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Updated: A Path To Tying Classic Salmon Flies

Snowie’s #2 for the Brora has none of the components that might trip you up. There is no tail veiling, palmer-wrapped body hackle, or mallard roof over the top of the wing. In time you can tackle all these parts, but for this fly you only have to worry about making a good floss body, mounting a golden pheasant tippet underwing, and placing a married wing over that. These things will keep you busy for a while.

SNOWIE’S #2 FOR THE BRORA

Hook: Partridge CS10/3 or Partridge CS10/1, sizes 4 to 2/0. You may substitute with another brand of classic salmon hook.
Thread: Black and white flat-waxed Nylon, and black non-waxed thread.
Tag: Round silver tinsel and orange floss.
Tail: Golden pheasant crest feather.
Butt: Black peacock herl.
Body: Orange floss and black mohair.
Throat: Guinea fowl feather.
Underwing: Peacock herl tippet feather.
Wing: Slips of red and yellow domestic goose or turkey tail, and golden pheasant tail.
Shoulders: Teal and pintail.
Cheeks: Jungle cock.
Topping: Golden pheasant crest feather.
Horns: Blue-and-yellow macaw.

Tying the Body
Tying the Wing

Please don’t start your adventure tying fancy full-dress flies with a pattern like the Popham, Jock Scott, or even a Silver Doctor. A Silver Doctor has an underwing of golden pheasant tippet feathers, with slips of golden pheasant tied on the sides of that. The main wing is tented over all of those pieces, and finally, slips of bronze mallard are placed on the sides. That’s too much! A Silver Doctor is a difficult pattern for even an experienced tier.

For this article I’ve selected a fly from Francis Francis’s (yes, that’s really his name) book from the mid-1800’s, A Book on Angling. It’s called Snowie’s #2 for the Brora. The Brora is a river in Scotland, and a great fly dresser named “Snowie” originated this pattern.

Snowie’s #2 for the Brora has none of the components that might trip you up. There is no tail veiling, palmer-wrapped body hackle, or mallard roof over the top of the wing. In time you can tackle all these parts, but for this fly you only have to worry about making a good floss body, mounting a golden pheasant tippet underwing, and placing a married wing over that. These things will keep you busy for a while.

My goal is not to tell you everything there is to know about tying full-dress flies; that cannot be done in one or even a series of articles. I am simply laying out a plan for learning to create these timeless treasures.

Work slowly and enjoy the adventure. And as you have surely heard, you don’t have to finish the fly in one sitting. Work for a while, and if you become fatigued or frustrated, take a break; your partially completed fly won’t go anywhere. Return with a clear mind and renewed interest, and you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised how easily things start coming together. And, just like with tying simple wet flies, once you master Snowie’s #2, tackle the other basic full-dress salmon flies accompanying this article.


Eric Austin is an expert fly tier. His website, www.traditionalflies.com, is chockfull of great patterns and tying tips. We look forward to more of Eric’s terrific articles.

Fly Box

Photography by Dave Klausmeyer

Royal Coachman

Tail: Golden pheasant tippet.
Butt: Peacock herl.
Abdomen: Red floss.
Thorax: Peacock herl.
Hackle: Brown.
Wing: White duck quill.

Yellow Sally

Tag: Flat gold tinsel.
Tail: Yellow duck quill.
Body: Yellow floss.
Rib: Flat gold tinsel.
Hackle: Yellow.
Wing: Yellow duck quill.

Red Rover

Tag: Round silver twisted tinsel and yellow silk.
Tail: A golden pheasant crest feather.
Butt: Black ostrich herl.
Body: Magenta Berlin wool.
Rib: Oval silver tinsel.
Throat: A red hackle.
Wing: Golden pheasant tippet, peacock wing, bustard, red domestic turkey or goose, golden pheasant tail, and a golden pheasant crest feather.
Sides: Jungle cock.
Note: This modern version has a red body. It is, after all, the Red Rover!

The Druggist

Tag: Round silver tinsel and yellow floss.
Tail: Golden pheasant crest.
Butt: Black ostrich herl.
Body: Black floss.
Ribs: Flat and round silver tinsel.
Hackle: Yellow from the second turn of ribbing.
Throat: Jay substitute such as guinea fowl dyed blue.
Underwing: Golden pheasant tippet feathers.
Wing: Strips of yellow, red, and blue domestic turkey or goose, bustard, peacock wing, and golden pheasant tail.
Topping: Golden pheasant crest feather.
Cheeks: Jungle Cock.

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