Why are they Different?

The original Speys, Dees and Tays were distinguished mainly by the slender, long shanked hooks, the materials used in the construction of the body, hackle and the wing, and often by multiple flosses and tinsels used in complex ribbing patterns, as well as by the arrangement and alignment of the wings themselves. Of course there were exceptions to these criteria, but those came to be more in later flies, not the early ones. The main criteria I will introduce here in the introduction though is the wing arrangement and the long hackles. All of them were simple strip wings, to use Pryce-Tannatt's vernacular. The Speys however were winged with a pair of bronze mallard (usually) strips, humped low over the body, producing an effect like a "keelless racing-boat placed upside down." Dees usually had a narrow strip of cinnamon or white turkey, tied horizontally, splayed wide in a V, and Tays, the best way to describe them would be to send you over to http://nwflytyer.wordpress.com/ and look at Monte's rendition of the Black Dog.
Most of them used either herons hackle, tied as long as possible, or Spey cock hackle. These days heron has given way to smaller hooks and Blue eared pheasant as a sub, and Spey cock is now schlappen, our best guess at what Spey cock was back then. There was a certain group of Dees that even used eagle thigh feathers or marabou(from the marabou stork), neither of which we can use today at all. Fortunately, turkey thigh 'marabou' is indistinguishable apparently from the real thing, so we have that covered also.
I shall show examples of all of these styles, with exceptions eventually as time allows for tying, writing and posting.
For those readers wanting a complete, in-depth, up to date history with tying instructions, of the Spey flies, I urge you to visit the best site I have seen for this: http://nwflytyer.wordpress.com/tying-notes/an-introduction-to-spey-flies/ It has everything.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Spey Fly- The Davidson Spey

The Spey flies with their low slung wings of bronze mallard, and distinctive Spey cock hackles (usually, occasionally heron was used) were a group of flies often described as dowdy or dull.  That they retained a place in today's fly wallets, despite being nearly replaced over a century ago by the 'gaudy flies,' and being little remembered by the more modern masters (Knox lists 16 patterns for the Spey, who else since lists all 16, and how many others were there that didn't make it into text?) is interesting.   Peculiar to look at when compared to the gaudy flies, odd to tie, as often things are reversed from what was the usual pattern, and certainly not fancy, why have they been kept around?  Resembling a loose interpretation of a shrimp or prawn perhaps to a salmon, they are deadly.  When introduced to the Pacific Northwest steelhead, they were equally as lethal.  I introduce the Spey flies with my own pattern, the Davidson Spey

The Davidson Spey
There are several salmon flies listed by various authors named the Davidson, or the Davidson something or other.  This fly is not related to any of them.  This is my own creation, based on the colours of the Davidson tartan, and named in honour of a friend of mine, and the Davidson Clan to which she is related.

The Davidson Spey
Hook: Daiichi Alec Jackson Spey #1.5
Body: 3/5 dark green seal, 1/5 dark blue seal, 1/5 black seal
Ribbing: Broad flat silver, medium oval gold, with red floss over the flat silver.  Fine oval silver crossing the hackle
Hackle: oily black Spey cock, lemon wood duck at the shoulder
Wing: Bronze mallard with light grey roots

No comments:

Post a Comment