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Mr. Mom
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625 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I've tying up some classic speys on size 5 and size 7 AJ spey hooks. Normal applications of bronze mallard just kind of disappear into the teal throat once the fly hits the water. I know the fish don't care, but other than turkey slips, or hackle tips, is there a better winging material for smaller speys?
 

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Mr. Mom
Joined
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625 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Big K1 said:
What about goose?
Yeah, shouldn't have left that out as I have it in every color in the rainbow :D
 

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#&%*@^# Caster
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3,058 Posts
I have just gotten lazy and started using squirrel tail on my smaller speys. I guess that does not make them speys any longer...

The black laced hen necks are cool looking tied tent style and they have some pretty small sizes. Kmans has some you can take a looks at.

-sean
 

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Relapsed Speyaholic
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5,475 Posts
For what its worth I have had good luck using golden pheasant. You can get skins dyed in many fishy colors and two small feathers from up around the neck make some nice tented spey wings. I use these on my Hotep pattern and just vary the feather size on dressings from #7AJ up to a 3/0 AJ.
 

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Pullin' Thread
Joined
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4,694 Posts
Phil,

If you can find some (or know a duck hunter who will save some for you this fall), the small, bronze neck feathers found on the lower portion of the neck work very well. However, it is very, very hard to find them.

Besides, the original spey flies were not tied on hooks as small as AJ #5's and 7's, they were almost always tied on dee hooks (granted not the huge long-shank dees that got up to 3"-6" shank lengths) of our modern size range of #2/0-#2 long-shank salmon hooks. Instead of tying very small speys, why not do like the old salmon fly tyers of the mid-late 1800's did and tie the fly as a standard simple strip wing featherwing with a hackle collar instead of tying it with a palmered spey feather? I.e. tie a Lady Caroline on a standard length #6 salmon hook with a short fine flat gold tinsel tip, G.P. red breast feather stands for tail, olive-brown dubbed body with fine or small oval gold tinsel, a slightly oversized dark grey hackle collar, a 2 turn G.P. red breast feather face hackle, and a bronze mallard rolled wing.

Any of the classic bronze mallard winged spey flies can be tied like this on standard shank salmon hooks. Francis Francis talks about flies being tied fthis way for some of the smaller or more calm flowing rivers. He said they have the somber look of the flies used on the River Spey, but they have a hackle collar and are tied on standard salmon hooks, including some rather small one of 1/2" shanks (about our modern #10's). The Lady Caroline tied this way is particularly effective in summer water, and works wonders when tied true low-water style in the skinny water of late summer/early fall.
 

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Mr. Mom
Joined
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625 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Hey Flytier

Since when is any of this stuff about doing things the easy way :hihi: Mostly the reason I'm doing it spey style is about keeping the skills up. I fish alot of tubes which are bone simple, and don't need anymore 2 through 2/0 speys, but I can stand to fill my old summer box with 5s and 7s, and the black riach seems to be very popular where I have been soaking my twig and berries in the river.

Don't know any duck hunters, but I need to work on my strip wings and hackle tip wings anyway, so I'll go that direction for now.
 

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Pullin' Thread
Joined
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4,694 Posts
Phil,

The reason for using a rolled-wing with oversized hackle collar is the difficulty of finding bronze mallard short enough to be able to tie it in by the grey roots of the feather in order to keep the wing together.

Don't get me wrong, I tie and use small spey flies; however, there are tied with G.P. red breast or G.P. yellow rump feathers (usually dyed black, purple, or red) wings. Unlike Sinktip, I tie the G.P. dyed rump feathers in as a pair tied flat (in the fashion of a General Practitioner) and low over the top of the fly. I learned this technique from Don Kaas of Port Angeles. Don learned to tie spey flies from Syd Glasso and Don adapted the G.P. wing style to spey flies back in the 1980's. Don is about age 80 now and still ties his spey flies and fishes regularly.

Once of my favorite summer speys is an adaptation of the old Redwing Blackbird hairwing steelhead fly. I call it the Redwing Blackbird Spey.

Tip: silver tinsel
Body: black dubbing
rib: oval silver
hackle: black spey feather from 2nd turn of ribbing
throat: dyed red mallard or teal flank (I use scarlet Jacquard's dye)
wing: dyed red G.O. rump feather (I use scarlet Jacquard's dye)
head: black or red thread

I tie this down to #7 AJ hooks.

Another summer favorite in small sizes is Walt Johnson's Deep Purple Spey, which is Walt's spey version of George McLeod's Purple Peril. I also tie it down to #7 AJ's.
 

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Mr. Mom
Joined
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625 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Hey flytier

Last time I went through my crates I ran across some of the gold plated eagle claw down eye hooks the redwing blackbird "should" be tied on. Let me know if you'd like them for nostalgia sake and I'll dig them out.
 

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Pullin' Thread
Joined
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4,694 Posts
Phil,

It still amazes me that the Eagle Claw 1197's in bronze, nickel, and gold were so popular for the old style steelhead hairwings. These hooks are not all that good, are very large wire for the hooks size, have a shank shorter than the loop eye salmon irons most folks use today, and have a hook eye that takes quite a bit of thread to close the gap between eye ring and shank. I suspect they were used so much because they were: 1) cheap, 2) easy to find, and 3) were the hook used in the commercially tied steelhead flies and folks were trying to duplicate the look of those old school steelhead hairwings.

I always thought those old steelhead hairwings with thick chenile bodies, too large and too long wings, and rather large heads (needed to cover up the butts of all that buck tail or calf tail used in the wings) looked unballanced and "portly".
 

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Mr. Mom
Joined
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625 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
flytyer said:
Phil,
I always thought those old steelhead hairwings with thick chenile bodies, too large and too long wings, and rather large heads (needed to cover up the butts of all that buck tail or calf tail used in the wings) looked unballanced and "portly".
I agree. Very Northern California in style... Look up the classic upper sacramento flies tied by Ted Fay like the bomber. You'll get a good laugh...
 
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