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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Nex fly for me today is another classic, the Green King. This one is very somber in clolour, but have a little silk floss bling that is just the touch of class, that makes this a classy fly with a seemingly simple appearance. It has a hackle of red rooster schlappen hackle combined with tertiary colours and gold rib, which to me gives an ancient impression.

Again my focus points lies with producing a clean vertical wing/throat/head transition, and to make a smooth conical head.



Green King
Hook: AJ spey hook #1,5 black
Body: Olive wool wound sparsely
Rib: Yellow silk floss and medium oval gold tinsel wound conventionally
Hackle: Long fibered red rooster schlappen tied in spey wise by the root and wound conventionally following the yellow silk
Throat: Teal stripped, two turns
Wings: Bronze mallard layered and tied in flat to follow the curve of the hook
Head Lacquered black thread

Knæk og bræk ;-)
Søren
 

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Lovely fly.

That said, it isn't really a member of the King Series of spey flies. The thing that separates the King Series from other spey flies is their use of both gold and silver ribbing set at equal distances. Without this use of both gold and silver tinsel ribbing, you don't have a member of the King Series of spey flies. Yes, I know it seems like a small thing, but it really does make a difference in the way the fly looks in the water. Knox mentioned that to people not used to tying or fishing spey flies, they often look the same; but the small differences are important to those who tie and fish them regularly.

Yours is more a GOLD-GREEN SPEAL than a GREEN KING.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Good morning Flytyer ;-)

Thanks for the invite to a good discussion. You state that the name for this fly should rather be Gold-green Speal than Green King.

I agree - and I beg to differ. I agree because most King pattern has the silver/gold tinsel combination. But I beg to differ on two points.

First point is that the pattern above is from J. H. Hale, "How to Tie Salmon Flies" from 1930. And he suggest "gold and yellow silk" for the ribs. And for me that sounded fun and different, so I went with that.

Second point is Knox. And funny you should mention him and suggest that the fly is a Speal pattern in the same post ;-) Because in his book "Autumns on the Spey" from 1872 he gives a fine recipe for The Silver Speal and The Gold Speal which both is described by Knox with ribbing like this: "two or three turns of broad flat silver tinsel with a single turn of fine gold beading between the bars of the tinsel". That sound much like your King pattern definition - but here named as a Speal by Knox? ;-)

And to muddle the waters further. Most traditional spey flies (here in the sense of flies with wool bodies, no tail, long hackle beyond the hook curve, throat of teal and with low set mallard wings) that have silk floss included in the ribbing is not generalised as a group but named seperate names like Culdrain, Dallas or just described as a Silver-Green Fly or Spey Fly or merely River Spey No 2-4 etc. For me the inclusion of silk floss in the rib is a character that could easily warrant a group description, just like more contemporary spey flies with silk bodies or dubbing or tags and tip or a combination, is more home in the more colourful Dee tying tradition, though not what we would consider a typical stripwing dee fly.

So I will point out that there is no set rules for this group of flies, when you dig through the litterature and that my opinion is that you can tie according to author and thus propagate all the different interpretations of the ancient fly patterns - or we can work to define first of all the spey tying style and then the discrete groups of fly variations within this tying style.

The last approach would do much to weed out the other traditional and full dressed generic flies from the flies that are specifically originating out of a local fly tying tradition around the river Spey (or Dee or Tay etc.) and help to clearly define what these local fly tying traditions is and how to tie in the tradition of river Spey or another tradition like we see it from river Dee etc.

Just my two cents
Søren
 

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Soren,

Good points all. And yes, I agree that defining the characteristics of a spey fly (or dee fly) is what is most important. I also agree that spey flies that have floss as part of their ribbing should be a sub-category of spey flies, just like the Glasso-style hackle tip winged spey flies are a category all their own. The spey flies that use floss as a ribbing such as the DALLAS or CULDRAIN also use tinsel, but they have floss added between the tinsel with some space between the floss and tinsel, not touching it.

The characteristics I think that define a spey fly are very similar to those Pryce-Tanatt gave. They are:

1) Tied on a longer than normal salmon iron, or on a rather long-shanked (6xl-8xl limerick bend streamer hook).

2) Body is short starting in front of the hook point (including a tip)

3) Usually no tail, but if a tail is used, it is short and doesn't extend beyond the hook bend.

4) Body is usually dubbing (can be mixed colors such as the LADY CAROLINE, PURPY, GREEN KING, etc.) and can have a short, sort-of body-butt at the rear of the body.

5) If the body uses floss (or tinsel) for the rear portion of the body, it is only the rear 1/4-1/2 of the body.

