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Double Leopard
Designed by Paul Schmookler, tied by Bill Carpan

Tying Classic Atlantic
     Salmon Flies
     - the Hobby

Classic, or traditional, Atlantic salmon flies are flies that originated primarily in the British Isles around the period we call Victorian times, such as the Jock Scott. The availability of exotic feathers from India and "the colonies" led to their use in hats, clothing, fans, fishing flies and other items.

A common belief back then was that salmon, regarded as noble fish, ate butterflies, so salmon flies imitating butterflies
were designed & tied using these exotic feathers.

Today these flies have been replaced by simpler, more practical designs with few salmon fishers still using the classics, but they are still appreciated for their beauty, and their complex designs challenge a fly tyer's skill and patience (and wallet).

Today there are many tyers who accept this challenge and enjoy developing the skill and techniques involved. Some enjoy searching for authentic natural materials, some of which are now from scarce or protected bird species. Others refuse to do this, using more readily available substitutes instead.

Feathers and skins from farm-raised birds are now being sold through retailers and the Internet, and some tyers are using new synthetic materials where suitable. The justification for breaking tradition by using these new materials is that the old-timers probably would have used them had they been available.

New fly designs are also being created that are considered to be in the style and spirit of antique classic salmon flies. Many of these use materials and techniques that were not available to the old-time fly tyers.

Annual classic fly tying competitons are now held, and my friend and mentor Jim McCoul, whose work is featured on this site, is a four-time World Champion.

Never before has so much information been readily available to the classic fly student. Excellent books, videos, workshops and the Internet are a great help, making the hobby more enjoyable.

The hobby is not for everyone, but most people can appreciate the beauty of these flies. I also enjoy the hobby.

Bill Carpan, 2008

Royal Mannix
Designed & tied by Bill Carpam in 2007
Black Dose
Tied by Bill Carpan
Tied by Bill Carpan
Savannah Hunter
Designed by Paul Schmookler, tied by Bill Carpan
Green Highlander
Tied by Bill Carpan in 2006
Missouri Charm
Designed by Mike Radencich, tied by Bill Carpan
Rose Goura
Tied By Bill Carpan