Northwest Fly Tyer

The fly tying pages of Monte Smith

Tying the Lady Amherst

I like tippet-wing flies: the Ranger series, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Stevenson, the Evening Star and Lady Amherst…just a few of the many tippet-wings that I have tied over the years. I was asked to dress a Lady Amherst by an author in Germany for an article. Since I have not dressed one of these since 2003, I looked forward to the opportunity to re-visit one of the modern classic tippet wing flies.

I won’t bore you with the tedious shot-by-shot tying process. But let’s take a look at some of the stages of dressing this classic salmon fly (as usual, click the picture for a larger view in another window):


The tip and tag have been tied, the tail has been placed, a few strands of teal have been applied as a light veiling, and the ostrich butt has been completed. I am carefully smoothing the underbody with thread while adding the medium oval silver tinsel for the rib. Notice the ribbing material is tied in on the far side of the hook, and it travels the length of the shank (from the gut eye tie off point, to the rear). I want the underbody as even as possible for the tinsel that will form the body. Notice the black markings on the body. I have marked where I want to tie in the body hackle and where the front of the body will stop. I find these little guidelines helpful in helping me lay out the body construction. I always use white or yellow thread for dressing salmon flies, switching to black at the head.

IMG_2505The tinsel body has been wrapped, paying careful attention to working around the hackle that is to start at the second rib, and the oval tinsel rib has been brought forward in 5 equal turns. The second turn is placed just in front of the badger hackle.

IMG_2508The hackle has been applied and the throat has been completed with a couple of turns of teal. I try to keep the hackles flowing back by folding them before and working the fibers back as I tie them on.

IMG_2512The first pair of jungle cock have been applied back to back. The two pairs of Amherst tippets have been tied on as well. The original pattern recipe calls for the first pair to be more square in shape, with the shorter covering pair to be more rounded. I try to place the shorter pair so that the top black bar will merge with the second black bar of the large tippets.

IMG_2516Here is a look down the hook shank – note the position of the wing materials. Straight up and down, like a ‘knife-edge.” I do not want the feathers to splay out at angles to the shank.

IMG_2518Here, the cheek feathers of jungle cock and kingfisher have been added, the topping applied, and the macaw horns set along the upper portion of the wing. This is the completed fly.

4 Responses to “Tying the Lady Amherst”

  1. Ron Stringer said

    I like your Lady Amherst and would like to know what size of hook is used when making one? Thank-you Thunderspoke

  2. nwflytyer said

    Hi Thunderspoke,
    That hook is a Gaelic Supreme Harrison-Bartleet #4/0, which is just a fancy way of saying a graceful, curved bend slightly extra long 4/0. 4/0 is a nice size for display flies because it’s about the limit for finding materials that are suitable length without spending a king’s ransom. I’m of the opinion that hook shape matters more than overall size, but a lot of “expert” salmon tyers believe size is everything. 🙂 Thanks for stopping in and commenting.

  3. Ron Stringer said

    Thank you Monte for answering my email. I am new at The Classic Salmon Flys, I have been using 2 great suppliers AO Feathers and Feathers MC, John McLain. Neither of these carry the hook you recommended . Do you know where I might be able to buy the hooks ? One more question, when you say slightly extra long 4/0, does that mean you order Gaelic Supreme Harrison-Bartleet #4/0 slighty extra long hook ? I have tyed many Salt Water flys but The Classic Salmon I have discovered are a whole new ball game. Thank you for your time


  4. nwflytyer said

    Hi Ron,
    Both suppliers are top-notch, as Aaron and John really know their stuff! Unfortunately, the Gaelic Supreme series of hooks from Belvoirdale has been discontinued, but there are occasional opportunities to snag some from eBay or a tying supply house that has some stock left. These hooks were handmade and very affordable, so many tyers have since scrambled to try to grab the remaining stock. Aaron makes some of his own hooks, and could probably steer you in the right direction for your hook needs.

    Sorry I wasn’t too clear on the “extra long” comment…I just meant that the Harrison-Bartleet is slightly longer than standard. A 4/0 HB is longer than a standard 4/0 hook. To confuse matters further, though, there are extra long HBs available, but these will generally be designated as Dee hooks.

    Welcome to the Dark Side of fly tying – the Classic Salmon Fly obsession! Enjoy!


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