Salmon Flies

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Background to Atlantic Salmon Flies

Although salmon fly fishing was fairly widely practised in Scotland as early as the eighteenth century, it was not until the nineteenth century that the development of the Salmon fly really took off. The art of the salmon fly dresser reached its height in the Victorian era, when the earlier rather drab Scottish fly patterns of William Scrope (e.g. Meg in her Braws, Kinmont Willie) were supplanted by a flood of highly complex and exotic creations (Jock Scott, Silver Doctor, Dusty Miller, Mar Lodge). The popularity of these gaudy patterns continued into the twentieth century when they were gradually modified, simplified and supplemented by more sensible salmon flies. First the low water style of fly dressing was applied to earlier patterns (Logie, Jeannie, Blue Charm). Then, particularly from the 1950's, began the development of the modern hairwing salmon fly (Hairy Mary, Garry, Stoat's Tail, Munro's Killer), which we know so well today. Recent years have seen wide ranging developments in salmon fly design, including the slim stainless needle tubes developed by Grays of Kilsyth.  For photographs of traditional fully dressed Scottish salmon flies, see The Salmon Fly

Salmon Fly Development

Recent years have seen the development of many and varied innovative salmon fly designs. Today's salmon fly fisherman has a great many weapons in his armoury, ranging from simple single, double or treble hooks, short or long in the shank, barbed or barbless; snakes and needle flies; coneheads, bottle tubes and turbo discs. The tube fly has long been a favourite of many fly tyers, available in a variety of materials, such as plastic, aluminium, copper and brass, allowing flytyers to make tube flies in a useful range of lengths and weights to suit most river conditions. Another great advantage of the tube fly is its durability, as the hook, whether single, double or treble, can be easily replaced when damaged. A new range of ultra slim tubes have been developed in Scotland by Grays of Kilsyth. These very fine, plastic lined, needle tubes, made from high quality stainless steel tubing, as used in hypodermic needles, allow the salmon fly tyer to make extremely slim salmon tube flies.

 
 

 

HMH Tube Fly Tool

 

 

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Fly Fishing Knots

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Tube Flies

The Tube Fly Shop

Salmon Recipes

 
 
 
 Slim stainless steel salmon and sea trout flies

 

Salmon Fly Articles

I list below a few articles relating to Salmon Flies, particularly salmon fly tying and salmon fly fishing, mainly in Scotland.

Salmon Flies
Tube Flies
Salmon Needle Tube Flies
Sea Trout Needle Tube Flies
Needle Tube Fly Fishing
Tying the Cascade Salmon Fly
The Stoat's Tail Salmon Fly
Black & Yellow Salmon Tube Fly
Tying the Magus Salmon Fly
Scottish Shrimp Salmon Flies
The Spinhead
Wee Monkey Tube Flies
Cascade Needle Tube
Needle Tube Shrimp
Micro Tube Flies
Salmon Tube Flies
Linked Tube Flies
Bead Tube Flies
Fishing the Flug
The Needle Shrimp
Needle Tube Flies
Steelies for Steelies
Cascade Tube Flies
Steelhead Needle Tubes
Tube Fly Vise
Blackback Tube Flies
Salmon Fly Hooks
Needle Tube or Waddington
Fiery Cascade Tube Fly
Black & Silver Tube Fly
Irish Shrimp Tube Fly
Spring Tube Flies
Salmon Needle Fly
The Willie Gunn Tube Fly
Trout Fly Tying
Salmon Fly Tying
Sea Trout Fly Tying
Upside Down Flies
The Magus Shrimp Tube Fly
The Dusty Miller Tube Fly
The Spring Green Tube Fly
The Ruddy Buck Tube Fly
Beltra Badger Tube Fly
MiniTube Flies
Summer Shrimp Flies
Snaky Tube Fly
Night Tube Fly

Scottish Salmon Flies

Salmon Fly Selection

Salmon Flies

Boxed Scottish salmon fly selections from Grays of Kilsyth

 

Salmon Flies

 

Blackback Salmon Tube Flies

 

Traditional Scottish Salmon Flies

 

Salmon Tube Flies

 

 

Traditional Scottish Salmon Flies

I list below just a small selection of some of the most renowned traditional Scottish salmon flies, spanning more than a century of Scottish salmon fly fishing.

