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Fundamentals of Salmon Fishing Flies

December 12th, 2009 · No Comments · Salmon Bait

Salmon fishing flies were first created in the British Isles in the eighteenth century. Many patterns were inspired by the feathers of tropical birds shipped in from India, Africa or South America for Victorian dresses. Over time original fly designs developed into the classics and their variations. Today, salmon fishing flies continue to incorporate these old patterns and materials.

salmon fishing flies

Types of Salmon Fishing Flies:

The Hair Wing Fly – This fly is popular in fishing for Atlantic Salmon in the waters of eastern North America. It’s a durable fly incorporating hair in the design.

The Married-Wing Fly – Most classic examples of salmon fishing flies are married-wing flies. Many skilled tiers began developing their craft with married-wings.

Dee, Strip-Wing and Spey Flies – These flies are usually associated with catching Steelhead today, but they evolved for catching Atlantic Salmon. The Dee achieved notoriety for salmon fishing around the rivers of England, such as the Aberdeenshire Dee.

Whole-Feather-Wing Flies – The Whole-Wing was one of the first salmon fishing flies to evolve in England, even preceeding the married-wing design. It is an old classic still in style today, and many skilled tiers are taking the art of the whole-feather-wing new levels.

10 Elements of a Salmon Fishing Fly

salmon fishing fly

1. Salmon fishing flies usually have a black hook with a turned up eye.

2. The Tail generally incorporates a bit of topping. A popular topping is Golden Pheasant Crest.

3. The Tag for salmon fishing flies is typically a bit of shiny tinsel, but it can also be floss.

4. The Butt and Ribbing are tied after the tail, but the ribbing is not wound up until the body is in place.

5. The Body is made of wool, fur, floss or tinsel. Some designs may call for more than one material to be used in the body.

6. The Wing goes over the body and can be constructed from materials including fur or mallard feathers.

7. The Shoulder, or the Cheek, is tied in beside the wings and is usually made of feathers.

8. The Throat is generally tied on wet flies, near the head of the fly at the rear of the hook.

9. The Horns are a few strands of brightly colored feathering pointing rearward.

10. The Head is where it is all tied together, if it isn’t too bulky, with thread. The color varies by pattern, and also by the lacquer used to finish the fly off.

Today there are literally hundreds of styles of salmon fishing flies all incorporating these basic patterns and elements. Even classic flies such as the Durham Ranger, the Colonel or the Green Highlander incorporate these fundamental materials and designs.