Hand Made Salmon Hooks|
Ronn Lucas, Sr.
Your first salmon fly
Posted 01 July 2005 - 02:23 PM
So, here are my suggestions for getting started and I would like the other experienced guys to chip in here. Ronn, Bud, Stack, CharlieD, etc. I want your input on this.
1. Get a good beginners book. My first two books were Poul Jorgensen's "Salmon Flies..." and Dick Talleur's "Pretty and Practical.." Both of these together will give the beginner a solid foundation on materials, techniques and the anatomy of a salmon fly. There are other good books out there, and I have them all, but these two are IMHO the best combo for the beginner.
2. Keep it simple!!! I can't stress this enough. My first stripwing fly was a Blue Charm and I tied and re-tied it at least 5 times before I was even remotely satisfied with it. Take your time and try to make every aspect from tag to head as good as you can make it. As Ronn has stated many times, if it isn't "perfect" tear it apart and do it again.
3. Be careful. This isn't a race to see how fast you can tie a fly. Take your time, make every thread wrap count. Perhaps the biggest transition from tying other types of flies is the number of thread wraps you'll use when tying in materials. The 5/3 "rule" is very important. Five initial wraps to hold the material in, then remove three wraps when mounting the next thing.
I am going to pin this thread at some point. Please refrain from posting any questions here, I want this to be about general and important pieces of information for the inexperienced tyer.
Posted 01 July 2005 - 06:30 PM
the first point i would like to throw in also is if, when you tie or attempt to tie in a stripwing and it doesn't work out that first, second or even third time. you have not lost your materials because they seem twisted or crooked at the point you tried tying it in. don't throw this wing away and begin marrying more strips. you can take a simply tea kettle with a steam cap and lightly run the twisted or cooked part over this steam and it will pop right back into place.
i neat trick also which could make compressing down the stripwing easier is to brush it across a light steam bath before attempting that first try. this softens the fibers so you can get a better compression of the wing. turkey becomes as soft as goose with this trick alone.
theres also a tool made by Charlie Chute used to compress the wing. it's made with wire and a weight below. i built one myself but have not had much success with it but some swear by it. just another consideration for beginners
the two reference materials Tb refered to are great and i would reccomend them highly to anyone, beginner or pro . there are numerous books out there one can get great information from. Paul ptalis also has a nice book. not as informative as micheals book but nice . great pics and a chapter on flow and balance of the fly which i notice some beginners are struggling with also. this chapter alone made things more clear to me as how the basic structure of a fly should look. theres also a good chapter on vintage and comtempary blind eye salmon hooks .
another point i would like to mention for all beginners is if you can be so fortunate to have an experienced tyer offer help, relish your stroke of luck. an experienced tyer can lead you in the right direction and save you alot of headaches. myself, so fortunate to have two extremely well gifted tyers as Ronn Lucas and John Mclain help me in my struggles as a beginner. i'm still learning to much to mention here from these guys. if an experienced tyer offers tips or suggestion, listen and absorb it all in. take notes if you must but practice what they preach.
myself , when i first began experimenting with these types of flies a blessing came in the way of micheals book. i couldn't believe my new found luck until i ordered and watched his DVD. this DVD alone brought light to my new found hobby and from that point on i never looked back. i really can't discribe how this DVD helped me out but if your given the chance, GET IT.
i can't stress the remark that TB made so clearly. if something doesn't look right or is not working for you. your hobby knife or razor blade should be your best friend. i made this mistake to many times to count but hey, i'm chopping away now. another important fact that TB made was keeping it simple and practice. theres no better teacher than your hands on experience.
myself i feel like full winged flies are a better alternative for a beginner. the tie in process is much more simple than stripwinged flies. you can learn to tie in materials and find your stlye or technique then gradually move on to married wing versions of these flies.
No two tiers are alike in technique. the bacis principles are the same and used by all but you have to get experience or as TB mentioned ,practice . theres no hard set rules to good technique. with practice you will find what works best for you but try to always stay within the boundries of basic priciples such as the 5/3 method of adding and applying materials. stay simple and pay attention to your application of materials.
