Welcome to Feathers, Flies and Phantoms, a web site about both the history of the fishing tackle makers and retailers of Aberdeen, Scotland and the vintage salmon flies used on the Aberdeenshire rivers of Dee, Don, Deveron and Ythan. The purpose of the web site is to share knowledge and increase awareness of the importance of Aberdeen and the surrounding area to the history of fishing. I started the web site in November 2008 and have been amazed at the interest shown, it gets viewed from all over the world, currently the most views come from (in order, highest first) UK, Finland, USA, Canada, Australia, Belgium, Norway, Germany, Poland and Ireland. The main sections of the web site can be accessed through the buttons on the right of this screen..
Dee Flies takes you to a listing of all the vintage salmon flies from the area, including the famous and unique Dee-style flies, if you click on a fly you will be taken to a page that will show a photograph of the fly (vintage if I have one, or if I don't then perhaps a more modern tying) and details of the dressing and history.
Tackle makers takes you to list of the tackle makers based in Aberdeen from 1820 to the end of the 1900s, click on an individual maker and you will reveal a short history of the maker and in some cases examples of the tackle they made or sold.
Cool stuff is a page that contains things that will interest anyone that likes any type of vintage salmon fly and fishing history. It includes photos of fly plates from old tackle catalogues (useful to get the style and proportions of vintage flies correct), the writings of William Murdoch in the Fishing Gazette, Pryce Tannatt in 1952, William Brown on how to Tie a salmon fly, PD Malloch on how to tie a salmon fly, Ernest Crosfield and anything else that I may think of that doesn't fit any of the other pages!
Other Flies - in my research into the Aberdeenshire flies I uncovered some interesting details of other salmon flies - too good to keep to myself. So here you will find pattern details and photographs of flies from the Fishing Gazette, Hardy's Ballina and Scott series flies. Here again I have tried to include photos of vintage flies - but I have to thank others (esp Bob Frandsen) for supplying me with photos of their interpretations of the patterns.
Links and More, all web sites seem to have a links page, here I only list links that I use on a regular basis and would be happy to recommend - no advertising! This page also contains some interesting William Brown design drawings from the early 1900s
P.D. Malloch flies, a page inspired by the book Salmon Fishing by W Earl Hodgeson in 1906 and the purchase of a small collection of flies originally from Mr Mallochs shop in Perth (Scotland). Includes catalogue illustrations and an appriciation of Malloch.
About me - well that's about me and some old fishing huts!
Guest Book- this is where you come into play - let me know your thoughts on the web site, suggest further areas for research etc.
If you spot a fly with no illustration and want to contribute feel free! If you know of further flies from Aberdeenshire that I have missed let me know. Do you know other rare salmon patterns you think should be on Not Aberdeen Flies drop me an email. Do you know more about the tackle makers again let me know.
24th February, 2014 - There has been some real interest in one or two of the unnamed flies in the Malloch flies page, especially in "Unnamed No 4" with the blue and yellow body (really need to know what it's called - perhaps the "Fair Maid of Perth" ;-). Paul Rossman has tied (in hand) an excellent version of it and provided step by step photos which I have included here. Looking forward to seeing more from Paul as his flies just sing vintage!
20th February, 2014 - Just booked a couple of nights at "Briggies" (local name for the Allargue Arms - a pub at Cock Bridge near the head waters of the river Don) for 3 days of wild trout fishing on the upper Don in early May. I have not fished for trout on the Don for many years, so my thoughts turned to my trout fly boxes, whilst they are well stocked the flies are more appropriate for the rivers of the south of England. I remembered that the one fly I had a lot of success with 'back in the day' was called "Sharpe's Favourite", not quite remembering the dressing I had a quick "Google' with no luck. When I was a lot younger I used to keep a fishing scrap book and thought that it might be there, well I found it in there, it was from the Trout & Salmon in May 1983 in an article by Alexander Grant, called "In a blizzard on the Don". As the pattern does not seem to be readily available I thought I'd list it here (I know it's not a Salmon Fly so a bit off topic!). I think it's probably an Olive imitation and can be tied either as a dry or wet fly, it was originally tied by Alan Sharpe (of the Aberdeen tackle makers JS Sharpe) as "a variant for the Greenwell for the Don and other northern streams" - "works especially well when the trout come on a hard feed early in the season".
Body: Stripped peacock quill, although silver ribbed dark brown silk does as well
Hackle: Dark ginger hen or furnace cock for the dry version
Tail: A few fibres from the hackle feather
Tag: Two turns of fine silver tinsel
Using black tying silk, tie down the tail and silver tag. Tie down the quill and wind unto the head, leaving gaps which show through the black silk underlay. This gives the body an attractive segmented look. Tie in the hackle and give it two turns, then finish with the waterhen wing feathers and a black varnish head. The dry version is identical, but with a cock hackle and upstanding wing.
