiled with Teal, Golden Pheasant tail, Gallina, Bustard, and Peacock wing; strands of Parrot and Swan dyed yellow; and Mallard.
Horns. Blue Macaw.
Head. Black herl.
This old standard is used everywhere. For my own worl I always add a topping to the wing.