Northwest Fly Tyer

The fly tying pages of Monte Smith

Archive for the ‘Spey Flies’ Category

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 »

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 »

Spey Plate 2015 – The Delfur Fancy

Posted by nwflytyer on March 22, 2015

In September 2014 I invited some tyers to participate in the 2015 Spey Plate, an annual project that I donate to the Oregon Council of the IFFF at the NW Fly Tying & Fishing Expo.

For this year’s display, I have selected a rather obscure Spey fly – The Delfur Fancy. John Ashley Cooper, in his 1980 book The Great Salmon Rivers of Scotland, documented the history of this lovely pattern. Invented in the late Victorian era, it was named after one of the most prolific beats on the Spey. It was one of the first built-wing fancy patterns to appear there, battling for supremacy against the traditional somber patterns. The following recipe was confirmed by Cooper in the article cited below:

Tag:  Silver tinsel

Tail:  Golden pheasant topping and Indian Crow, no butt

Body: First third lemon yellow wool, followed by black wool

Ribs:  Flat silver tinsel, round gold, and silver tinsel tied in the opposite direction

Hackle:  Gray and black heron

Throat:  Golden pheasant red breast feather

Wing:   Two golden pheasant tippets (back-to-back), in center married yellow swan, mottled turkey, red swan, Amherst pheasant tail (at top)

Cheeks:  Jungle cock

Topping:  Golden pheasant topping over all

Source: “The Delfur Fancy,” Jurgen Preylowski, The American Fly Fisher (Fall 1997)

The Delfur Fancy appeared in early 20th century tackle catalogs such as Farlow’s in 1908 and 1912 and Garden’s in 1917. I have included a couple of pictures in the attachment, which seem to show a fly slightly different from the previous recipe. Here is another pattern, again supposedly attributed to Cooper:

Tag:  Silver twist and yellow floss

Tail:  Golden pheasant topping and Indian Crow

Butt:  Black ostrich herl

Body:  First third yellow floss, rest black floss

Hackle:  Gray heron over front third

Ribs: Broad silver with two fine oval silver tinsels (1 counter wound)

Throat:  Brown Spey cock (or red golden pheasant rump)

Wings:  Tippets with married yellow, red, white, red swan, teal; topping over

Cheeks:  Jungle cock

Spey Plate_Delfur Fancy (11)_edited

Spey Plate_Delfur Fancy (5)

Posted in Salmon Flies, Spey Flies | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Spey Plate | Northwest Fly Tyer and Fly Fishing Expo

Posted by nwflytyer on January 21, 2013

Spey Plate | Northwest Fly Tyer and Fly Fishing Expo.

A little something I wrote for the NW Fly Tyer Expo website on the Spey Plate with pictures of a few flies I tied for the occasion.  Which one is going to make the final cut?  And will it compare to all the great flies that have been contributed?

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


Posted by nwflytyer on March 14, 2012


Oh, this is good!  There are many patterns here, complete with pictures and recipes.  Dries, wets, tube flies, etc.

I am especially intrigued with the Classic Salmon Flies section at the bottom of the page.  The flies of Blacker, Francis Francis, Kelson, etc al.  Photos, recipes, wow!

Take a look and bookmark this site!


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

Working With Bronze Mallard

Posted by nwflytyer on February 26, 2012

I’ve been doing a little tying with bronze mallard lately, and I was reminded of some notes I put together awhile back for a couple of Spey classes.  Sorry there are no pictures…perhaps I will add some later.  In the meantime, I hope this might help the budding Spey fly tyer.

Incidentally, these tips pertain to forming a mallard roof on your full-dress salmon flies, too; just pare down the width of the mallard strips.

1. Get good quality bronze mallard.  Long fibers with grey roots (it’s a softer part of the feather and easier to mount) and tips that tend to stick together (you don’t want the tips to fray or splay out).  You must bind the mallard to the hook over the grey section of the feather to avoid it splitting and/or rolling out of position.

2. When snipping the mallard sections from the feather, leave the stem (rachiis) on your slip.  This will hold things together as you form your wing.

3. Use two matching quills when selecting your mallard slips.  Your slips will meld together much easier that way, and look good too.  Otherwise, it can be a battle to get them to work together.  Use fairly thin feather sections to start with (⅛” – ¼” per section).  It will make the material less likely to bunch up or roll and ruin your wing.  This width of the mallard slips can be increased as you get more comfortable with your techniques, if desired.