15th February, 2014 - Philip Glendinning has sent me a picture of a fly that has been missing a picture for some time, the Inchgarth
13th February, 2014 - If your are a follower of the Spey Pages fly tying forum you will have already seen the two new pictures of the Spey Snow Fly and Robbie by Adrian Cortes... I can't resist them and have updated the relevant places!
6th February, 2014 - And the forecast for Deeside is Snow....
These are all tied in hand by Adrian Cortes for fishing with, I have a little project in hand to identify all the "Snow Fly" type (Salmon flies with large peacock herl wings). The ones here, clockwise from top left Beauly Snow fly, Spey Snow fly, Dodger and Dee snow fly - I've also spotted a Jock Scot version in an old reservoir, so any idea folks?
Jock Scott Snow Fly???? (sitting by a Beauly Snow Fly)
5th February, 2014 - Another of Adrians fine tied in hand flies, Skirrows Fancy and some Akroyd action.
I'm currently working on a project in Holland and spent some time in my hotel room going through some old photos, some of them were of dead fish taken in 2006, not something I am particularly proud of, but, they were eaten, anyway when I lived in Oxfordshire, England, I had access to some fantastic trout fishing in small streams for wild Brown Trout. I had one epic day during the May Fly season when I cast 4 times and caught 4 fish, then stopped fishing, I've put the results on the about me page. I also discovered this photo of a page from a salmon fisherman's wallet (part of a friends collection - but I did manage to get one of those flies from him ;-) - I call this picture "The collectors dream" those of you who like the Dee flies will understand....
4th February, 2014 - A double Silver Doctor and a low water Sir Charles hand tied by Adrian here, also Skirmisher and his fish. Also in my quest to have a photo of at least all the Dee flies, I've posted (with permission) a Moray Doone tied by Dave Carne. If you have any vintage or contemporary flies that I'm missing let me know ! Also updated the links page - removing links that no longer work and adding a few new ones.
2nd February, 2014 - Find here a new Dee Sun fly tied by Aaron Ostoj and what happened with it...
1st February, 2014 - A tied in hand Magic, with the resultant catch can be seen here
31st January, 2014 - A belated Happy New Year to you all! Some really good stuff in store for everyone this year, lets kick it off with some flies "tied in hand" (that means no vice is used) by Adrian Cortes. I'm often asked if people still fish with the old flies and do they still work - well with the help of Adrian I think we can prove it! - more to follow...
Just hanging around with the Brown Winged Killer, the Skirmisher, the March Murderer, the Druggist and the Butcher! - these flies are tied to be fished with (and to catch fish, not always the same thing!)
1st November, 2013 - Stoats Tails !
Although I love fishing with the old patterns - I do have most of my success with salmon on the Stoats Tail - so having a bit of free time at the moment I decided to tie up a few - Stoats Tail, Silver Stoat, Executioner, Crathie etc.) - I soon ran out of Stoat! - I ordered some new one from a firm that prides it's self on the quality of its fly tying material, specifying I wanted good big ones, the order arrived quickly at the price of £3.40 a tail but I was a little disappointed with them, so I went to Cookshill Fly Tying and again asking for the biggest, ordered a few more (these were only £2.00 a tail), well these arrived today and I'm very impressed, here is a comparison:
19th October, 2013 - Recieved an email from Paul Majeran in Italy, with a photo of a Nickel plated Malloch Fly box - a scarce item, can be seen here
17th October, 2013 - Yesterday I gave a short talk about Aberdeen tackle makers and Dee style flies to the Aberdeen Business and Professionals club, in the audience was David Irvine, 26th Laird of Drum, subsequently he provided me with some further details of the Drum flies and a fantastic photo of Sandy Irvine with his 47 1/2 lb salmon
11th July, 2013 - Bob Frandsen sent me some photos of Spey flies to help complete the Spey Flies page - Thanks Bob! In most cases he has tied the wings in facing forward and then reversed.
9th July, 2013 - Popped in to correct a fly name in Spey Flies and add a new photo of great Glen Grant from Bob Frandsen (also updated my age on the About Me page but thats a sore point!). Had my week on the Dee - not much to report there biggest fish 10lb Hen, nice deep fish, caught an amazing number of Brownies in the 1/2 - 3/4 lb range on the Stoats Tail - very unusual. Off to the Orkla in Norway on Sunday for a week - that's a birthday treat. Will be updating the site with a few more vintage flies shortly (some amazing vintage Tartans)- and also with photos of the Lee Wulff Ultimate fly reel, which I finally managed to track down in California - an important reel made by Sharpes of Aberdeen.
