From Collin Innes' site Feathers,Flies and Phantoms :
The Modern Fisher or the Driffield Angler – Alexander Mackintosh 1806
OF SALMON FLIES.
These, for the spring season, must be made much larger, but not quite so gaudy as those used in summer, vie. let the hook be No. 1, the shank three indies or more in length, and small at the end, in order that the head of the fly may be made the neater: the feather for the wings, the darkish' brown speckled, from the turkey's tail, and mixed with about twelve harls from the peacock's tail, dividing them that there may be six in each wing; the next feathers for wings to these large flies, are kite, buzzard, bittern, and heron's wings. The body of the first fly, called the tartan-fly, is of four, five, or more different colours, yellow light blue, green, dark red, orange, and purple, and as many more colours as the fancy may lead the angler to; for the fork, or tails, use the dark mottled feather from behind the wild mallard's wings, and a black and red cock's hackle over the body, for the legs and head.
How to make the Tartan-fly, — Take three lengths of strong silkworm gut, properly twisted together, and having your silk well waxed (which must be of a light brown copper-colour) whip it round your gut six or seven times, about an inch or more, from the end, which will prevent the shank of the hook from galling it; then take the hook, and put the end of the shank nearly at the top of the silk, that the gut may be on the inside, and begin to whip the hook to it, but desist when you have gone about half a dozen rounds; then having a proper quantity of feather ready for the wings, take it and lay it on the back of the shank (keeping it close together, and as even as you can) with the right side next the hook, and the but-end downwards, leaving the other end to be (when turned back again) full as long as the hack; then go on with your silk and whip it round, your feather hook and gut six or eight times or sufficient to make it fast and with a pair of fine scissors cut away what remains of the but-end of the feather taking care not to hurt the gut, which must be opened and twisted round the shank of the hook as you go on with the wrapping which is to be continued till it nearly comes opposite the point of the hook (but you must cut off the ends of the gut before they come quite so low down if found too long next put on your strips of feather for the forks at the tail, with the fine points downwards, leaving them body exactly the same length, rather more than an inch long, and to stand open and make two laps round with the silk; then take the hackle (which must be ready prepared by stripping off the downy part at top, and cutting the feather across on each side near to the stem, about two or three tenths of an inch from the point, or by drawing the fibres back to prevent any of them from being bound down by the silk) and whip in the point of it two or three times round, leaving the largest end and gold hanging downwards, and the right uppermost, making one lap round between it and the fork, and one below all-round the bare hooky tight and close to the fork, and cut off the superfluous ends of it, if any remain in sight; then wax your silk afresh, and having your stuff for the body, all the different colours separate, the first of the brightest yellow hog's wool, and twist as much of it on the silk as will make four or five laps round the hook then as much more of dark red, of the same wool, twist on the silk and make five or six laps at the end of the yellow; then take as much of green and do it as before with five laps, and as much of light blue in the same way; as much dark orange done in the same way, and as much black as will bring you up to the wings, then fasten; take your needle and prick the body all round, and make it even and straight; then take your, gold plaiting, or twist, that hangs at the bend of the hook, and work it gradually upwards till you come close up to the feather for the wings, and fasten; then take your hackle and work it up neatly between the lappings of gold, till you come close to the but of the wings, make all fast by two or three laps, and if any of the fibres remain, strip them off from the stem; and untwisting the silk to its proper place, make two or three laps to fasten the hackle, and cut away what remains of the stem; then take the feather for the wings, which has lain back all this time, and turn it down towards the tail of the fly, and holding it down tightish, with the rest between your finger and thumb, having all the part of the hackle out of the way, whip it two or three times round with the silk just over the feather very tight, and then two or three laps dose above it; wax the silk again a little, and take a bit of copper-coloured mohair, and twill it thin on your silk and begin at the end of the hook and lap it neatly four or five times up to the back of the wings; make two or three nooses close to the wings and finish the operation with completing the head of the fly.
Henry Wade – Halcyon – 1861
Wings: Dark speckled brown of turkey’s tail, mixed with twelve peacock’s herls.
Body: A mix of every imaginable colour, forked with dark fibres of mallard’s feather.
Hackles: Blood red.
Rib: Gold twist.
Shoulder: copper coloured mohair.
Tip: Forks of dark fibres of mallard’s feather.
The body of this fly is made with each colour separate, from yellow to black.
I love this description from Francis Francis
Francis Francis – A book on Angling - 1867
Tag: Gold tinsel.
Tail: Gold pheasant rump.
Body: Half orange and half scarlet-red mohair laid on sparely, of course; broadish gold tinsel also spare.
Hackle: First a stripped sandy-red cock’s hackle (that is, only one side of it to be used, the other being stripped off), and on top of this, the large blue-grey hackle or feather from the heron’s back and rump; the larger the better, they cannot be too large, as when the hackle is laid on, the fibres are expected to extend from the very head to the farthest bend of the hook. It is an awkward feather to lay on, as are all heron hackles, being very delicate. It should be tied in, to commence from as low down as it can be conveniently tied so as to leave enough for a good thick brush from the head. If in winding on the hackle, any of the red hackle fibres under it be wound in, they must be picked out afterwards with the needle, and put in their proper position. At the shoulder, a teal hackle of course.
Wings: Two strips of silver-grey mottled turkey (the small mottled feather); these feathers are not easy to get.
When the fly is finished, and before it is properly pressed down into shape, it looks like an enormous spider, or daddy longlegs; it certainly is a monstrosity, though, after all, not such a monstrosity as the Eagle. The Tartan is a strange looking fly and is rather a troublesome fly to dress. From Mr. Browns Dee patterns.
Here is another slightly later Francis Francis version
By Lake and River, an anglers rambles in the north of England and Scotland, by Francis Francis - 1874
Tip: Two turns of broad gold tinsel
Body: One half dirty orange, and the upper half scarlet mohair;
Rib: Broad gold tinsel
Tail: A red, gold-pheasant breast-feather
Hackle Over the body is run a sandy red hackle, one side of the fibre being snipped off pretty closely; over this is run a large grey heron’s hackle – I think they come from the rump; they are very long in the fibre – indeed the difficulty with these Dee flies is to get feathers long enough in the fibre. The grey hackle is laid over the red for two thirds of the body
Shoulder: A teal hackle
Wings are two strips of silver-grey speckled turkey. It is a singular looking fly, giving one the idea of a huge spider.
WM – 23rd Feb, 1884, “The Dee Aberdeenshire Flies (2nd Article)”, Fishing Gazette
Tag: Silver tinsel.
Tail: red cock feather.
Body: One turn orange, two turns blue, and three turns claret mohair.
Ribbing: Silver tinsel, broad.
Hackle: Grey heron (sparingly) down body.
Wing: Distinctly marked black and white turkey.
WM - 8th Mar, 1884, Fishing Gazette
Tag: silver tinsel
Tail: Golden pheasant, saddle feather.
Body: Either orange and scarlet mohair in equal proportion, or two turns orange, two turns scarlet, and two turns blue mohair.
Ribbing: gold tinsel.
Hackle: Grey heron, partly down body.
Wings: Mottled turkey of brownish shade.
Hardy – Salmon Fishing, 1907
Tag: Gold tinsel.
Tail: Golden pheasant rump feather.
Body: Orange and scarlet red mohair in equal parts.
Ribs: Gold tinsel.
Hackle: Blue, grey and red, using only one side of them.
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