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A fly tying and fishing site by Bryant Freeman, a Nova Scotian, Turned New Brunswicker
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Salmon Fly Tying
A Dying Art
By Bryant Freeman

I have been making flies before the middle of the last century, the style was always predetermined, for use as fishing flies, which were swum at the end of a gut leader or  nylon leader in  more recent times,  not influenced by most recent  publications on the subject of Classic Fly Tying, which surged to the forefront when American Authors took control of the art.

Salmon flies of the feather wing variety were called Traditional Feather wings. Many of the patterns were devised back in the 1800's and the feathers available then, were products of the millenary trade. Today the availability of many of these feathers used in this type of fly are either on the endangered list or are extinct. A suggestion here for those who care. "always attempt to find a Substitute, so as not to put pressure on those protected birds which still survive!!!!"

Fly tying is a growing art, for those who wish to make these flies, I have composed a list of suitable substitutes which can be obtained at a reasonable cost which make the fly look as good as one with the original feathers. Some of you may even try to produce your own substitutes, I encourage this one hundred percent, it will make you a better fly tyer, with the complete understanding of feathers and their structure.

In the late forties and fifties and early sixties, I fished with these traditional feather wing flies on the Medway River in Nova Scotia. They were obtained from Hardy Brothers in England.

I will attempt to compile a list of feathers which I use and some of the substitutes which I use now to try to make the flies look like they were intended. My fly tying days are coming to a close as the eyes and hands do not allow for the manipulation of the feathers which I once was accustomed.

On September 1957 my Dad Lewis Freeman was asked for a pattern for the Fly Tyers' Corner, in the Sportsmans' Province Magazine. Here is the article.
It is particularly effective in larger sizes, when dry flies first replace wet ones, (May 15th on the Medway) early in the season. The original one made was used one afternoon while fishing with an American visitor and resulted in three salmon. With the first fish the body hackle was severed and came unwound and its appearance was likened to a rag, The name "Rags" for the pattern was the inevitable result.
Rags Salmon Fly

Tail-- Wood Duck breast Feather in Strands.
Body-- Peacock herl
Body Hackle---Grizzled
Wing---Red Squirrel Tail
Collar Hackle--- Grizzled

A note to this, it is the Brown Rags which is so effective on the Miramichi, usually a size 6 94840 is used the early version was tied on a number 1 Wilson Hook.(The old fashioned Wilson with the light wire)

This Page Last Updated 03-Feb-2009 04:56 PM 
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