- 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Today these flies have been replaced by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).
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.
fly tying competitons are now held, and my friend and mentor Jim McCoul, whose work is featured on this site, is a four-time
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.