This fly has great interest for me, in that it appears to be
the prototype for Pryce-Tannatt's flies. Dr. Tannatt's dressings,
which came much later than Francis Francis or Kelson's, were as
a rule quite complicated, typically having a married wood duck/teal
combination tied in under the sides, sides of jungle cock and cheeks
of chatterer, horns of blue macaw, and a mallard roof. In short, he
throws in everything but the kitchen sink. This is one of the few
flies listed in Kelson or Hardy and Hale that does the very same
thing, leading me to believe that Dr. Tannatt liked the complicated
nature of this particular fly, and emulated it in his own versions
of the standard flies of the day.
I've gone so far here as to show Pryce-Tannatt's version of the fly,
though it differs only in small ways from Kelson's. There is a bit
of chatterer in the tail (hard to see in this photo), but other than
that, the fly is the same save the ostrich herl that Kelson includes
at the head. Pryce-Tannatt finishes his with plain black silk.
The gaudy salmon flies of the second half of the nineteenth century
became more and more complex as time went on, as fly dressers attempted
to outdo each other. The ultimate examples come from Dr. Pryce-Tannatt,
who tied in the early 1900s, after Kelson had passed from the scene.
There is some controversy regarding his work, and there is little
doubt that he changed some flies for the worse, though not all. His
version of the Gordon is highly regarded for example, and considered
the standard rendition. It's all quite subjective after all. I've
foregone my typically complicated wing here, thinking that this fly
is quite complicated enough as it is. Like many of Pryce-Tannatt's
flies, this one's a challenge. Here's the recipe, from Ron Alcott:
Here are all three recipes:
Credits: How to Dress Salmon Flies by T.E. Pryce-Tannatt;
Tying the Classic Salmon Fly by Michael D. Radencich;
Classic Salmon Flies by Mikael Frodin;
Building Classic Salmon Flies by Ron Alcott. ~ EA
Tip: Oval silver tinsel.
Tag: Ruby floss.
Tail: Golden pheasant crest.
Tail Veiling: Indian crow substitute, and blue chatterer (kingfisher).
Butt: Black ostrich herl.
Ribs: Fine oval silver tinsel in each body section.
Body:<;/b> In two equal halves. First half is flat narrow
silver tinsel butted with black ostrich herl and veiled above
and below with Indian crow; second half is black floss.
Throat: European Jay (Guinea in other recipes).
Wings: Golden pheasant tippet in strand for the underwing. Married
strips of scarlet, blue, and yellow swan; florican; speckled bustard;
gray turkey tail; and golden pheasant tail.
Wing Veiling: Married strips of teal and barred wood duck. Strips
of bronze mallard as a roofing.
Cheeks: Jungle cock, followed by blue chatterer (kingfisher).
Crest: Golden pheasant crest.
Horns: Blue-and-yellow macaw.
I started fly fishing as a teen in and around my hometown
of Plattsburgh, New York, primarily on the Saranac River.
I started tying flies almost immediately and spent hours
with library books written by Ray Bergman, Art Lee, and
A. J. McClane. Almost from the beginning I liked tying
just as much as I liked fishing and spent considerable
time at the vise creating hideous monstrosities that
somehow caught fish anyway. Then one day I came upon a
group of flies that had been put out at a local drug store
that had been tied by Francis Betters of Wilmington, N.Y.
My life changed that day and so did my flies, dramatically.
Even though I never met Fran back then, I've always
considered him to be one of my biggest influences.
I had a career in music for twenty years or so and didn't
fish much, though I did fish at times. The band I was with
had its fifteen seconds of fame when we were asked to be in
John Mellencamp's movie "Falling From Grace." I am the
keyboard player on the right in the country club scene in
the middle of the movie. Don't blink. It's on HBO all the
time. We got to meet big Hollywood stars and record in John's
studio. It was a blast.
So how did I wind up contributing to the Just Old Flies
column on FAOL? I'm not sure, it was something that I simply
wanted very badly to do, and they let me. Many of the old flies
take me back to the Adirondacs and my youth, and I guess I get
to relive some of it through the column. I've spent many happy
hours fishing and tying over the years, and tying these flies
brings back memories of great days on the water, and intense
hours spent looking at the flies in the fly plates in the old
books and trying to get my flies to look like them. And now,
here I am, still doing that to this day. ~ EA