As my friends know I’m not a big fan of the modern popular color combo yellow, orange, red, fiery brown and black on salmon flies. There are a few exceptions though where the combination isn’t as obvious and when used with muted colors can look quite pleasing. Thistle is one of those simple gorgeous classic salmon fly patterns that play with those typical colors and somehow gets away with it while being unique. With those double crests and mobile builtwing I’m sure it would work well on any of the rivers where it’s modern counterparts prove their worth every season.
The pattern itself is pretty simple but if tied like I did has one of the most difficult tail setups. Four delicate stems tied straight on top of each other without even an ostrich herl butt to cover things up. I’m pretty sure this is not how it was originally tied but I wanted to do it like in the description just to see how it would look and if it would be even possible to do it in relatively short time. It took awhile but with the help of good wax and patience I managed to tie them in straight on top.
Here’s the pattern as featured in George Kelson’s The Salmon Fly
THE THISTLE. G.S.
TAG. Gold twist and light yellow silk.
TAIL. Two toppings, with Indian Crow above and below.
BODY. Light fiery-brown and black pigs wool in equal divisions.
RIBS. Gold tinsel (flat).
HACKLE. Black, from second turn.
WINGS. Teal, dark Bustard, fibres of Golden Pheasant breast, and of
Amherst Pheasant ; Mallard and a topping.
HORNS. Red, and blue Macaw.
HEAD. Black herl