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Posted 01 July 2005 - 09:43 PM
Tying a Elk Hair Caddis is not that much different than tying a fully dressed fly. We are using thread to tie in and down materials so if we really think about it, tying the fancies shouldn't be all that intimidating. Yes, the fully dressed flies are more technique intensive and we have a greater array of materials on a single hook than an EHC but they are related.
Having said that, how does one begin to tie Salmon flies? Well, I am not sure I would start with a fully dressed fly even if one is proficient with fishing flies. Tying a Spey or Dee style fly will give one experience with floss, tinsel and in the case of Speys, setting a Mallard wing. They also come with an accepted need for smallish heads. Simple strip wing flies might be the next logical step. They will introduce the tyer to using a wing that is mounted to the top of the fly much the same as it's larger and more robust relative the married wing flies. Streamers in the tradition of the Rangeley style will introduce the tyer to long floss bodies and tinsel that wants to be even. It will also give a bit of an introduction to setting multiple full feather wings be they on top or the sides of the flies.
Then, there are the fully dressed flies. These are the granddaddies of all the fly styles. They incorporate or can incorporate virtually all of the techniques of regular fishing flies. If you have tied fishing flies with floss tags and tinsel ribs, you can tie the tags on full dressed flies. If you have tied streamers with long floss bodies, and tinsel ribs, you can tie the bodies of full dressed flies. If you have tied strip wings, you can tie married wing flies. Speys will give you the experience for setting the mallard atop a married wing. Dees will give you hackling, ribbing and other techniques to tie the fancies.
Does one NEED to learn all of the other disciplines to tie fully dressed flies? In a word, no. Will doing it help and give knowledge of how materials handle so when problems occur, you'll know why? Yes. Even if the tyer is blessed with what I call "good hands" and has natural talents, there is NO MORE IMPORTANT THING THAN LEARNING THE BASICS! The basic techniques will allow a tyer to tie almost any style of fly. If one does not learn all of the basics in some logical progression, he/she will handicap his/her progression as a tyer.
In tying Salmon flies, knowledge is power. Read, read, read. Watch others tie if you have the chance and PAY ATTENTION! Watch EVERY small thing an experienced tyer does. What direction does the thread come around the hook, how is the thread tightened, how are their hands and fingers positioned, how are the materials prepared, are thread turns next to each other or separated, does the thread cross, are the tie in and tie off spaces in line, staggered, on top, on the bottom, the sides, what does the bed look like for setting wings, how to tie on sides, cheeks, toppings, horns, finish heads, coat with cement, and I think you get the message. The tyer who has never tied particularly a full dressed fly that thinks they can sit and tie one without doing their homework will NOT tie good flies. I don't care how talented or gifted that person is, without the knowledge I mentioned above, their flies will lack. One must study what makes a good looking fly. All of us will not be in 100% agreement on what pleases us but certain things are pretty much universal. Balance, color harmony, overall appearance will pretty much be commonly accepted basics.
Space really doesn't allow fully in-depth discussion here on all of what one needs to embark on the tying journey but it can be a start.
When I thought I would try getting fancy with my flies, I hadn't really done my homework. I tied a few flies that at the time, I thought were pretty special but in reality, they were junk and after I started really studying what other, more experienced tyers did and looking (REALLY LOOKING at the details) at the classics and contemporary flies, I realized that just picking up a material and starting to strap it to a hook was a waste of time and materials.
Another important thing is to SLOW DOWN. I think TB mentioned, this is not a race. Pay absolute attention to every small thing you do, how it works, if it doesn't, analyze why, adjust and try again. If it works, burn it into your memory. If it doesn't, forget it and don't repeat it. Analyze every material. What is it's shape? How does it handle? Tying full dressed flies is a discipline of small details. The fly might be in excess of 6" long but it is details thousandths of an inch that makes it possible.
