What to call this series did not come to me easily. Tying
Atlantic Salmon Flies was begun in Scotland, England and,
Ireland and, a few other European countries many years ago
and, many of the standards and traditions were established
there as well. I wanted to connect with what has gone
before. So, after pondering my dilemma, I decided to "borrow"
the title of a book written by T. E. Pryce-Tannatt, published
Mr. Tannatt was very much of a traditionalist in his tying
as were most of his contemporaries. What he described in
his smallish book is still relevant to our tying today. The
same basic rules governing style, proportion and, methods
are still used by Tyers of the often elegant creations of
fur and feather. Even Tyers who tie what I refer to as
"Free Style" Atlantic Salmon Flies incorporate hints of
the tradition that has gone before.
We in America embraced many of the flies of old but, in
our never ending quest to tinker and modify everything,
the styles of many of the old patterns changed somewhat.
To those who are locked in tradition many of the changes
were/are blasphemous. I can accept that but, as one who
has the need to think "outside the box," I embrace, encourage
and, applaud innovation and change. We will try to present
you a balanced mix of both the old and, new. It is up to
the reader to accept or reject what is presented. I hope
you will like what we have put together and, it will make
a difference in the way you look at the tying craft. Please
also understand that this is a "work in progress." I will
be adding to all facets of this series as new material is
Atlantic Salmon flies encompass many styles and types. To
some, they mean hair wing flies, bombers and assorted heavily
hackled Wulffs. To others, the name brings to mind the gaudy
fully dressed flies of the Victorian era in England, Scotland
and Ireland 100 years or so ago. Others think of
Speys and Dees.
The fully dressed Atlantic Salmon flies are arguably the most
outrageous and beautiful flies of the tying craft. They also
are perhaps the most intimidating flies to contemplate trying
to tie due to their complexity. Another factor that might keep
Tyers from tying the Classic Atlantic Salmon Flies is the
potential cost of the traditional materials.
In this series, I hope to demystify these flies and encourage
you to give them a try. We will attempt to take you through
all the styles and show you techniques I have found work
for me. I will also suggest alternate ways to tie the flies
that yield the same or, similar results. In addition, I will
give you suggestions for and, sources of materials, tools that
are of special use for this type of tying, sources of additional
reading and, examples of flies from other Tyers.
One of the first things I want to stress is that there are
no rules to tying these flies that can't be broken. There
are some characteristics of the styles that we Tyers need
to keep in mind while we construct our flies and they are
pretty simple and straightforward. First is neatness in the
flies. For the fully dressed flies which are usually tied
for display rather than fishing, frayed floss, uneven bodies,
crooked ribbing, chipped feathers and rough heads, will ruin
an otherwise beautiful fly. It doesn't hurt to try for perfection
in all of our tying even though not many of us will attain it.
I know I have never tied a perfect fly and, doubt I ever will.
Just tie to the best of your abilities and, you
will be fine. The real intent is to have fun tying and, that
is the second thing to keep in mind.
Third, the single thing that will help you produce great
looking and fish catching flies is. . .practice, practice
and more practice. I know you have heard that before but,
with the case of the fully dressed flies, it is perhaps more
true than with any other type of tying. We are trying to make
feathers in particular, do things that is contrary to their
structures and, there are little tricks, twists and tweaks
that will let you do that. I will do my best to describe
visually and verbally these things but, some will only be
learned by trying or watching them be done. Many of these
little tricks are done by experienced Tyers almost on an
unconscious level after years of tying and as such aren't
usually included in the text of the various books. Every
book however, will have nuggets of these little tricks.
I encourage you to search out every book on tying Atlantic
Salmon flies you can. Knowledge is power and, in this case,
knowledge will allow you to develop your own style of tying.
What works for one Tyer may not work for another. Since the
flies tied in most, if not all of the lessons will be done
by me, my techniques and material suggestions may rub some
of the more traditional Tyers the wrong way. I employ
traditional techniques, materials and, tools where they
fit my tying style. I have chosen patterns for the step
series that will introduce you to various techniques.
Where we have covered techniques in detail when they are
first introduced, later lessons will not focus on those
details. As we know, there are countless variations of
any given pattern limited only by the number of Tyers who
tinker away in their tying rooms. Some patterns I show may
not be the variation you are familiar with so, you can adjust
them to suit your needs and likes. I have made the assumption
that a Tyer embarking on this style of tying will have had
some experience in tying some other type of tying like Trout
or Bass flies. If you have not tied before, I suggest starting
out on the series that
Al Campbell has presented in great detail on this site. Many
of the things he covers there can help you with on this series.
Finally, even though I compiled and presented the following
information with the help and, encouragement of friends and
FAOL, this is your series. If there are omissions, things
that you would like to see covered or, errors, please let
me or FAOL know so we can meet your needs.
Now, come with me on a journey into the creative world of
Atlantic Salmon and Steelhead Flies.
Happy Trails! ~ Ronn Lucas, Sr.
Next time, Materials.
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