6) Longer than normal palmered hackle that can start at the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd turn of ribbing (i.e. a turn of ribbing is any ribbing, not necessarily the 2nd or 3rd turn of any specific tinsel). This "spey hackle" can either be tied in and wrapped tightly against the ribbing, at the front of the fly and wrapped backward before the ribbing (or ribbings) are wound to hold it in place, or wrapped from the rear of the body and one or more ribbings wrapped forward the opposite was to help hold it in place.

7) Almost always has a throat or face hackle composed of duck flank or guinea. Can be natural or dyed. Tied-in and wrapped before the wing is added.

8) Wings are bronze mallard, hackle tips, golden pheasant rump of saddle feathers, or another natural or dyed duck shoulder.

9) Wings are always tied tented, never knife edge or rolled.

10) Wings are tied short and very low over the body. Short means the wing ends just a tad beyond the body, can be longer than this, but never as long as to the bend of the hook.

Such a definition of characteristics makes for a fly with long hackle (how long is up to the tyer and the hackle he/she has available), short body, short wing mounted close to the body; thus producing a hump-backed kind of look to the fly. And it encompasses innovations such as Glasso's hackle tip wings, and the even more recent (as in the last 30 years) use of golden pheasant flank and saddle feathers tied short and flat over the body.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I really miss the "like" button of facebook here ;-)

Would say that your definition is a very fine guide to an outline of what a spey fly is in the broadest sense if it is still to reckognised as a spey fly, even when tied in contemporary style ;-) My only critique would be that this definition would include flies tied for river Dee in the strictest sense and as such is not defining for the original tying tradition of river Spey. But that would be nit picking I guess ;-) For me the more colourful contemporary spey flies fits better with what would and could be considered classic dee flies. They tend to be more gaudy and to include tags, tips and tails etc. and there is a greater variety in wing styles.

A suggestion for a starting point for a more strict definition of spey flies, that could create a clear(er) distinction between spey and dee flies could be this old description that I have copied from http://www.feathersfliesandphantoms.co.uk/spey_flies_49.html
Funny that he include the lady Caroline, which we know has a tail and notice in particular his description of the wings ... which doesn't fit with how we do it today. In other words the tying of spey flies has evolved greatly since then, to such a degree that we could even discuss if what we tie as classic speys are classic at all ;-)


How to tie Spey Flies - by William Brown, tackle maker, Aberdeen

Browns Spey flies, 24th Jan 1891, R.B. Marston, Fishing Gazette

I must content myself this week with giving illustrations for two favourites, the Lady Caroline and the Carron, and some most useful remarks on the dressing of Spey flies generally, kindly sent to me by Mr. Brown, of George Street, Aberdeen, who makes these and all other standard salmon flies to perfection.

Mr. Brown says:-

“To describe the dressing of a Spey fly generally, and not any pattern in particular, I think the clearest plan would be to follow the tabulated form used in the Badminton volume on “Fishing,” when describing the ordinary standard flies, which would show these particular constructions differ in their in their respective parts from the well known standards. Thus, an ordinary fancy fly, with say a wool or fur body, would have all the parts which are indicated in italics, where as the Spey fly takes only those that are described, viz:-

“Tag. – None.
“Tail. – None.
“Butt. – None.
“Body. – Usually consists of common wool mixed or dyed to the shade of colour required, and wrapped round the body tightly. There is no picking out or “furriness” about the body of a Spey fly; and it is begun on the shank in a line with the point of the hook, it has a dumpy disproportionate appearance.
“Ribbed. – There are invariably three tinsels down the body – a flat, and two threads; one of the threads silver, the other gold (on some patterns these are replaced by coloured silk threads). The flat and one thread is wound round the body in three turns, room being left for the second thread, which is not wound until after the hackle is put on.
“Hackle. – The hackle is perhaps the most distinguishing feature of the Spey fly, and the greatest puzzle both to amateur and professional fly-tiers. It is not, properly speaking a hackle, but it is taken off that part of the cock which might be called the ‘saddle,’ or near the tail. The best feathers hang with a graceful curve from the root of the tail down the side of it, and when the fibres are extended to right angles with the stem, they will be found to be of equal length butt to tip, not tapering as in a hackle. The feather thus described is very soft in fibre, and when dressed on the fly, has a very different appearance to the ordinary cock’s hackle, and a very different effect in the water.