Finally, not everyone's techniques will work for us. I studied many of the books like Alcott's, Radenchich's, Jorgensen's, Price-Tannat's and a couple more. I really couldn't make any one of their methods work but I did make some of their methods work for me so it is a distillation of methods plus some tweaking of my own that make up my techniques. Another thing that just isn't possible to convey in print is the subtlety of hand movements. I have not seen the new DVD's yet but have no doubt that they can answer some of the questions not possible in print. There is also no substitute for doing it.
Remember, not even experienced tyers hit a home run with every fly.
Strive for perfection but do not beat yourself up when you don't attain it. I don't think it is false humility when a tyer says he/she has not tied a perfect fly. I don't think it is possible by even the best tyer. Somewhere, one will uncover some small imperfect detail that may not be apparent in a first look. You can come close to perfection as long as you pay close attention to what you are doing. Just tie to the best of your abilities and learn what level of competency you can live with. Keep your tying fun.
I have tried to answer in more detail some of what I have learned over the years and tried to concentrate on what I did not find in other publications in my little series on tying Atlantic Salmon and Steelhead flies. You can find many nuggets of information in each lesson that will help even experienced tyers. Please read them carefully and even if you don't tie the patterns, take the information presented and apply it to your tying where appropriate. The series is located here. http://flyanglersonl...tying/atlantic/
The bottom line is that tying particularly the fully dressed flies is an endeavor that can keep even the most gifted tyer busy learning new things for a very long time. Free style tying in particular will keep one busy for as long as one wants as the tyer adds more materials not traditionally considered for tying the classics.
One last thing that I have said before but bears repeating. The tyers who developed what are now considered the classics could be called the free style tyers of their day. I bet they were having a blast utilizing all of the rare feathers that were coming from new lands to satisfy the milinery trade. I feel a bit connected to them in a way when I get a new material. Just today, I received some feathers from a bird that until a couple weeks ago, I didn't know existed.
APPLE FRITTER BANDIT
Posted 22 August 2005 - 01:20 AM
I like to explain it as going from fishing with a spinning rod to learning how to fish with the fly rod. You have to get rid of some bad habits and rely on your timing, in this case hands and eyes, to make materials work for you.
As I have stated before, I have tied flies for 25 years, most of those as a commercial tier. When was the first time I made my first big leap in my tying? When I went to the local fly shop and spent a litlle bit of money and bought some better materials. The darn things started doing the same thing as the picture in the book. It was amazing.
The same thing happened a couple of years ago when I started doing Salmon flies. I bought some junk and tried to make it work. Guess what? Frustration set in and I got nothing but pissed. I spent a little money and got some nicer materials and things started to work better. Spend what you can afford and get a few nice materials at a time.
I was fortunate at that time to be given John McLain's name and he became my mentor. He sent me some hooks, gut and materials which made my life so much easier. The flies were still obnoxious, but the materials became easier to apply to the hook.
I went to Cleveland and tied with Paul Rossman and listened to Michael Radencich, Charlie Chute, Chuck Moxley, Roger Plourde and John Shewey as they explained the various techniques. I met and talked with other folks who were at the same phase I was and we swapped notes. I also happened across Ronn Lucas' column in Fly Anglers Online and read as much of that as I could. The point of this paragraph, go to fly shows and seminars. You never know who you will run into. I went to the Sow Bug Show in Arkansas in March and was fortunate enough to spend quality time with Stack for three days talking about Salmon, Spey and Dee flies and even got a short lesson in Spey wings. (Thanks Stack). I went to the Smallmouth Rendezvous in Oklahoma and was fortunate enough to tie next to Del Ray for two days and learned a lot from him as well. I know Bud is jealous as am I of you guys who can go to a Show every weekend in the fall and winter. Go to these shows and sit and watch and ask questions. Most of the guys or gals do not mind the company and the questions.
Unfortunately, Bud and I and others like us don't exacly live in the Salmon fly tying Meccas, Texas and Louisiana. A lot of what we have learned is over the phone with some folks who have been really good at sharing and explaining information over the phone.
