" John Traherne was probably the most aesthetically gifted salmon fly tyer of the
nineteenth century. He was the heir to an estate which he inherited in 1859, but he
served in the army, reaching the rank of Major, and retiring in 1865, but somehow finding
time to be a Justice of the Peace, Deputy Lieutenant for his county and High Sheriff in
1863. He caught his first salmon in 1850, putting him at the front of the new fashion for
taking these fish on a rod and line and afterward seems to have fished almost every river in
the UK, as well as ranging widely in Ireland and Norway. A talented fisherman, the Major
held the world record for many years with a cast of 45 yards and one inch and he caught
65 fish in fifteen days on the Namsen in 1864.
Traherne contributed heavily to the Fishing Gazette in the 1870s, 80s and 90s and
exhibited a case of flies at the Great International Fisheries Exhibition in London in 1883,
the only amateur to do so apart from Kelson. It is quite likely that this is where the pair
met and Kelson was so taken with Traherne's patterns that he began his series 'On the
Description of Salmon Flies' in the Fishing Gazette in 1884 with
eighteen of the Major's patterns.
From the 'Emerald Gem,' a riot of green and blue macaw, with a filigree of golden pheasant
topping as wing, to the 'Chatterer' (a pattern which I have always regarded as the
definitive gaudy fly, since it requires at least fifty blue chatterer feathers to form its body,)
Traherne's patterns were masterpieces. More than anything else, these flies are a celebration
of the materials and artistry of the salmon fly and although they are no longer used, it
remains a technical challenge for even the most accomplished fly dresser to tie them well.
Traherne and his generation added the final touches to the fully dressed salmon fly -
probably unaware of the enduring tradition they would leave when they were gone."
(The preceeding is from
A History of Fly Fishing by Dr. Andrew N. Herd, Associate Editor, Waterlog Magazine,
and member of the Flyfisher's Club, London.)
"There are two major aspects of Major Traherne's fly patterns: First, his use of only natural
colored feathers and second his way of displaying whole feathers in almost all his dressings,
instead of using strips or strands. Many of his creative dressings are a result of leftovers
from bird skins, where the materials for standard patterns had been used . . . By researching
in older articles written by Kelson in the Fishing Gazette, and later in Land
and Water, 28 dressings and variations have been found. Major Traherne may have created
more patterns, but as he never wrote anything about the subject himself, I doubt that the
future will reveal any further patterns."
(Credit: Kim Rasmussen, Copenhagen, Denmark; The Traherne Salmon Fly Web Site)
Tippetiwitchet (as dressed by Paul Ptalis)
Hook: 8/0 modified Harrison by D. Paris.
Tag: Silver twist, and light blue silk the same color as a light
Tail: Golden Pheasant crest.
Butt: Natural black ostrich.
Body: In five equal divisions, each terminating with a black herl butt.
There are four tippets; two (back to back) tied in top and bottom of every section
over the golden floss which, silk is the same shade as the golden toppings.
Rib: Oval tinsel.
Throat: Blue Chatterer.
Wing: Five or six toppings.
Cheeks: Blue Chatterer.
Horns: Blue Macaw.
Credits: Fly photo and recipe from Century End
by Paul Ptalis, published by
Frank Amato Publications.