Now as the hackle of the Spey fly differs from ordinary hackles, so does the manner of putting it on. The ordinary standard fly has the hackle tied in, or begun, at the small tip or point. The Spey fly has it tied in, or begun, at the butt or thick end of the stem. Having cleaned off the downiest part of the fibre at the butt-end, and left just a little of the gray (as sort of half ‘down,’ half fibre), and having seen that the fibre is long enough to extend about half an inch beyond the bend of the hook – the stem is tied in at the very commencement of the body, along with the tinsels. When the two tinsels – a flat and a thread – have been wound to the right hand, the hackle is taken and wound to the left hand. The tinsel is then wound to the right, parallel with the other two, and across the hackle stem at every turn. When fixed, a needle is required to relieve those fibres of the hackle which may have been tied down by the crossing tinsel. The fly is ready for the –
“Throat Hackle, which is generally teal, wound in the ordinary fashion.
“Wings are generally two double strips of brown mallard, not extending much above the length of the body, and set to permit the natural curve of the feather. The two wings are set quite apart, and are put on separately.
“Sides. – None.
“Horns. – None.
“Head. – Black silk.”

And here's a picture of a vintage Green King fly from the same site, that show an ancient fly that has survived the sands of time. What a fine - and different fly. Wonder how it would be received in this forum ;-)



Knæk og bræk
Søren
 

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Soren, that fly would be well received here!

Just as this was.....






A while back, some of us challenged the "modern" Spey fly, and went vintage.

Great ties came out of it!!

Russ, please correct me if I am wrong, but I called this a Gold-green Reaach (or a Riach)- those Scott's should really learn to speak English!:hihi:

All the best,

-Bill
 

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A greed Bill - the discussion over proper old and not so proper modern speys comes up often when these old patterns are posted here and it's always the same references. I learn a thing or two, most times, but move on. Trying the same old - gets old. Lets give it some time , a few months and we will all be ready for another refresher.
 

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Bill,

You're correct, you called it a Gold-Green Reeach.

Soren,

That fly would be well received here. And even back when Mr. Brown wrote his description of the spey fly style characteristics, there were differences in how the wing was put on. Some did it as Mr. Brown described, others as Pryce-
Tannat describes in his book (which is how most modern tyers do it likely because of the huge influence his book has had on fly tyers since it was fairly easy to get due to its many reprints).

And the spey hackle as described by Mr. Brown was not used by all either. But it is very clear from his description of where the spey hackle was found on the bird that it was what we know call a coche feather (although good quality, long schlappen comes close to his description too). Many tyers contemporary with Mr. Brown used heron feathers or Crown Pigeon feathers for a spey hackle. And just like today when a tyer uses one of the eared pheasants feathers, it was started (or ended as the case may be) at the 3rd turn of tinsel due to the much longer fiber length.

As far a wing length, I much prefer a wing length as Mr. Brown described it, ending at or nearly at the end of the body. However, I've seen spey flies (modern and antique) that had wings ending anywhere from the end of the body to almost touching the inside of the hook bend.

Even back when Mr. Brown wrote his description, throat hackle was sometimes guinea or European Widgeon (which is very similar to North America's Gadwall). And some spey flies from back when Mr. Brown was alive, had a tail (LADY CAROLINE and ROUGH GROUSE for instance), but the tails were tied very short.

In my opinion and that of many others including authors such as Kelson, Francis, Hale, and Pryce-Tannat among others, dee flies are very different from spey flies and have a very different look:

1) Dee wings are tied more-or-less horizontally flat on top of the fly and are tied in a "V".

2) Dee wings are at least as long as the bend and usually as long as or almost as long as the tail.

3) Dee fly bodies are tied full shank length, not truncated like the body on a spey fly.

4)Dee's have normally positioned tip, tags, tails, and butts (if they use butt),

5) Dee tails are normal length, or nearly normal length, not short as in a spey fly that has a tail.

6) Dee's also have normal body hackle made from rooster neck on the rear 1/2 of the body and use very long heron (or other very long hackle) hackle on the from 1/2 (sometimes only as a collar) of the body.

7) Dee's have a drooping jungle cock side, spey flies don't.

You also have the Don flies, which Francis says look like a Dee fly except they were tied on normal shank length hooks and had a spey hackle with barbs that fit the shorter, smaller shank and hook.

Kelson made a very clear distinction for what he termed "modern dee flies". Flies such as the CRANE FLY and his BLACK DOG. So it is clear from his writing that he, and others, did not consider flies like these to be dee flies, they were something different although the used heron hackle like the dee flies.

Then there were the Eagle flies with their eagle hackle, which is perfectly matched with marabou that is not too long. As described by Kelson, Francis, Hale, Pryce-Tannat, and others they had dee style wings, but they were different from dee flies due to the eagle feather hackling. Pryce-Tannat included the AVON EAGLE in with the eagle flies despite it having golden pheasant sword feathers tied back-to-back and not splayed as a dee wing likely because it fits among the eagle flies due to its eagle hackle. Interestingly, the AVON EAGLE, except for the wing and hackle, has the exact same colors in the exact location as the INCHGARTH dee fly.

