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Understanding Classic Proportions


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#1 Ephemerella

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 02:23 AM

OK experts, I need your help!
I realize this will be mostly opinion, rather than fact, but I am trying to understand the correct proportions of classic salmon flies, especially those with married type wings. One of the problems I am most challenged with is "getting" the right flow or classic proportions. Obvious if you look at my flies. So I want to learn. And this is the best place to learn, no doubt.

I got intrigued by an article on John McLain's web site where he talked about the distance from the end of the tail/topping to the hook bend for various hooks.
Wing length barb hook ratio
It seemed the distance recommended by John McLain from hook bend to tail end was shorter than I expected. So I began to look at other tyers. I started with some examples from Schmookler/Sils website of flies tied by Albert Cohen and by Ron Alcott. I understand many of today's tyers learned from these gents. As you will see they both shared the proportion style of short tails, as does McLain. I captured images from that website (please don't sue me...) and took approximate measurements from the images. I assumed all the proportions are scaled to the hook gap. I took 3 additional measurements:
  • The diagonal distance of the tail, from the hook shank to the tip of the tail.
  • The perpendicular distance from the hook shank to the height of the tail.
  • The perpendicular distance from an imaginary line descending from the tail to the bend of the hook.
Albert Cohen (unknown pattern)
[attachmentid=13429]
Ron Alcott's Gordon
[attachmentid=13430]

Now fascinated, I looked in my reprint of Kelson. I noted the plates and the engraving illustrations are not of the same proportion, so I can only assume some artistic license was taken by the illustrators. Seems all the plate illustrations share the same proportions.

Then I looked at specimen flies by some of you gents. I selected those that were either classic patterns or in the classic style (let's not go over that discussion again wink.gif ).
Here is the table of measurements in units of hook gaps (G)
[attachmentid=13428]

and here are the other specimen flies with measurements indicated.
Kelson's Instruction Fly 1, and Gordon
[attachmentid=13431][attachmentid=13432]
Dave Carne's Carnegie
[attachmentid=13433]
Bud Guidry's Carribean
[attachmentid=13434]
Matt Inman's UGA Home Jersey
[attachmentid=13435]
Mike Boyer's Green Parson
[attachmentid=13436]
Aaron Ostoj's Wild Irishman
[attachmentid=13437]
Dave Gotzmer's Lion
[attachmentid=13438]

So it is now apparent that there is no "perfect" Classic Salmon fly proportion. At the risk of starting an "animated" discussion, what IS the right proportion, or perhaps better said what is the right porportion in your eyes? Is the best guidance to tie within the parameters of the "established" tyers until one is ready to select one's favorite proportion which becomes part of one's style?

Your thoughts?
-E

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#2 Ronn Lucas

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 03:12 AM

There is NO RIGHT proportion. There is a right RANGE of proportion. This is also difined by the tyer and viewer. It seems that older flies tended to have longer wings and tails. We've shortened them these days and I tend to like them shorter rather than longer. It's the old "balance" issue. Does the wing balance with the hook and rest of the fly. If you have a long wing and short hook, hackle and throat, the fly will be unbalanced. Put a longer hook, hackle and throat and the balance can imporve. My flies tend to be a combination of long vs short wings. Height is another issue but I won't sidetrack the focus of this thread.
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#3 Mike Boyer

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 03:58 AM

Yahoo, I've got the longest tail! yahoo.gif biggrin.gif

Peter, I don't think there is any way you can measure the right proportions. So much comes into play
when you sit down to tie a Salmon fly: the size and shape of the hook is foremost, because that is the
'canvas'. The particular feathers you have gathered to tie the fly have a big influence on how the fly
will look, down to the shape of the GP crests and/or tippets, and so much more. Careful application of
materials is important, but keeping an eye on the big picture of how the fly will look when it is finished
is just as important. What I've noticed with some of the 'advanced' tyers is that though the proportions
on their flies are not 'correct', they are the right proportions for the styles they have developed.

Btw, that is an impressive bit of research you have done. wink.gif

#4 Matt Inman

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 04:28 AM

The answers you have gotten so far from Mike and Ronn mentioning the hook style and individual preferences are very important parts of this discussion and probably the most important. There are no absolute rules when dealing with proportion but there do seem to be some constants within most of the flies you have included.

My personal preferences tend to go towards the shorter tails and and think that the shorter wings look better overall though I have greatly change my style often as I have progressed along this path. Compare the two Torrish flies that I have tied, one in the first couple of months and one a couple of months ago. I think that establishing certain ranges would be important when beginning but should vary widely as each person will have their own style.

It is interesting to note that only one has a tail greater than the gap (many much less) and I know that many of Bud's other flies tend to have a tail less than the wing gap.

BTW, thank you for confusing my flies as belonging in the discussion with all of these other beautiful flies. smile.gif
Great

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#5 Dave Carne

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 08:24 AM

Must admit you picked what I would consider one of my less well proportioned flies (a duff hook didn't help - horrible over-straight shank that was just a little too long).

Personally - though not taking away from his obvious huge talent as a teacher - I think the Alcott fly has patently ugly proportions.

To me the best fly form (and I guess the most truly classic) can be found on JMc's site in Aaron's 'going with the flow' article and his 'friends' entry.

As everyone who has suffered my rants on the subject will know, for me when tying a 'classic' (rather than a fly drawing on classic inspiration) I feel we should aim to reproduce the fly - or at least the spirit of the fly - as closely as possible, bearing in mind especially that the Kelson illustrations are crap - interestingly the Land and Water pics by contrast are much more like you would expect a fly to look.

Dave

#6 Dave Carne

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 08:27 AM

QUOTE(Dave Carne @ Jan 7 2008, 03:24 AM) View Post

Must admit you picked what I would consider one of my less well proportioned flies (a duff hook didn't help - horrible over-straight shank that was just a little too long).

Personally - though not taking away from his obvious huge talent as a teacher - I think the Alcott fly has patently ugly proportions.

To me the best fly form (and I guess the most truly classic) can be found on JMc's site in Aaron's 'going with the flow' article.

As everyone who has suffered my rants on the subject will know, for me when tying a 'classic' (rather than a fly drawing on classic inspiration) I feel we should aim to reproduce the fly - or at least the spirit of the fly - as closely as possible, bearing in mind especially that the Kelson illustrations are crap - interestingly the Land and Water pics by contrast are much more like you would expect a fly to look.

Sorry forgot to mention - in my eyes in terms of innovative proportion versus form DG is without doubt Capo di tutti Capo (but then the boy Gotz knows what I think).

Dave


Ooops obviously out of practice - anyway see the last sentence. Oh and that Inman ain't so bad nowadays either (though it looks like he's getting into tying on them pervy big whopper hooks).

#7 arkle

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 09:19 AM

I have done restoration work for flies inset into books dating back 100 + years. One that comes to mind is L.West's, some of the flies were "mothed" and needed some t.l.c. The illustrations of the patterns from the author are very good indeed, whilst the flies however bore a resemblance to the original illustation and dressing supplied in the book, they were in some cases quite dissimilar to both the style of dressing and materials given. These were the original flies, the mounts they were in were untouched. Obviously these were not tied by the author, but as it was a privately printed book and a limited edn. I was surprised to see this. On speaking to the owner, who had one of the largest collections of antique fdishing books in the country, he agreed that this was quite common.

#8 DaveG

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 12:04 PM

Pter:

This is good stuff and thanks for the groundwork!

In my case, I started early in the search for the "Holy Grail". I experimented with many different hooks, proportions and wrongly assumed that there would be a definative end and one right choice. I found that I was able to please my eye using a mix of the distances, angles, and ratios you have provided; as evidenced by all of the lovely samples of other tyers you included. Perhaps by becoming proficient with several approaches, the tier will discover that there is no single correct answer and that one particular style becomes essential only when one considers the hook that they start with and the vision of the finished fly they have in their head.

Apply the range of your measurements to this McIntyre offshoot (an eccentric dressing that appeals to me) and I wouldn't be surprised that it most likely meets that of those I prefer the least


Thanks so much for including one of my flies, I'm very flattered and with some excellent company

dg

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#9 ted patlen

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 04:21 PM

pryce-tannatt refers to the tail length as..."exercising you judgment as to what you consider to be the proper length for the tail.' while describing strip tails for simple strip wing flies..
a little later he goes on to say (In strip wings generally the wings should not project much beyond the hook-...)

on page 142 refering to fig 58..."Toppings with very pronounced curves are not, in my opinion the most suitable for tails..."

he doesn't go to any deeper details...and after looking at his flies he shows quite of range in tail legnths and wing lengths...but his wing hieght's are all pretty similar...low, swept back, tyed for fishing...

when discussing style he emphasizes that the same pattern dressed for different applications will look entirely different...

just some more fuel for the discussion



#10 FranceFly

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 09:27 PM

"There is NO RIGHT proportion. There is a right RANGE of proportion. This is also difined by the tyer and viewer..."
I agre with what Ronn said. I will add that for me it's really important that each tyers have their influence on tying a same pattern ... it's why, a Black Dog (my prefered pattern rolleyes.gif ) could be tyed differently from 10 tyers, it's wonderful, isn't it ?
It's why I like this hobby, it's why tying classics flies is so beautiful ... yahoo.gif
All the best
Bruno

#11 Bud Guidry

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 10:55 PM

i really enjoyed this thread. it should be pinned as it's very educational for the bigginers coming into the art here


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#12 Isonychia

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 11:24 PM

Great idea for a thread, Peter -- and some terrific research!!! As a tier who is much more a "technician" than an "artist," I appreciate your scientific, measured approach. And those of you with artists' eyes have my unending admiration, respect -- and envy!

John

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#13 flounder

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 02:07 AM

Great topic, one that comes up from time to time, but usually not with this kind of documentation. biggrin.gif

Yes, Pete, there are rules that dictate how large the tail is, how far it sticks out from the hook, and not only how may wraps of tinsel to take, but what the spacing in between the wraps should be (yes, mandates on tinsel size!) but in doing the research, you've answered your own question. One needs to take the fly in as a whole--hence the "range" that the others were speaking of. If you do a survey of one tyer's flies, you'll find that there is also a great degree of variation there too--no 2 flies are alike.

I've tied flies with rulers when I first started, and the process and the results were less than enjoyable. As much as we would like to define what a fly should be, or should look like, there is a certain measure of interpretation, and artistic freedom that each tyer brings--for which I'm thankful. It would be very boring if all flies looked alike, no?--might as well take up paint-by-numbers.

As you already suggested, just pick a fly or style you like and try to duplicate it--tie it with heart, not a ruler, and you will begin to find your own voice soon enough!

Since you will not be satisfied with the above response(s) , if you pm me with your addy or e-mail, I'll send you a copy of the "rulebook"--or at least the rulebook I have, there may be others about wink.gif

#14 Harold Ray

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 04:47 AM

I'm really glad you began this discussion. When through, I'm going to print it out and laminate it for future reference.

Thanks again,

Ray

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#15 aaronostoj

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 05:16 AM

What a great look at styles!

But, I think you are looking in the wrong place for "classic proportions". You should have compared actual photographs of flies (antiques!)

I can honestly say I've never measured either of the two aspects you have. I'm not a real mathmatical, ruler kind of guy when it comes to my "artwork" (canvas, paper or hook) I do sketch a "mock up" of the fly before I tie it and use it as a template for my work, though. If it looks good to me on paper, it usually looks good on the hook (at least in my eye). The original "look" or concept for the fly comes from my minds eye of "flow" and what I want the finished fly to look like.

That said, I've also just tied stuff on the hook and let the fly happen, as it may..... Needless to say, it did not make a finished product I was happy with.

The other option I've used is to copy an antique as close as I can. In that case the antique (picture of it) is the template, and I usually come up with a fly that resembles it somewhat.

Thanks for posting this up, it was fun to read!

Aaron
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#16 billtiesflies

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 12:23 AM

Tyers like Ronn allcot and Albert Cohen and myself, usually use 1.5 times the gape of the hook for our tails. This will work for most hooks, some hooks with very narrow gapes, you might have to increse the length. It also depends on the bend shape of the hook, some bends will have the crest laying down more. If tie the tag/tip in the classic location. So in some cases you will have to put the crest on the hook and see what looks good, but 1.5 times the hook gape is a good start. Bill C.

#17 willowhead

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 05:38 AM

GREAT stuff, and it should be Pinned. Immediately, if not sooner than sooner. mark..... cool.gif
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#18 hoddi

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 12:42 PM

I am a beginner and the proportion thing has been very.. very confusing.
I am really happy that you post this. Thank you.

Hoddi

#19 Trad. Fly.

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 10:08 PM

ect.
QUOTE (Ephemerella @ Jan 7 2008, 03:23 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
OK experts, I need your help!
I realize this will be mostly opinion, rather than fact, but I am trying to understand the correct proportions of classic salmon flies, especially those with married type wings. One of the problems I am most challenged with is "getting" the right flow or classic proportions. Obvious if you look at my flies. So I want to learn. And this is the best place to learn, no doubt.

I got intrigued by an article on John McLain's web site where he talked about the distance from the end of the tail/topping to the hook bend for various hooks.
Wing length barb hook ratio
It seemed the distance recommended by John McLain from hook bend to tail end was shorter than I expected. So I began to look at other tyers. I started with some examples from Schmookler/Sils website of flies tied by Albert Cohen and by Ron Alcott. I understand many of today's tyers learned from these gents. As you will see they both shared the proportion style of short tails, as does McLain. I captured images from that website (please don't sue me...) and took approximate measurements from the images. I assumed all the proportions are scaled to the hook gap. I took 3 additional measurements:
  • The diagonal distance of the tail, from the hook shank to the tip of the tail.
  • The perpendicular distance from the hook shank to the height of the tail.
  • The perpendicular distance from an imaginary line descending from the tail to the bend of the hook.
Albert Cohen (unknown pattern)
[attachmentid=13429]
Ron Alcott's Gordon
[attachmentid=13430]

Now fascinated, I looked in my reprint of Kelson. I noted the plates and the engraving illustrations are not of the same proportion, so I can only assume some artistic license was taken by the illustrators. Seems all the plate illustrations share the same proportions.

Then I looked at specimen flies by some of you gents. I selected those that were either classic patterns or in the classic style (let's not go over that discussion again wink.gif ).
Here is the table of measurements in units of hook gaps (G)
[attachmentid=13428]

and here are the other specimen flies with measurements indicated.
Kelson's Instruction Fly 1, and Gordon
[attachmentid=13431][attachmentid=13432]
Dave Carne's Carnegie
[attachmentid=13433]
Bud Guidry's Carribean
[attachmentid=13434]
Matt Inman's UGA Home Jersey
[attachmentid=13435]
Mike Boyer's Green Parson
[attachmentid=13436]
Aaron Ostoj's Wild Irishman
[attachmentid=13437]
Dave Gotzmer's Lion
[attachmentid=13438]

So it is now apparent that there is no "perfect" Classic Salmon fly proportion. At the risk of starting an "animated" discussion, what IS the right proportion, or perhaps better said what is the right porportion in your eyes? Is the best guidance to tie within the parameters of the "established" tyers until one is ready to select one's favorite proportion which becomes part of one's style?

Your thoughts?
-E

Hi Ephemerella, What about the salmon. You never mensioned him. Things like are the proportions right so that the fly swims, legs down, wing upright.Broadsideand across his nose. ect. charlie.

#20 old fart

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 02:08 PM

Every flydresser will have their own way of judging the overall shape of their flies.As you have surmised there is NO definitive formula
for this.
My opinions are somewhat old fashioned(forum name)and I believe that if you follow as a guide the work of Ron Alcott on classic feather winged flies you will not be far off the mark.There are too many examples of "classics" tied on long shank Bartleets,probably because of the fact that they are the only? readily available blind eye hook.The shape of the bend is OK ish so what I would do is simply cut 10-15mm off the shank and re-profile the blind eye.Those of you who may think this sacrilegious just think of this simple rule:If the fly is a WET fly use a WET fly proportioned hook and not a hook with proportions more suitable for a nymph?
Dee's and Speys are a different matter,if you have materials suitably sized use a 3/0 Bart.

I will not be posting classics because I no longer have the PASSION to dress these beauties.
Who am I?
formerly Terry Jenner APGAI and now an old git who tries to tournament cast plugs and flies.
Those of you thinking about taking up this branch of fly tying just go for it,only you will see the end result and if you critique your work well and objectively you'll progress.
TTFN
Terry