Friday, September 7, 2012


Perhaps one of the most important things for tying classic flies is access to the patterns. While many images of flies are available online, more often than not, in my experience, the patterns have been altered with substitute materials or some materials have been left out altogether.
Thus, finding accurate descriptions of the flies and materials required to tie them can often be difficult, an aspect compounded by the rarity of the original books in which the patterns are recorded.

Luckily, many of these books are available online as downloadable PDF files due to the expiration of copyrights on the original works. While the books are rare, many libraries have copies which have been scanned and preserved for generations of fly tyers to come

Books by the heavy hitters of the classic age of the Atlantic salmon fly - Kelson, Pryce-Tannatt, Maxwell, Tolfrey, Hardy, Knox, Traherne, Francis, Blacker, Ephemera, Hale etc - can be found at, an online literature depository.
The names above are but a few of the many period authors who penned books detailing their fishing exploits including the flies they used and the patterns for them. Not only that, they are a great read for anyone interested in the history of fly fishing for atlantic salmon. Quite often, older copies come up for sale, but unless you're prepared to spend considerable money on the early editions, the PDF files are a welcome relief.  More modern reprints (as well as some early editions) can be purchased online from stores like Coch-Y-Bonddu books as well as other second hand retailers online for those who wish to build a physical library.

More recently, there have been publications by various authors, covering the basics of tying the classic flies, Michael Radencich comes to mind as one, as well as techniques for fishing and flies to use, Joseph Bates and EJ Malone are others. These books are available to buy, and of the couple I own (Bates - Atlantic Salmon Flies and Fishing, and EJ Malone - Irish Trout and Salmon Flies) there is a wealth of information and patterns for the salmon fly fisherman and fly tyer.

Books by Frodin, and to a lesser extent Judith Dunham are good references for patterns also. Frodin's book provides imaged and patterns for a number of flies, as well as some history and variations between authors of the same pattern, while Dunham's book is more a visual representation of flies (both classic and artistic) including some flies tied on piano wire by Steve Fernandez.

The latest addition to my library is a book just recently published by Michael Radencich - Classic Salmon Fly Patterns, containing over 1700 patterns of the flies of yesteryear, collated alphabetically  with color photos of the majority of them (some of the variations of the same pattern between different authors are not photographed, but the patterns are represented).

Availble for about $50 on amazon, the book includes an ~80 minute DVD of Michael tying the Durham Ranger salmon fly!
The book is well put together, and very visually appealing. I've leafed through it numerous times since I received my copy and I'm always impressed with the quality of the tying depicted.

Anyone interested in downloading some of the classics can click the "Literature" tab above to access active links to the pdfs of many classics

The images depicted above are of books I currently own, though I have not yet read all of them, they are very appealing both visually and in terms of content.


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