"Halifax Salmon Fly - Fly Angler's Online Volumn 12 week 22
Welcome to Just Old Flies

Welcome to 'just old flies,' a section of methods and flies that used-to-be. These flies were tied with the only materials available. Long before the advent of 'modern' tying materials, they were created and improved upon at a far slower pace than today's modern counterparts; limited by materials available and the tiers imagination.

Once long gone, there existed a 'fraternity' of anglers who felt an obligation to use only the 'standard' patterns of the day. We hope to bring a bit of nostalgia to these pages and to you. And sometimes what you find here will not always be about fishing. Perhaps you will enjoy them. Perhaps you will fish the flies. Perhaps?

The Halifax

By Eric Austin, Ohio

I've been really struggling with a few things lately. I would mount a wing on a full dress fly, and it would look great to me, but by the time it was done I had no more "hump" in the wing, which was in some cases, bitterly disappointing. I knew how I wanted things to look, but was just not achieving the results I thought I should be getting. I did various things to try to get back to where I thought I should be, with mixed success. Finally, in desperation, I turned to Dave Carne, a tier of classics for whom I have great respect. Within a couple of emails back and forth we had agreed on the source of the problem, which turned out to be the topping pushing the wing down and out of shape. Dave had a solution for manipulating the shape of the topping which he called his "patented topping fitting technique." Sure enough, problem solved. The lesson here is this: Regardless of how long one has tied, or how much one thinks he knows, there is always someone who can help if you get into one of these funks. Don't suffer in silence as I've done for the last month, wondering what the problem is, ask somebody. You will be amazed at how many tiers are willing to help, no matter who they are. Three that come to mind right now, tiers who are in that top tier of the pantheon of fly dressers are Hans Weilenmann, Alice Conba, and Charley Craven. Each of these fantastic tiers give of themselves on a regular basis, and I would venture to say that each one of them have helped dozens if not hundreds of tiers learn techniques and helped countless others through the rough patches. All you have to do is ask.

Now that I have today's lesson out of the way, on to the Halifax. There is not an abundance of information available through my sources concerning this fly, but we can make some educated guesses about it. First off, the way I've done it here I'm quite convinced is not the way it was dressed historically. This was I'm quite sure a very simple fishing fly, and not the mixed wing version I've shown. The original probably had a tippet wing with a couple of strips of bustard and green swan across it, and that would have been it. I did a more complicated version trying to solve my issues, and liked it very much when it was done so I'm showing it as-is. The original fly did not have a topping, but it just made sense to put one on the version I've done.

In the 1800s, Halifax, Nova Scotia, was undoubtedly one of the ports into which British anglers sailed on their way to the Salmon and Miramichi rivers in New Brunswick, Canada. Major Traherne, for one, did a lot of fishing on the Miramichi. Halifax was a fishing destination in other respects as well, as evidenced by this passage from The Brooktrout and the Determined Angler by Charles Bradford, written in 1900:

Between Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia, there are many wild sea trout rivers where the fish have never seen a human being. Angle from the middle of June to the end of August. In June large sea trout are caught in salt water at the mouth of rivers on the artificial fly and minnow bait. The best east shore sea trout streams are St. Mary's, Muscadoboit, Tangier, Cole Harbor, Petpeswick, Quoddy, Sheet Harbor, Moser's River, Half-way Brook, Smith Brook, Ecwon Secum, Isaac's Harbor, and about Guysboro. Southwest of Halifax great sea trout fishing may be had at Ingram River, Nine Mile River, Hubley's, Indian River, and about Liverpool, Chester, and the salmon country about Medway. In New Brunswick beautiful and prolific sea trout waters may be reached from the towns of New Castle (Miramichi River and branches—May and June), Chatham (Miramichi River, Tabusintac River, Barti- bog River, Eskeldoc River), Bathhurst (Nipisguit River, Tetagouche River, Caroquet River, Pock- mouche River), and Campbellton, in the Baie de Chaleur River, Restigouche River, and the Casca- pedia, Metapedia, Upsalquitch, Nouvelle, Escuminac rivers.

This area still fishes wonderfully today. I was recently shown some photos of huge brook trout taken in New Brunswick, in the ten pound class if you can believe it. I'm not at liberty to say exactly where.(grin) You'll have to figure that out for yourself. Here is the recipe for the fly named after the town of Halifax, Nova Scotia:


from John James Hardy's Salmon Fishing:
    Tag: Silver tinsel and light orange floss

    Tail: A topping

    Body: Dark claret wool

    Ribs: Silver tinsel

    Hackle: Dark claret

    Throat: Jay

    Wings: Tippet; Bustard; Green swan; Mallard

    Horns: Blue macaw

    Head: Black

Credits: The Brook Trout and the Determined Angler by Charles Bradford; Salmon Fishing by John James Hardy; Fishing by H. Cholmondeley Pennell; ~ EA

About Eric:

Eric Eric lives in Delaware, Ohio and fishes for brown trout in the Mad River, a beautiful spring creek. More of his flies are on display here:
traditionalflies.com -- Classic salmon and trout flies of Europe and the Americas.

Archive of Old Flies

[ HOME ]

[ Search ] [ Contact FAOL ] [ Media Kit ]

FlyAnglersOnline.com © Notice