4. Try to keep the head area free of any other materials where you will apply the wing.  It’s really tough to set mallard on top of another material.  Careful tying of the throat materials is important so as not to create a “bump” at the head that must be overcome when applying the wings.  You can, if needed, create a nice platform with your (flattened) thread, if necessary, snug up against your throat material.

5. One method of mounting is to use a left side slip for the near side, and a right side slip for the far side.  I align the ends and “hump” them together as a single unit (remember tip #2?).  Then apply it to the hook as one wing, using a soft loop to hold it in place and then tighter wraps to secure.  The key to this method is to have these slips of mallard hold against one another and retain the shape of your wing.

6.  You can also apply the wing slips one at a time.  I’ve started using this method more and more as of late where I apply the far side and hold it with a wrap or two.  Then apply the near side slip using that far side section as a brace.  You can slide the near side wing right up to your brace and then use your fingers to adjust the final position.  It’s amazing how you can sometimes just squeeze the wing sections into proper alignment after applying them in this manner.

7.  Both of the methods described will also work if you want to reverse the mallard slips and work with a right side feather section for the near side wing.  This will give a distinct downswept appearance to the wing.

I happen to prefer the upswept appearance at the end of the wing, and the left side = near wing follows how I apply married strips on full dress salmon flies.  So it keeps it consistent for me.  But many tyers go with the right side = near wing, so feel free to experiment to see what looks good and works for you.

7. A final method of applying a bronze mallard wing is also probably the simplest:  using a single slip of feather and folding it in half before tying it on.  Select a ½” or so width of mallard. Pull it out so that it is perpendicular to the stem. Strip it off with a quick pull – do not cut it, as you want a bit of the stem to remain to help hold it together.

Fold the slip in half and give it a bit of curve so that it will hug the body of your fly, and attach to the hook with a soft loop of thread to hold it.  Position it with your fingers and then follow with a couple of snug wraps to set your wing in final position.  Voila!

Happy tying!

Posted in Reference, Salmon Flies, Spey Flies, Steelhead Flies, Tips & Techniques, Tying Notes | 1 Comment »

Stormy Morn Steelhead Dee

Posted by nwflytyer on January 22, 2012

Stormy Morn

This is a Dee style fly designed for steelhead fishing and is a dressing re-visited from years past.  I’ve tweaked the recipe slightly, but the general color, components, and design remain the same.

I used to tie this with marabou hackle, but found that it was a little heavy for my liking.  It would sometimes mat and ruin the look of the fly when swimming through the water.  I used to set the wings higher, but I have since gone to a lower-set and sleeker design for many of my steelhead flies.  Here’s the recipe for this version:

Hook:  TMC 202SP, #1/0

Tag:  Silver oval tinsel

Tail:  Golden pheasant crest veiled with a few fibers of white guinea dyed light blue

Butt:  Black ostrich herl

Rib:  Gold oval tinsel

Rear 1/3 Body:  Flat silver tinsel

Front Body:  Blend of purple and claret fur (seal, angora, etc)

Hackle:  Purple schlappen – stripped on one side – wound from the fur.

Throat:  White guinea dyed light blue and a blue-phase peacock feather

Wings:  Strips of Amherst pheasant

Cheeks:  Jungle cock, drooping (optional)

Here is another recent fly, sans jungle cock, tied on one of the beautiful new Dave McNeese Blue Heron Spey hooks (2.25″):

tied on a Blue Heron Spey Hook - 2.25"

Here is one of the original Stormy Morns:

Stormy Morn - original version

Pair of Stormy Morns ready to go for a swim

Posted in Fly Patterns, Spey Flies, Steelhead Flies, Tying Notes | 2 Comments »

‘Tis the Season – Yuletide Spey

Posted by nwflytyer on December 4, 2011

A fun fly in the colors of the season.  Originally tied for a lighthearted contest, but not submitted.  Perhaps for the best since it wasn’t as lighthearted as I thought!

Yuletide Spey

The recipe:

Hook:  Daiichi 2052, # 1.5 (nickel finish)

Rib:  Medium oval silver tinsel

Hackle:  White schlappen, stripped on one side

Body:  1/5 red floss, balance red seal or goat dubbing

Throat:  Red schlappen, sparse (1 – 1 1/2 turns)

Wing:  Four medium green hackle tips

Sides:  Jungle cock

Head:  Red

Posted in Fly Patterns, Spey Flies, Steelhead Flies, Tying Notes | Leave a Comment »