This fly is notable for the rare materials
used. The tail, especially, is made from
the neck feathers of the New Guinea Golden
Bird of Paradise. According to George Kelson,
these made by far the most superior hackles.
They wouldn't fade, and were quite tough. As
highly as he thought of these, he seldom used
them in his own creations, this being an
In addition to the golden bird of paradise
tail, the fly has a throat made from white
heron feathers dyed light blue. Both materials
are very difficult to obtain in this day and
age, and I enlisted the aid of four friends
to help. I wanted Amherst pheasant crest for
the topping, to better match the tail, another
difficult material to find. This fly is one
of the better examples of a fly wherein the
difficulty lies in finding the materials,
rather than the tying. Mikael Frodin says
"To ensure bright clean colours[sic] it was
necessary to use completely white heron hackles
and these feathers were to be found on the
completely white and egret herons, which were
much rarer birds than the more common grey and
black herons. A certain amount of skill was also
needed to dye these delicate heron hackles."
Well, I'm not sure how much skill is required
today. I used Kool-Aid.
I'd like to thank some good friends with their
help with this fly. The hook was sent to me by
Alan Goodwin of Scotland, A.K.A. Alan the
Highlander. Help with the material hunt was
provided by Ed Gallop, Jack Montague, and John
McLain. I'm sure that I couldn't have come
close on this fly without their generosity
The Silver Ardea was one of George Kelson's
own creations, and both John James Hardy and
J.H. Hale saw fit to include the fly in their
own books, leaving off the ostrich herl head.
Kelson also created a fly called the Black
Ardea, which is identical, save the body is
black floss rather than silver tinsel. Here's
the recipe for the Silver Ardea:
Tag: Silver twist and yellow silk.
~ Eric Austin
Tail: Golden bird of paradise.
Body: Silver Tinsel (flat).
Ribs: Silver tinsel (oval).
Hackle: Bright red-claret (a white
coch-y-bondhu dyed in "cardinal" 2288,
Wolley & Co, Manchester)
Throat: White heron, dyed light blue.
Wings: (mixed) peacock wing, bustard,
golden pheasant tail, Amhurst [sic] pheasant
tail black and white mottled turkey, red macaw,
swan dyed yellow and blue and a topping.
Sides: Jungle cock.
Head: Black ostrich herl.
Credits: Classic Salmon Flies by
Mikael Frodin; The Salmon Fly by George