Dangerous Path

Dangerous Path

Viking Lars | Saturday, 2 January 2021

I’m heading down a dangerous path - I’ve dived into classic salmon flies. I’ve been slowly learning some of the techniques from a good friend. Fly tying is fly tying you might say, and you are right, but if you want the wing of a classic salmon fly, say a Silver Doctor, to sit right, you need to learn some techniques. The same wing the tricky, low set mallard wings typical of the spey flies or the also low set wings of the Dee-flies.

It’s time consuming, that’s one thing. It’s also a little obsessing, that’s another thing - both of which I quite enjoy. Some of the old flies I’ll quite enjoy fishing. The Spey- and Dee patterns for instance, because they are excellent fishing flies and they are less time consuming than the big, married wings patterns like Mar Lodges, Green Highlanders, Silver Doctors etc. A perfect one of those would take me hours to tie, and quite possibly two-three attempts before I get an acceptable wing. But I love being able to dive into it - it's soothing and mind comforting in a wat that is only matched by fishing.

And that costs materials. I’m never going down the path of chasing down the original materials for these flies. They are incredibly expensive, some traded illegally, many thankfully also traded legally, and more than anything rare and hard to find. And there are so many fine substitutes that produces and equally beautiful result and it’s as much the fly tying techniques I’m interested in. Because make no mistake - learning to tie these flies makes you a better fly tier, no matter what you’re tying. In fact I’m sure this might be my last step on the path to reach the level required to tie the perfect Royal Fuckup :-).

One path to take if you’re interested in getting in to these beautiful flies, carrying so much history, is to dive into the Dee- and Spey flies. They are typically simpler flies tied with simpler, more readily available and cheaper materials (they were invented in Scotland). Patterns like the Ackroyd, Glentana, Lady Caroline, Grey Heron etc - none of these needs overly expensive materials, but do require some learning.

Or the low water flies. I have really come to appreciate the loe water flies, the patterns and their construction. Not that they’re that much easier to tie, but their simplicity and beauty holds a charm of it’s own. And they are a striking counterpart to the complex and difficult flies like a Jock Scott or Black Doctor. And the have an intrinsic practicality about them. The Dee is known as a river where small flies are often very effective. Now we’d fish a small tube fly with a modern, small tube fly hook with an appropriate tube fly hook to optimise hook ups. There were plenty of small hooks in the late 1800s, but they were made for trout fishing and I doubt they’d be able to hold a salmon. So the fly fishers of the day simply resorted to tying a size 8 fly on a size 4 hook. Problem solved.

The PoD is of a Logie, a simple and beautiful low water fly, reputed to be particularly effective on the Dee and this is a patterns and a fly that I’ll definitely fish next time I’m on the Dee and conditions are right. It’s not perfect - the tail is too long - tail and point of wing should meet, but it’s my second attempt. The next few will improve and then eventually I’ll be satisfied with them. And then I’ll tie a batch for fishing. The fly is tied "short" on a #4 Ahrex HR410.