It is simply different types of techniques and you are outside your comfort zone with these flies. Do not give up. Keep with it. I thought I had 10 left thumbs when I first started and my first efforts are in a deep dark corner of my tying room.
Posted 02 November 2005 - 03:43 PM
Posted 09 November 2005 - 04:31 AM
A Blue Charm for example is a very difficult fly even for a vetran tyer to
make look beautiful. The underwiing of a well tied Blue Charm shoul ride
low to the hook shank leaving (a very little window, space between the hook shank and the wing.). I do agree that a strip wing fly is great practice before building up to the 28 parts of full dressed Jock Scot wing because so much less is required. However (goo/bad) any mistakes really stand out. That is to say a cirtique will be easy (good because we learn from such), (bad because there is nothing to hide!). I would challenge many experienced tiers to tie a "simple' strip wing fly such as a Blue Charm for critque from other vetran fly tiers. I believe this to be a difficult challange indeed. We could all learn from this if we are honest, does anyone disagee?
Posted 22 March 2006 - 09:53 AM
I would also strongly countenance against starting with a 'creative' fly since there are then no benchmarks to work to and no way of comparing your fly with others so you can identify what went right and what went wrong... Go creative eventually if you wish, but learn the basics FIRST.
My suggestion for the ideal fly to tie, because it's challenging without being excrutiatingly difficult, very attractive... AND requires limited materials - with most elements already in the possession of the average trout tyer and the 'special' extra items required being stuff that you will go on to use in most classic patterns.
The fly is the THUNDER AND LIGHTNING - NOT the 'standard' pattern but the version listed in Pryce Tannatt, I've listed the elements with some notes:
Tag: Fine Silver Thread (traditionally round, known as 'twist' - but oval is fine) and Golden Yellow floss
Tail: GP Topping and Indian Crow (very good cheap substitutes made by dyeing white pheasant collar feathers are widely available, however a reddish orange hackle tip works well too)
Butt: Black Ostrich Herl (this should be the finest you can get - the stuff that you get from cheap feather dusters, black dyed peacock works well too)
Hackle: 'Fiery' Brown - use standard Rhode Island Red/Coachman Brown
Throat: Jay (this is fiddley to use, but blue dyed guinea fowl is a cheap, acceptable and traditional substitute)
Wings: This should be LOW (the wings that stick up at a 45ş angle are strictly 'wrong' and a stylistic choice you should make only AFTER you've learned to do them 'right').
The wing is made up of married strips (the order is from the bottom-up which is the standard way of listing them) Yellow, Scarlet and Blue Turkey, Goose or Swan (Turkey is the easiest to use, goose the easiest to get and cheapest) Bustard (Dark speckled Turkey is OK as a Sub) and Golden Pheasant Tail (this is the awkward one - you should use fibres from the centre tail feather, a light turkey could be used as a subs)... A total of around 24 fibres is usually considered a good number all round.
'Roofing' the wing is bronze mallard which can be applied in 2 strips either side at the top edge like a roof or, easier, a single strip over the top which has been worked into a curve before tying on (though not strictly 'correct' a little spit helps it adhere to the wing and looks better.
Horns: These are Blue and Gold Macaw and should start in the middle of the wing and arch up and over it - crossing near their tips - length about the same as the wing (1" matched sections which will do 20-30 flies are easilly available at a reasonable price - adjust the curve of the fibres by gently drawing the fibre between your thumb and forefinger)
Head: Strictly speaking this should be wrapped ostrich herl, but it is one element most tyers leave out.
I've attached a pic of a T&H I tied a while back (not the best fly I eve tied but it is a good illustration) - you'll notice the repetition of the wing elements - there's no hard rule as to how you mix your wing materials.