I agree completely with you that there are many modern flies being called spey flies that really aren't spey flies. Some of them are dee flies, some are spider flies (i.e. they don't have wings and the long "spey hackle" is tied as a collar, and some are a hybrid of spey, dee, and eagle fly. I attribute this to a general lack of knowledge of fly style characteristics and tying history by those who call them spey flies when they aren't. It appears they are called spey flies simply because they have long hackle and a duck flank or guinea throat, and because this has been rather widespread, it seems to me it is the result of these tyers who lack the knowledge of fly style characteristics thinking any fly tied with long "spey hackle" is a spey fly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Some great replies here ;-)

Would it be a good idea to make the definitions of spey-, dee- and other well defined flies out of the spey/dee tying tradition as a sticky in the forum? Maybe with each authors interpretation? Both as a guide line to measure traditional and innovative patterns up against, and also to help us members of the forum that are not yet as well versed in the distinctions to have a reference to point out the actual characters of the different fly categories when we venture into the different fields of fly tying. And lastly to make sure that the Spey pages have a workable definition of what constitutes a spey fly, or a dee fly that we can link to within the forum, or that other forums or pages can link to? A sort of Spey pages encyclopedia?

In that way the forum can help members and fellow fly tyers to find a way through the ever-expanding "spey-category" and we can profile the site on the knowledge base made available.

Knæk og bræk
Søren
 

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I am enjoying this thread immensely. Scholarship is a very important aspect to fly tying and respectful discussion is both enlightening and enjoyable.

Thank you gentlemen !!

dave
 

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Dave

You hit on one of the main reasons I continue to participate on this site: i.e. folks are able to have discussions on many topics wherein differences can be expressed, but they are done so in a respectful and informative manner. As such, it is enjoyable and enlightening at the same time to be in the company of gentlemen (and gentlewomen) who are able to do this while helping all who read the discussions with useful information.

It is also a great pleasure to be involved with all the wonderful and gracious folks who participate here in the "Hooks, Feathers, and Floss" section of speypages. I am truly greatful and humbled to be able to interact with people of this caliber and great character.
 

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Some great replies here ;-)

Would it be a good idea to make the definitions of spey-, dee- and other well defined flies out of the spey/dee tying tradition as a sticky in the forum? Maybe with each authors interpretation? Both as a guide line to measure traditional and innovative patterns up against, and also to help us members of the forum that are not yet as well versed in the distinctions to have a reference to point out the actual characters of the different fly categories when we venture into the different fields of fly tying. And lastly to make sure that the Spey pages have a workable definition of what constitutes a spey fly, or a dee fly that we can link to within the forum, or that other forums or pages can link to? A sort of Spey pages encyclopedia?

In that way the forum can help members and fellow fly tyers to find a way through the ever-expanding "spey-category" and we can profile the site on the knowledge base made available.

Knæk og bræk
Søren
No - Not in a open-public-forum. I don't think it would. Obviously - too much chance of figuratively showing ones ass and ideas coming across in the wrong way.

Nice spey BTW - nothing more to add that hasn't already been addressed. The hold-off from the upturned loop-eye is the one biggy with me because I use harness knot (Turley-knot for example) and I like a bit of room there. Not a deal breaker though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Cheers for the link Marty ;-)

I see that this topic has been covered before and I would agree that the gaudy tip-tag'n'tail flies out of the spey tying tradition is fitting better in the steelhead spey style category of flies than in either the spey or dee tying tradition in the strictest sense. Not that I am in any way against innovative designs that cross over the defined categories, not at all. But to break the rules in an intelligent and innovative way, it is necessary to know the rules beforehand. At least that's how I approach this field.

For me I agree with flytyer more or less to define flies tied in the spey tying traditon are purely including those shrimpy "scuds" on long shanks with wool bodies, multiple ribs, long flowing hackles and low mallard wings. And the dee tying tradition is purely those gaudy flies with scissor styled horisontal delta strip wings. All other flies that have been fished on these rivers that are not originating out of the original traditional tying traditions of these communities before the increased globalisation of railroads and internet, doesn't fit the term spey or dee fly in my strictest interpretation of these historical practises.

And thus anything in between is for me innovative contemporary inventions like for example Syd Glassos steelhead flies. And if enough people tie in to this style we will in time need a fitting category for just that kind of flies. And that might just be steelhead spey styled flies as Marty suggests, or maybe just steelhead hackle tip flies?

Knæk & bræk
Søren
 
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