Northwest Fly Tyer

The fly tying pages of Monte Smith

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    • Blue Devil Variant tied by Davie McPhail
      Tied by: Davie McPhail Originated by: Carrie Stevens Hook: Partridge CS15 #2 Thread: 8/0 White (underbody) Tag: Silver flat braid Body:Black 6/0 (140d) Rib: Silver flat Tinsel Belly: White bucktail Underwing: Peacock herl Under-shoulder: Teal blue hackle fibers Throat: Teal blue hackle fibers Wing: 2 light olive hackles flanked by teal blue hackles Shoulder: […]
    • Blueback trout Thunder Creek Minnow
      The Thunder Creek series of flies was created by fisherman and commercial tyer Keith Fulsher of Eastchester, NY. The fly was developed because he felt the standard minnow tying method of a large thread head with painted eyes didn’t properly represent the naturals. Keith’s reverse tied bucktails added detail and allowed for a variety of ...Continue reading […]
    • John Gierach’s Little Brown Trout Bucktail
      “The solution to any problem — work, love, money, whatever — is to go fishing, and the worse the problem, the longer the trip should be.” -John Gierach John Gierach’s Little Brown Trout is a classic for both bass and trout anglers. The bucktail was developed alongside the Gierach Special bucktail. John originally tied this ...Continue reading
    • Book Alert – Herbert L. Welch: Black Ghosts and Art in a Maine Guide’s Wilderness
      The long-awaited book from authors Graydon Hilyard and Leslie Hilyard has been announced and is ready to hit shelves on December 1st, 2018. “Herbert L. Welch: Black Ghosts and Art in a Maine Guide’s Wilderness”, documents the infamous Maine outdoorsman and his many talents. In addition to boeing a talented fly tyer, Herbie is well-known ...Continue reading […]
    • Liggett Special Bucktail
      I first saw this fly pattern years ago while reading an article on GlobalFlyFisher written by Mike Martinek. Mike stated that he preferred to fish the Liggett Special over the Mickey Finn and claimed it as one of his all-time favorite bucktails. The bucktail was named for one Mr. Liggett, a Hathaway Shirt Co foreman. ...Continue reading
    • Martinek, Warner and Leight Flies on Auction
      This is another post for those of you hunting for some new streamers for your collection. We found a few nice specimens from Mike Martinek, Jim Warner, and Larry Leight. Larry Leight Streamer Flies Larry Leight West Trout Brook You can check out the rest of the streamers he has on offer here – Larry ...Continue reading

The Doc Spratley Spey

Posted by nwflytyer on January 15, 2017

One of my favorite stillwater patterns is the old Doc Spratley. Introduced to me in British Columbia some years ago, it is one of the very best searching patterns to be found on B.C. lakes.  Black, green and red are the popular body colors, and you can’t walk in a shop in the province without finding a bunch of Sprats. In larger sizes, it’s fished for steelhead.  

Tying some Green Butt Skunk Speys recently (similar body construction), I decided to tie a couple of the “Spey” versions of my old B.C.favorite:

General Recipe:

Hook:  Partridge 10/1 , #1 (as pictured)

Tag (optional):  Flat silver tinsel

Tail:  Guinea, real, or grizzly hackle fibers 

Rib:  Silver tinsel

Body:  Fluorescent green floss (optional) followed by black seal’s fur or similar 

Hackle:  Black (omitted on trout version)

Throat/Collar:  Guinea, teal, or grizzly hackle

Wing:  Ringneck pheasant tail fibers

Head:  Peacock herl

A peacock butt is a nice variation, and a few strands of peacock herl added to the wing can add a little color. 

Try ’em in trout sizes for your next northwest lake outing and fancy things up a bit if you want to swing one for steelhead. Enjoy!


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The Purple Haze

Posted by nwflytyer on January 8, 2017

Yes, I have joined the Tribe @ Postfly. Been having fun tying the monthly pattern…

December’s fly was a nifty little emerger pattern called the Purple Haze, not to be confused with the erstwhile Montana region dry fly of the same name.

Collecting my dozen creations…

The Purple Haze (Postfly version)

Hook: Light wire scud, #16-22

Thread: Black

Shuck: A couple of strands salmon pink or off red Krystal Flash

Abdomen: Blue Flashabou ribbed with a strand of black Flashabou

Thorax: UV Purple Ice Dub

Hackle: Grizzly

I wonder what’s inside this time?

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Classic Hook Guide

Posted by nwflytyer on November 26, 2015

When reading some of the classic works of the salmon fly authors, one will run into the Phillips scale (popular in Blacker’s time, for example). How do those sizes equate with modern sizes… what the heck size is a #7?! 

Fear no more. Here are the equivalencies from Farlow’s Hook Guide with the modern scale, the Phillips scale, and the length of hook following (do not include the eye when measuring hook length):

7/0   –   #1  (2 1/2″)

6/0   –   #2  (2 1/4″)

5/0   –   #3   (2″)

4/0   –   #4   (1 7/8″)

3/0   –   #5   (1 3/4″)

2/0   –   #6   (1 5/8″)

1/0   –   #7   (1 1/2″)

1 1/2 –   #8   (1 3/8″)

1   –   #9   (1 1/4″)

2   –   BB   (1 1/8″)

3   –   B   (1″)

4   –   CC   (15/16″)

5   –   C   (7/8″)

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

Today’s Claret Brown or in Praise of the Mustad-Chestertown Model 3298 Hook

Posted by nwflytyer on November 8, 2015

For those who know me or have followed this blog for some time, my latest version of the Claret Brown will come as no surprise:


The Latest Claret Brown

Yes, my love of this crazy, sleek hook continues. This is a size 6, and I’ve taken the sneck out of the bend. I also grind the tips to make them more receptive to a gut eye.