The next step once you're feeling comfortable handling the materials for a fly like the above is to choose patterns that progressively add a topping (the crest that runs above the wing); an underwing (usually White tipped Turkey or Golden Pheasant Tippet); shoulders (the wood duck and/or teal sections on the sides - one of the most awkward things to learn); veilings (the little feathers that appear above and below the body with butts covered by ostrich herl); and cheeks (Jungle Cock and/or other feathers) to this basic structure - once you've added these elements successfully you have all the techniques needed to tie even the most complex fly like a Jock Scott.
1. Aim to use the minimum thread you can at every stage - even taking turns off tie-ins when you are ready to to tie on another element over them.
2. A small head is the Holy Grail of Salmon tying - to achieve this the main things to remember are that should use a very fine thread, you move very slightly forward with each element you add so you're not tying a 'lump on a lump' and that you stay WELL clear of the head area with your materials and thread until you come to adding the very last materials.
3. Whatever it is, when you've tied your first salmon fly don't simply feel you're not ever going to get it right - look very carefully at the bits your are unhappy with - ask yourself why is THAT bit wrong - what should I do to get it better next time, post it on the Forum - you'll get a lot of suggestions that are enourmously helpful.
4. Take your time - even the simplest fly takes me 2 hours - and I'm pretty quick, something like a Jock Scott take 6-8 hours.
5. As you're tying, if a bit ain't right unwrap, take it off and redo it - evern the greatest tyer makes mistakes - the reason their flies look so good is that they don't let them go.
6. Buy a book or two - Radencich is definately the best I tihnk as it has lots of patterns, very good step-by-steps and pictures of some of the ultimate examples of Slamon fly tying.
7. Finally PERSERVERE - it takes YEARS and 100s of flies to get as good as the best guys on the Forum - but if you practice, work hard and think about and address what you're doing right and what you're doing wrong, then there's no reason why you can't get as good or better than the best.
...That's MY two-penneth - English Pennies are about twice the value of a US Cent (that's my excuse for writing so much anyway).
Posted 11 April 2006 - 12:35 AM
Posted 11 April 2006 - 06:15 PM
new to the site and frankly I love it...
the better control you have over the thread then the more stuff you can put onto a hook.
two turns of a flat, well waxed 6/0 thread , directly next to each other is much better than 6-7 turns of 14/0...it's all about thread control...
on a bare hook try practicing with any winging material such as turkey..about 1/4" in width...even a single slip (as some wet flies were tied way back when) ...wrap the thread around the wing 90 degrees to the fibers, pinch then tighten, or canter the thread toward the front of the fly at a 45 degree angle...pull backwards or straight down, up, etc...and see how the pressure changes the attitude of the wing...
take the hook out of vise and try setting the wing in hand...it isn't that difficult, in fact you may like this technique better...your hands are NOT articulated into some uncomfortable, unorthodox, un-natural position...regulated by the hieght and angle of the vise...
don't go too slow..you'll find that a consistant tying speed is actually a confident speed...which in turn produces a strong fly...these things were meant to be fished so they didnt, couldn't take too long to manufacture
then choose a pattern..such as a green highlander...don't worry about the color or the pedigree of the feathers...just try to tie a strong, well porportioned fly...and keep remmbering that you have better, much better materials , tools , etc. than some fisherman, in a candlelit hut on the banks of a river 150 years ago.
enjoy it, it is tons of fun.
Posted 09 May 2006 - 01:56 AM
I am a wet fly tyer that is more and more being mezmorised by Salmon flies. These flies like the wet Flies I tie from Ray Bergmans book Trout are just simply beautiful. I do not know why, or understand why these flies like wet flies are just calling me to tie them. Now it's time for me to learn how to tie them. I want to thank every one's input on this thread. It was very useful and very very informative. My thumnail shows one of my wet flies I tie. The only thing in the picture. Is I did not complete the four part head finish. This fly was completed two weeks after the picture. I am a stickler for detail and I find myself admiring beautiful flies that I tie and totaly flip out over the flies on this board I see. I hope in awhile I will be worthy of posting some of my Salmon flies once I learn how to tie them.
