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Green Highlander
Tied by Bill Carpan

Most people enjoy making something with their hands. We use wood, clay, thread, fabric, yarn, paint, foodstuffs and many other materials to produce artistic and practical items. Such Items become valuable memorabilia, like “This sweater was made for my mother by my grandmother”, or “Our family’s rocking chair has rocked 7 generations of babies”, as I was told by an English lady last summer.


Fly tying is another example, a satisfying and rewarding hobby for many of us. The hobby is growing, following the rapid growth of fly fishing around the globe. Most flies are tied to fish with, but for some, there is no greater joy in fly tying than to lose ourselves in the past for a day or so – tying an artistic classic Atlantic Salmon fly.


Recently Bob MacDonald of Mulgrave and I took such a day to each tie a Green Highlander, a highly praised wet salmon fly from the latter part of the 19th century. This dressing is adapted from the pattern presented in Dr. T. E. Pryce-Tannatt’s book “How to Dress Salmon Flies”  (1914). The photo shows my Green Highlander, still in the vice, almost completed. The fly is on display at River Magic in Stillwater.


Green Highlander


Tag                   Silver Tinsel

Tail                   A topping (golden pheasant crest) and barred summer duck (wood duck)

Butt                  Black ostrich herl

Body                 First quarter, golden yellow floss, remainder bright green seal fur (or floss silk)

Ribs                  Oval silver tinsel

Hackle              A grass-green cock’s hackle (palmered over the green part of the body)

Throat               A lemon cock’s hackle (we preferred a soft hen hackle)

Wings               Golden pheasant tippets as an underwing, married sections of yellow, orange and green swan, florican, peacock wing and golden pheasant tail; outside of this, married sections of teal flank and barred summer duck; narrow sections of brown mallard over and a topping.

Sides                Jungle cock

Cheeks             Indian crow substitute

Horns                Blue & Yellow macaw

Head                 Black