    Logie

Salmon fly - Logie One of our most successful low water patterns, sparsely dressed in the style of A.H.E.Wood, tenant of Cairnton on the Aberdeenshire Dee from 1913 to 1934, during which time he killed 3,490 salmon, most of them on the greased line. The Logie was also a favourite salmon fly of Frederick Hill who, during the nineteen forties, was gillie to Captain H.T. Musker at Carlogie, another good low water beat on the Dee. In "Salmon Fishing", 1948, he wrote, "From the beginning of April onwards, the Logie is one of our most deadly flies." The tying shown is the generally accepted dressing and Hill's preference for early season, fished on a size 4 hook. Tied on a size 1 hook, it was his favourite for high and coloured water.

   Jeannie

Salmon fly - Jeannie The Jeannie is another low water salmon fly, whose popularity, like that of the Logie, Blue Charm and Silver Blue, has spread far beyond the Dee, where it originated. Another of Frederick Hill's favourites for the early season, again fished on a size 4 hook.

 

  Munro's Killer

Salmon fly - Munro's Killer Originating on the Spey, Munro's Killer is a widely known and enormously successful salmon fly. A modern hairwing dressing named after J.A.J. Munro, who for many years operated a fishing tackle shop in Aberlour.

  Jock Scott

Salmon fly - Jock Scott

The most famous of all salmon flies, created in 1845 by Jock Scott, (born in 1817 at Brankholme) who, for twenty five years, served as Fisherman to Lord John Scott of Kirkbank on Tweed.  A successful fly, not only in Scotland but also in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in Canada, in Spain, Iceland, Finland and Norway. Indeed it was on a voyage to Norway that the first Jock Scott was tied. Sir Edward Grey, in "Fly Fishing", said of the Jock Scott, "the best all round fly, excellent for all seasons, weathers and waters in Great Britain, and to be used of all sizes. I believe the Jock Scott to be the best blend of colour that has ever been invented for a salmon fly." High praise indeed.

  Stoat's Tail

Salmon fly - Stoat's Tail In the words of Hugh Falkus, "Of all hair-wing salmon flies for late spring and summer fishing with floating line, the simple Stoat's Tail is one of the best we have." This fly has been around for a long time and has in all probability accounted for more salmon than any other fly, particularly if we take into account its many variants. Some have an orange hackle, as in the Thunder Stoat and Stinchar Stoat; some a touch of blue, as in the Sweep; Others sport a tinsel body, as in the Silver Stoat and Black Brahan. All can be relied on in a wide variety of conditions and most salmon fly boxes would contain one or two variants, according to preference and experience.

  Silver Doctor

Salmon fly - Silver Doctor The Silver Doctor is a very attractive salmon fly, in common use from the mid nineteenth century on the Tweed and other border rivers. Attributed to James Wright, of Sprouston, though some believe it may have originated in Ireland, together with other brightly coloured patterns of the time. Whatever their origin, the popularity of such gaudy flies grew and they soon ousted the rather drab Scottish creations previously in vogue. As a hairwing pattern it is extremely effective and, a century and a half after its creation, it retains its well-deserved place in many a fly box.

  Hairy Mary

Salmon fly - Hairy Mary The Hairy Mary is one of the earliest hairwing patterns, dating back to around 1950, when it was in use on northern rivers such as the Ness and Conon. Its design is attributed to Johnny Reidpath, an Inverness tackle merchant. In its simplicity, this fly is in marked contrast to the highly complex creations of the previous century, yet no less effective in luring salmon.

 

  Garry

Salmon fly - Garry Known also as the Garry Dog, Yellow Dog or Minister's Dog, the name originated in a Tweed tackle shop of the 1920's, where a visiting minister contributed some hair from the tail of his dog, a golden retriever named Garry, to aid the completion of a fly under construction on the premises. While yellow bucktail or similar hair is now substituted for the dog's hair, the Garry remains an excellent salmon fly pattern for coloured water, particularly in the autumn.

see also Salmon Flies

 

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