Posted 25 February 2007 - 01:02 AM
Much of what I say is proberly allready stated, but then it cant be stated enough so, here it follows.
Ron for example, stated that classic flies are related to all other flies. That is correct, read the blacker book and you will see the way they were built originally (very much the same principles)
However, now a days, a VERY large range of todays streamers, nymphs, drie flies, modern salmon flies and so on, are made partly or only of artificial material.
The classic salmon flies are (apart from the hook) only made by material provided by mother nature.
This brings us classic tyers to a dilemma, the material is never the same from different animals.
So, what I am going to state in this tip, is that good material, is allmost.... everything.
You CANT make a nice looking fly with bad materials.
Now, great material (no matter what part really, DO cost money)
Everything from toppings, to wingmaterial is allways more expensive when in good quality. But it DO pays of to use it.
So, when you are about to start tying your first classic flies, choose a fly that is fairly simple, with materials that you can afford which has good quality.
Rather an Orange parson with nice, simple materials, than a Jock Scott with broken white tipped turkey under wing.
Now, Which patterns might be good then? Orange parson, I would say, is a fairly simple fly that will learn you to manage many different techniques. (Of course without the cock of the rock wing, use pale, orange hen or cock feathers instead)
Spey and dee flies are also fairly cheap regarding materials.
When it comes to the tying, as everyone elses wrote, do not rush. Take your time. Myself I take several hours for every fly. My friends think that I am an idiot wasting so much time at flies that they say dont fish as good as their modern flies, but they dont understand it. In order to get good ressult, Time is a keyword. And if something on the fly does not please you, do not procceed, go back and redo untill you manage to get it right. or post here to get help doing what you want. Otherwise you may do the rest of the fly perfect and you will look at the sads part and think, "why the hell did I not change it while I had the chance"
Learn the basic proportions of the fly.
The tail is originally supposed to be 1,5 times long as the gap of the hook.
The wing should reach the tip of the tail (in some styles not, but that you will learn afterwards)
The hackle (if not spey/dee/long hackled classics) should not be longer than reach the same level as the hook tip.
The body should be cigarr shaped (with the fat side towards the head)
Also learn the names of all parts of the fly. If you google on classic salmon parts or something you will proberly find good pictures showing all parts with names. That is essential when reading patterns.
This is all I can bare writing now. It is in the middle of the night here and the bed is screaming for me.
Posted 20 March 2007 - 04:41 AM
This is my first posting. I want to thank all of you for this thread and your suggestions. I have just attempted my first two Atlantic Salmon flies
Well, considering I didn't have very good mateerials and hadn't done one before I decided to do something freestyle ,but still attempting to learn and conform to most of the standards of the classics My first one was o.k. considering all these things.
Well, my second one had all the problems that have been talked about in this thread and for the reasons talked about , SO, I want to thank all of you for your time and wisdom and now I am slowing down and working on the basics etc ...
Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!
P.S.Now I found out I was accepted for the tying seminar!
Posted 03 September 2007 - 07:27 PM
94 Yorktown Road
Roscoe, N.Y. 12776-5017
82 Stone Dog Lane
Lakeview, Arkansas 72642
Swallows Nest Fly Tyers
Posted 09 August 2008 - 05:27 AM
Posted 29 August 2008 - 02:17 PM
Posted 29 August 2008 - 02:22 PM
Posted 24 February 2012 - 10:08 PM
At these demo's I'd use the longest scabbiest turkey that could be found,going through 3,4 maybe even 5 mounts before switching to the good stuff by simply marrying up and tying in OVER LENGTH! Tie in the wing(a version of the bobbin loop from Darrels book Fly Tying Methods) show the pupils,undo the thread,pull the wing forward 3-4mm and tie-in again,repeat and repeat until you run out of scabby turkey fibres.Once the fingers are working tie-in the good stuff and finish off the fly.
The progress made since I gave up is nothing short of astounding and mind boggling.All you who bend feathers keep up the fabulous work.
Posted 01 May 2012 - 03:37 PM