I've loved Spey- and Dee-flies ever since I began flyfishing and flytying. The sleek profiles, the long, flowing hackles and the low set wings just appeal to me. And it's a good way of getting into tying classic salmon flies. I know these are not "full dressed" as for instance a classic Jock Scott which has, I think, 23 different materials in it (more or less). And many of these are from protected species and if you can find them legally, they cost about the same as a Hot Torpedo. Even the substutues are expensive as some are man-made and very time consuming to get right.
The Spey- and Dee-flies are simpler with fewer different materials where most are more or less common. A few materials might be hard to get - white turkey in the proper quality for instance. If you can find it, it's pricey, but not over the top. Heron hackles are rare to find in stores in good quality, but at least here in Denmark, fish farmers are alloweed to shoot them, so you can sometimes get your hand on a bord there and pluck the suited hackles. Dyeing them is not that hard. Other than that, mahy are tied with cock hackles, seals' fur, silks, standard ribbing materials etc. A few require special-very-hard-to-get materials, like kite feathers for wings and such, but substitutes are available.
The hard part in these flies are the wings. I've written about my exploits in to the low set Spey wings made from mallard flank, which are notorioulsy hard to get right (unless you're Davie McPhail who just throws them on and somehow gets them perfect). There are a few tricks that make it easier and once you know them, it's a simple matter of practice.
I've now set my mind on tying a few perfect Dee-flies. Dee-flies sport strip-wings, often of turkey but there are others as well. So I began by visiting my friend, Jens Pilgaard, who's tied classics for many, many years to an international standard (he has the diplomas to prove it) and he gave me a few pointers on getting the strip wings right. In many ways the technique is similar to that of the mallard wings.
Whether you prefer the flat-flat or semi-flat/semi-roof-domed is a matter of taste (although there might be "rules" I don't know of yet), but I prefer the latter. I think it looks better on a display fly, so that's what I'm trying to achieve. I chose to start with the Ackroyd as tied by Ackroyd (there are several versions), because it's probably the most iconic of the Dee strip wings, and to be honest, only the wing is th really hard part.
So - as you can see on the image, I'm getting there, although I'm not satisfied yet. But that's the whole point - in tying, casting, fishing... Setting a new goal and reaching it to an acceptable standard. And I will be fishing these - no doubt. The fly in the picture is a "small" 2/0. A big challenge in these flies is getting hooks that are large enough to suit the long heron hackles.
So an Ackroyd by Ackroyd is my New Year's greeting to you all, and also my NY-resolution - to get one right, just right, and then tie 10 of then and move on to something else :-).
Have a great weekend - and a great Year - see you in 2017!