Introduction

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 in 1914.

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 developed.

What's Coming

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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