Eye of the Guide


Satoshi Yamamoto - Sep 9, 2015

Review 5:
How to Dress Salmon Flies by T.E. Pryce-Tannatt (1914)

100 Years Ago:

By corresponding with my mentor and completing a Green Highlander, I became comfortable with the subject. I knew there was much more to learn and improve yet I felt that I was finally able to step onto the level to claim "I'm interested in Atlantic Salmon Flies". This is not a simple and easy hobby that one can take casually.

By January 2014 I became very comfortable and willing to explore more patterns. Regardless of what I would end up with it was a great journey. Each pattern that I attempted had enough fascination and attraction for me to spend several hours at my tying bench.

At the same time my interest in history of Atlantic Salmon Flies grew. Modern books refer to publications in the late 19th century and in the early 20th century. In general senses, I understood that the same pattern was dressed with slightly different procedures and/or additional materials by each author. I noticed one particular name that was often mentioned and seemed highly respected. That's Dr. Thomas Edwin Pryce-Tannatt (1881-1965).

There are several highly respected predecessors (along with their publications) of him in this subject. It is clear and apparent that Dr. Pryce-Tannatt evolved then existing patterns into a higher level. I have no idea how his modifications would have affected catching Atlantic Salmon practically but for us in modern views, his recipes simply capture our eyes in an artistic sense.

It does look like quite a jump from pictures in the previous chapter, but here's a Jock Scott based on Dr. Pryce-Tannatt.


If there would be a college course "Atlantic Salmon Fly 101" and if I would happen to be an instructor, I would definitely choose this as the textbook and require students to read it completely!!

Unfortunately it's very difficult to find and obtain the original copy. Even if one would does, it would cost a lot!! There are some modern reprints. Perhaps one can look for them at Amazon, but here's a more convenient and a more modernized method = online. You can look at Internet Archive (https://archive.org) and Open Library (https://openlibrary.org). Simply type the title of this book (or whatever you are looking for. You can find many other old publications). I suggest you download them to your computer. If you don't mind sitting in front of your computer and reading it, go ahead. I brought a downloaded file (in a Flash Drive) to a local print-shop and had it printed along with color plates, which is as cost-effective as buying a modern reprints.

I scanned printed-out papers.

Color Plate 1.



Regardless of availability or how one gets it, this should be regarded as one of the pinnacles of dressing Atlantic Salmon Flies. Dr. Pryce-Tannatt starts with initial mind-set and attitude. He goes through materials and tools, even where to set up one's tying table in one's house!! He notes suggestions and advice to novices, which I can relate myself to. That's right: start with less expensive materials and practice…...
I particularly like his classification and definition about types of flies. He first classifies 6 groups. The first group General Flies is further divided into 6 more categories such as Whole-feather, Mixed-wings, Built-wings, and so on. Rather than me typing, I wholeheartedly suggest you to get a copy and read. To me, this is the most concise and clearest classification. 

Overall, I'm fascinated and attracted by his tone. It is elegant but without being neither overwhelming nor intimidating. Then it's stylish and concise. Yet there's a clear distinction between "tying flies" and "dressing flies", which defines the title "Fly Dresser".

I still can't believe this was written exactly 100 years ago as of my encounter!! It simply stands out and sets standards. Trust me, this can be read by any modern newcomers for Atlantic Salmon Flies and be easily understood. Most importantly what Dr. Pryce-Tannatt explains is very practical and useful!

Satoshi Yamamoto, www.leftyanglerandflies.com, is a guide and a fly-dresser in Livingston, MT.

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