I’ve varied the pattern in a few ways: embossed silver tinsel rib, added the jungle cock sides, and made a fur head. I like wool/fur heads of some of the old classics, and I had planned to use orange on this a la the Dallas fly, but settled on black.

The hackle is schlappen, stripped on one side, and the wings are true cinnamon turkey. 

And here’s an orange head version. Somebody please stop me…

Previous Spey Plate flies that I worked up a Mustad-Chestertown version for my collection include The Pitcroy Fancy and the Dallas Fly:


Pitcroy Fancy


Dallas Fly

More fun on the Chestertown:


Double White-Wing Alkroyd


Featherwing streamers


Posted in Fly Patterns, Salmon Flies, Streamers, Tying Notes, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

The Stunner

Posted by nwflytyer on November 7, 2015

I’ve been wanting to tie this one for awhile and finally got to it this morning. It’s from Tolfrey’s classic Jones’ Guide to Norway. (1848) Here is the recipe (listed as Tolfrey did):

The Stunner

Tail: Golden Pheasant topping

Tip: Silver twist and Crimson silk

Body: Pale blue, yellow, claret, and dark blue Pig’s wool at the shoulder

Legs: Claret hackle 

Throat: Guinea-hen and blue hackle

Ribbed: Gold tinsel and silver twist

Wing: Two golden pheasant tippets, a little bustard and two golden toppings over all

Horns: Blue macaw

Head: Yellow mohair

Posted in Fly Patterns, Salmon Flies | 3 Comments »

The Claret Brown – Spey Plate Tying Fun

Posted by nwflytyer on November 2, 2015

I’ve been working on a few flies for my Spey Plate ’16 contribution. I usually tie multiple versions with material variations,  different hook sizes/styles, and perhaps a different tying method or two, and this year is no different. First, let’s re-state Kelson’s recipe with the note that in Salmon Flies, he mentioned using Crowned Pigeon as the body hackle (instead of heron):

The Claret Brown 
​Tail: ​A few fibers of yellow Macaw
Body: ​Three turns of orange Pig’s wool, followed by claret-brown Pig’s wool
Ribs: ​Silver tinsel
Hackle: ​Grey Heron from center
Throat: ​Gallina
Wings: ​Two strips of plain cinnamon Turkey and a topping
Horns:​ Red macaw

Source: ​‘Land and Water’ Salmon Flies, 1896-1902, George M. Kelson
Fly #1 using cinnamon speckled turkey for the wings and adding jungle cock for dramatic effect…

Fly #1


Fly #2 tied on a ~1/0 std wet fly hook. A true quick ‘n’ dirty fishing fly…

Fly #2


Fly #3 using Kori bustard for the wing and crowned pigeon for the hackle.

Fly #3

None of the heads are presentation quality yet.  How many more to tie? I’ll post them here…


Posted in Fly Patterns, Salmon Flies, Spey Flies, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Spey Plate 2016 Fly

Posted by nwflytyer on November 1, 2015

The fly for the 2016 Spey Plate has been selected, and the contributions are beginning to pour in. Stay tuned for pictures of the excellent individual efforts.

After much consideration of possible flies both ancient and modern, I have selected the Claret Brown listed in Kelson’s ‘Land & Water’ series. Here is the recipe, as listed by Kelson:


The Claret Brown 

​Tail: ​A few fibers of yellow Macaw

Body: ​Three turns of orange Pig’s wool, followed by claret-brown Pig’s wool

Ribs: ​Silver tinsel

Hackle: ​Grey Heron from center

Throat: ​Gallina

Wings: ​Two strips of plain cinnamon Turkey and a topping

Horns:​Red macaw

Source: ​‘Land and Water’ Salmon Flies, 1896-1902, George M. Kelson

Kelson noted that on the Spey, the local dressers varied the pattern by eliminating the topping, a variation with which he happened to disagree. Furthermore, he sometimes added jungle cock for ‘sides.’

Posted in Fly Patterns, Salmon Flies, Spey Flies | Leave a Comment »

The Crane

Posted by nwflytyer on November 1, 2015

An old Irish pattern, as per Francis Francis.

Tip: Silver thread and orange floss

Tail: A very long slice of bright yellow swan   *subbed dyed goose*

Butt: Red crewel 

Body: Bright medium blue floss

Rib: Silver tinsel

Hackle: A blue heron hackle all the way up   *subbed crowned pigeon*

Shoulder: Gallina

Wings: Two long jungle cock feathers with a cuckoo dun hackle over   *subbed light grizzly variant saddle feather for cuckoo*

Head: Red crewel



Posted in Fly Patterns, Salmon Flies, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

The Black and Teal

Posted by nwflytyer on November 1, 2015

Tag: Silver wire and gold floss

Tail: A topping

Butt: Black chenille

Body: 1/3 orange floss, the rest black seal’s fur

Rib: Broad silver tinsel

Hackle: Black cock’s over black body

Throat: Gallina

Wings: Two long and two shorter jungle fowl, teal or pintail (two whole feathers), topping over

Head: Gold twist

Pattern per Sir Herbert Maxwell, mid 1800’s

Posted in Fly Patterns, Salmon Flies | Leave a Comment »

Spey Plate 2015 – The Flies

Posted by nwflytyer on March 22, 2015

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Posted in Salmon Flies, Spey Flies | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »