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Ross Eagle
Yellow Eagle

Fly Like an Eagle – Part 2


Imagine 3 anglers fishing a gorgeous Margaree fall salmon pool in sequence, each sporting a brassy modern marabou salmon fly – a Grape, a Slime, and a Cardinelle. The salmon are witnessing, at least visually, a show rivaling a Mardi Gras parade!


Oh well, at times salmon do seem to like partying, dancing and splashing about.


Last week we saw that marabou salmon flies had their beginnings in the eagle series, the earliest of which was created in the mid-1800s. The series includes the Grey Eagle and Yellow Eagle, likely the first, the Avon Eagle, Brown Eagle, Floodtide, Golden Eagle, Nightshade, Quilled Eagle, Scarlet Eagle, Speckled Eagle and another Yellow Eagle.


The Grey Eagle and Yellow Eagle appeared in Francis Francis’s A Book on Angling, 1867. The author was editor of the influential British sporting magazine, The Field, and the most noted angler of his day. A review of his classic book states, “His fly patterns are specific imitations as muted and as modern as anything of today, and the information is as pertinent now as it was in 1867.”


Francis states “We might liken some flies to shrimps or prawns, and others to butterflies and dragon-flies, the Eagle completely knocks all such possibilities on the head, as it is like nothing on, over, or under the earth or water that I know of.”


Francis’s observation supports my view that a fly’s most important attribute is to appear alive, even if unfamiliar. We all know that soft, super mobile marabou imparts a lifelike quality to our flies. So, I decided to tie a modern Margaree hairwing salmon fly, the Ross Special, as an eagle.


Let’s call it the Ross Eagle. For comparison, I also tied the original Yellow Eagle from the mid-1800s.


Ross  Eagle


Hook:     Bartleet Traditional salmon hook, size 2/0

Tag:        Fine oval silver tinsel, then pumpkin floss

Tail:        2 golden pheasant crests

Rib:        Oval silver tinsel

Body:    Red Antron wool

Hackle:  Yellow marabou

Wing:     Fox squirrel

Sides:    Jungle cock

Head:     Black, finished with 2 coats of super-glossy Angler’s Corner Wet Head Cement


Yellow Eagle


Tag:      Silver tinsel

Tail:      Golden pheasant crest and the tip of a golden pheasant's breast feather

Body:    In equal sections of lemon, bright orange, scarlet and fiery brown seal's fur (or equivalent).

             Body is dressed sparse, but well picked out.

Rib:       Broad silver tinsel and twist

Hackle:  An Eagle's hackle (or substitute such as turkey marabou) with one side stripped, dyed yellow.

Throat:   Widgeon (substitutes are mallard, teal or gadwall flank – ed.)

Wing:     A pair of light, mottled grey turkey tail strips, set flat.

Sides:     Jungle cock

Topping: Two to three golden pheasant crests (omitted in fly shown)


Source:   T.E. Pryce-Tannatt (1914) How to Dress Salmon Flies. London: Adam and Charles Black..


Please send comments and suggestions to slim@rivermagic.ca


Please stay on the line …