Tying the Glen Grant
The Glen Grant
(Spey Fly, Major Grant, mid-19th Century)
Pattern as per George M. Kelson, The Salmon Fly (1895)
Tail: Golden pheasant yellow rump (point)
Body: Yellow Berlin wool three turns, and black Berlin wool
Ribs: Silver lace and silver tinsel (usual way)
Hackle: A black Spey cock hackle from end of body, but wound from root the reverse way crossing over ribs
Wings: Two long jungle cocks (back-to-back), two reaching half way and two still shorter, and teal
Head: Yellow Berlin wool
Major James Grant was one of the authorities on salmon flyfishing on the river Spey during the middle of the 19th century. Incidentally, ‘Glen’ refers not to a person, but rather a ravine or narrow valley.
Some tying considerations:
- The length of the gut to form the eye and tapering it into the shank is not a big concern on this fly because we can fill in easily with the wool that forms the body.
- Using the “point” of the golden pheasant rump feather (yellow fibers) for the tail – clip a ‘V’ out of the tip of the feather, preferably so that the remaining fibers will all be about the same length when tied in. There is a spot where the fibers further down the stem will not reach the end of the tip when folded back. Strip these away.
- The tie-in point for the tail is directly above the hook point (or just slightly behind). There is no tip or tag, but the tail will be placed at the same spot it would be on a full-dress pattern. Make a snug wrap or two over the bare stem of the feather. Pull it (toward the eye) into place until you achieve the length you want for the tail. It should extend beyond the bend of the hook, but how far depends on what looks good to you.
- Ribs (2) and hackle (1), full length of body. Consider the orientation of these and their relation to each other. Here are three options:
- Tie in the flat silver tinsel on the bottom of the shank; just in front of that, tie in the hackle. On backside attach the lace (twist or oval tinsel) that will be counter-wrapped over the hackle. The order of tying is flat, hackle following, then countered with the lace.
- Tie in the flat silver tinsel on the bottom of the shank; just in front of that, tie in the lace. On the backside is the hackle to be counter-wound over the ribs (as per the original recipe). The lace could be used as a holding rib over the hackle if desired, but the original called for the tying order to be flat tinsel, lace following, countered with the hackle.
- Flat, lace, and hackle all tied in and wrapped forward in the same direction. Countered with silver wire or fine oval tinsel for durability.
- Forming the body: Here is a little different method to use two colors of wool to form the body (this is a nice method to use for a multi-colored silk body). Tie in both colors of wool underneath the shank, leaving the black dangling a few turns short of the rear. Tie the yellow all the way to the rear. Wrap the yellow wool forward three turns, and take one turn over the black wool. Now switch to the black and wrap forward burying the yellow underneath as you go. Use this to fill in the “step” created by the gut, if necessary. Try to flatten the strands of wool as you wrap; you don’t want them to be twisted into cords.
You can also shred the wool and dub the body if preferred.
- Teal throat: folded and tied in as normal. If bulk on top of the shank is problematic, consider using a false hackle of fibers applied directly under the shank and spread around the sides a bit. Can use multiple sets if needed.
- Some Considerations:
- Wrap the Berlin wools for the body with flattened strands (as you would floss), not mini ropes.
- Leave a little extra room at the front for the wool head.
- Keep top of shank as clear of materials as possible at the head
- Look for thin stems for the teal throat hackle to help keep bulk down on top of the shank. May want a false hackle or beard to help with this.
- Wing Construction: try to get proportional spacing between the eyes of the three jungle cock feathers. Also, they should step down in size from tail to head; in other words, the largest eye will be the rearmost one covered with a slightly smaller one and finally a smaller one yet. Set them out beforehand and pre-measure the tie-in points.
- The length of the wing should reach to the hook bend or so. While I have found no literature addressing wing length specifically, most examples I have seen adhere to this guideline.
- If you want a low-set wing: trim or pull fibers from the underside of the jungle cock feathers so that they will lay flat against the top of the fly. This keeps them from kicking up.
- Forming your wing: the real challenge of this fly is here. Aligning three jungle cock feathers per side and keeping them on plane can be a challenge for even the most patient of tyers.
- Take your time and pre-measure the lengths you need for each feather
- I usually apply the first two feathers as a single unit, and possibly the second set as well.
- The shortest jungle cock spears are set as one would cheeks on any other salmon fly
- Crimp the stems as necessary to keep each feather lying flat against the previous one (crimp them with the fibers on the stem; strip the base fibers after you’ve crimped to shape).
- You might think of the wing construction as setting the first pair as an underwing, the second as shoulders, and the third as cheeks.
- Teal for topping/roof over the wing; a couple of methods can accomplish this:
- Pull a single strip from either a Left or a Right feather after stroking the fibers perpendicular to the stem. Fold slip in half and set it on top. If length allows, try to have the teal reach the back of your wing.
- Matching slips – a bit upswept would have the L on the near side and R on the far side. You could opt for a more naturally curving down appearance by reversing these (L goes far side). Let the natural curvature work down into the wing.
- To form the head, shred the yellow wool by pulling from a single strand with your fingers. Use the fibers to form a sparse dubbing noodle. The sparser you go, the more control over building the size and shape of your head. As the very last step – after you have completed the wool head – switch to black thread and make a few turns to complete your fly.