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.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Modern Spey fly - The Cockroach Spey

What inspired me to tie this was a style of winging I found in John Shewey’s book, “Spey Flies and Dee Flies, Their History and Construction.”  Frank Amato Publications Inc, Portland OR. 2002.  It is a take off on a style I first encountered tying the Syd Glasso Spey-style flies and having the hoodie available, thanks to a friend, I decided to see what it would inspire. 

The pattern is as follows:
Hook: Partridge CS10/1
Body: 2/3 flat copper tinsel, 1/3 black seal
Rib: medium oval copper tinsel, cross rib with fine gold tinsel over the hackle
Hackle: Blue eared pheasant all the way up
Throat: 2 turns black and white spotted guinea
Wing: four hooded merganser flank feathers tented low and wide
Cheeks: jungle cock, short
Head: red

Why I called it the Cockroach I do not know except that it does look buggy and at the time I was tying up imitation cockroaches for a costume.  I present two views of it in order to show how the wings should look, and because I think the photograph turned out pretty neat.  I can see this one tied with real black heron.  It would look even better I think.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Spey fly - The Dallas fly

The Dallas Fly, so named for a Mr. John Dallas, the inventor, is a pretty typical Spey fly.  It has a short body composed of Berlin wool, multiple ribs, and a hackle composed of black Spey cock.  The wing however sets it apart from other more typical Spey flies in that it is composed of strips of cinnamon turkey tail rather then bronze or grey mallard.  It also has a woolen head rather then the minuscule plain black one of the other typical Spey flies.

Kelson writes, “This capital fly on the Spey was christened by Mr. Little Gilmore. Like other local patterns, the body is short and begins a full 1/8 of an inch in front of the point of the hook. The description given is from a pattern forwarded by Mr. C. M. Burn's “Fisherman at Pitcroy;” and proved to be correct by one being sent to me by Dallas himself.”

The pattern I am showing here is from George M. Kelson’s “The Salmon Fly” and goes as follows:
Body: three turns of yellow Berlin wool, followed by black wool
Ribs: silver tinsel, gold tinsel (orange, narrow), red thread and blue thread, all running in equal distance apart.
Hackle: a black Spey cocks from the end of the body, but wound the reverse way and so crossing over the ribs.
Throat: a red hackle from the golden pheasant
Wings: two strips of plain cinnamon turkey
Head: orange wool, picked out. 

Contrary to the above pattern, but in accordance with Kelson’s own principles of fly construction, I have tied this one with the hackle running with the ribs, except for the fine gold thread, which runs over and across the ribs and hackle, thus pinning them down and helping to protect the hackle.  I do not think Kelson would mind this slight alteration given the superiority of the construction compared to the original pattern.  I am sure the fish won’t mind.

The pattern found in Hardy corresponds exactly with the pattern above.  Hale does not mention it and superficial examination of Francis Francis does not reveal it either.  Knox does not list it either.  There is a nice photo in Bates's, “Fishing Atlantic Salmon, the Flies and the Patterns.”. 1996, page 202, plate 75 showing a variation, but not listing a pattern for it.  The one shown has a tail and topping of golden pheasant crest, and a collar in red cock by the look of it, with what looks like a silver body and black ostrich butt.  The hackle is long and black though, as expected of a Spey fly.  I can not tell what the wing is comprised of, but there does not appear to be any colour in it.

Mikael Frodin lists this pattern in his book “Classic Salmon Flies, History and Patterns.” 1991, but does not add much beyond what I have written here about the details of it.

I would be interested to get a pattern for the Bates variation, and any other variations of this fly.