Monday, January 23, 2012

The Champion 5/0

The Champion-a formidable opponent

To the fly tyer not yet initiated and/or experienced in tying classic Atlantic salmon flies, Kelson's Champion probably doesn't look all that much different from the myriad of similar classic patterns. In fact, flashier flies like the Popham or the Jock Scott probably look more difficult to dress than the Champion. Don't let its relatively simple body construction fool you, however. The Champion has one of the toughest winging arrangements in all of classic salmon fly tying. In fact, I consider this one of the most difficult flies to dress of any, regardless of style or intended species (of known/established patterns). 

The difficulties really begin with the wood duck underwing. Because of its stem structure, wood duck is extremely difficult to set directly atop and parallel to the hook shank (when tied in by the stems, not by compressing the barbs of the feather). To practice the technique, the day before, I tied the Tomah-Jo, a Mary Orvis Marbury lake/bass fly. 

Tomah-Jo 3/0, as interpreted by Rossman/Boyer

The Tomah-Jo was my first attempt at tying full wood duck wings. I had no guide to go by, which was probably turned out to be a good thing in this case. As such, I kind of stumbled on a method of mounting the wood duck feathers which, as far as I know, is at least partially unique. I might document the method in a later blog post if I can get a good photo set up at my tying desk. Anyhow, successfully tying Tomah-Jo gave me the confidence to move on to the Champion.

Adding to the Champion's ornery nature is the individual application of later wing components. The married strips are added in small sets instead of all at once. One regret I have is that I did not marry the teal into the wing. My teal was too short for a fly this size. 

This was my first stab at the Champion. I tied it mostly from memory of Kelson's plate in "Land and Water". I do not own the book, so some things wound up being a little different than the original. If there is a next time around, I am going to tie this fly smaller and follow the "Land and Water" instructions as closely as possible. 

In all, I am very happy with the results, especially considering how large it is. I am no longer intimidated by stem-mounted wood duck wings. In fact, I'm looking forward to the next one. It was a pretty good way to spend a snowy weekend. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Ghost Stone Fly #2 Double

The Ghost Stone Fly...what a weird pattern!

In the world full of oddball patterns that is Atlantic salmon fly tying, this one is in the running for the strangest of all time. It is a variation of Lee Wulff's "Surface Stonefly," which is quite possibly an even stranger pattern. The history of these flies can be found on this great blog post from the FlySpoke Blog (which is one of my favorite blogs). 

This pattern first came to my attention a few years back during a phone call with Bryant Freeman of Eskape Anglers. I was up fishing the Miramichi and he was headed off to fish the Kedgewick. He mentioned that he and his friend had just caught some very large salmon on a variation of the Surface Stonefly and they were headed back for more. Last summer, I noticed my good friend Marc had some Wulff Stonefly variations in his fly box. He let me take one home to copy. Here is the Ghost Stone variation I tied:

Thread: Chartreuse 6/0
Hook: Sprite Double Salmon #2
Parachute Post: Straight pin with a clear glass bead
Tip: Oval silver tinsel
Body: Chartreuse Gordon Griffiths floss (coated with super glue for durability)
Wing: Black squirrel tail, under a few strands of holographic Flashabou, under white marabou
Hackle: Grizzly, wound parachute style on the straight pin (under the glass bead)

Top view

The business end

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Popham 3/0

The Popham - An oldie, but a goodie

This Popham is another fly from George M. Kelson's classic "The Salmon Fly". Being a professional jazz musician on a fixed budget, I opted not to use actual Indian Crow. Instead, I used a sub made by master tyer, material dyer and salmon fisherman, Bryant Freeman, proprietor of Eskape Anglers in Riverview, New Brunswick. If you're ever in the area, stop by Bryant's shop. Aside from having a plethora of tackle and tying materials, he tells a good story! 

Apparently, it's a very useful old Standard pattern

UPDATE: A very useful old standard pattern indeed...I raised a salmon on the Popham below (sz. 2), but I couldn't get him to fully commit to it. Fortunately, he had a taste for the Mickey Finn...

Tied to throw!