13th Feb, 2013 - Just loged in to correct the spelling of Mr Knox on Spey Flies - thanks to an eagle eyed viewer!
28th Jan, 2013 - Posted a new photo of the Gardener tied by Colin Simpson
25th Jan, 2013 - Bit of a (early) Spring clean going on - have changed some of the menu button titles and reordered - to make the site simpler to navigate - also working on the Spey Fly Page
24th Jan, 2013 - You may notice a new page in the menu - Spey Flies - As there is so much interest in these I have decided to consolidate the information in one page and will shortly have better photos of the sample set of Munro flies - A one stop page for how to tie, photos of vintage flies for reference and pattern details, this will evolve over time - if anyone has any more unusual Spey Patterns please let me know and I will update the page with the details (giving full credit) - any ideas on this page are welcome!
18th Jan, 2013 - Booked a trip with brother-in-law David to Norway to fish the Orkla in July - any hints on flies would be welcome. Combine that with the regular week on the Dee at the end of June it's going to be an excellent summer - I write this from the office in London where it is snowing!
17th Jan, 2013 - Happy New Year everyone! - I've just come to the end of a long work project and have found some time for an update of the website! I've added a few links to websites I have found interesting recently, one of the most frequent questions I get is how to read the ID numbers on roda made by Sharpes of Aberdeen, I've put a link on the Sharpes page that takes you to a document that allows you to do this http://www.sharpes.net/history-of-sharpes-13-w.asp Also a link to a new website that contains quirky fishing photos where you can lose yourself for a while http://oldfishingphotos.com
Also added a new photo of a good vintage steel eyed Killer Sandy's First Salmon
August 2012 - we had a family holiday in Waterville in the south west of Ireland staying with good friends Martin & Tara and on the banks of Loch Currane, we managed to get some fishing in both on the "lake" and in the river that attaches the lake to the sea, I caught a couple of small fish in the river - but 9 year old Sandy had a bit of a triumph, first brown trout and first sea-trout on the fly and first ever salmon all caught on the lake. Ellie also took some excellent scenic photos (not shown here) Here are some photos:
Sandy's first Salmon with sister Ellie
At Butlers Pool - you have to keep well back from the water!
At Butlers Pool - the river joining the sea
Me with a small fish from Butlers Pool
The Innes "boys" with Gillie Dominic
If you want to fish in the SW of Ireland - may I strongly suggest you book the services of Dominic McGillicuddy - he know's his area very well and is very good with children, here is a link to his website http://www.fishingwithdom.com (which I have also put on the web links page)
And thanks to Martin & Tara for a great holiday
The Martley Connection
For some time the William Brown Page has had some intersting letters from a Capt Martley at Camp Seaton in British Columbia to William Brown - there have been some interesting deveopments, see the bottom of this linked page.
21st July, 2012 - Sven Axelsson supplied me with a further 2 superb photos of his excellent flies to fill in some blanks in the Dee fly section (thanks Sven and hope I got the spelling - not one of my strong points - right this time!), the Stevenson and the John Campbell. If anyone wants to help fill in the rest of the missing Dee fly pictures please feel free to email a good photo! There has also been an exciting development on William Brown and the firms connection to BC - expect an update soon.
20th July, 2012 - Had a great week on the Dee at Aboyne Castle, landed a few fish this year including a very satisfing fish in the pool "Middle Fontie" fishing from the north bank - that may mean something to some of you (Stoats tail, long shank double size 12 with black heron hackle - if you are interested) Added some new pictures of the Canon and Ballater from Sven Axelsson
12th May, 2012 - Added some new pictures of recent additions to the fly collection, a four inch Double White Wing Akroyd and Dunt, fourth picture down on the Akroyd page, and a couple of excellent GlenTanas with an interesting bit of ephemera behind them.
1st May, 2012 - Still a bit busy, but managed to grab a few moments today, some new flies for you from the "Belgium Bobby" Geert, the Skirmisher and William Murdochs Golden Blue. Hope to post some vintage flies I recently aquired, including an excellent 3.5 inch Dunt and 4 inch Double White Winged Akroyd....
15th March, 2012 - Yes I'm still alive! Sorry not any updates for a while been a wee bit busy with the day job - should get some time soon - I hope!
5th October, 2011 - A real treat for vintage Salmon fly historians/lovers - renowned Malloch collector Mark Ross has sent me a photo of a "Sir Edgar" fly - I think this is the first time a lot of people will have heard of, let alone seen, this fly - Another FF&P first! - it's on the Malloch Page towards the bottom above the list of flies.
Also updated the Malloch page with some catalogue illustrations of flies and fly boxes - I think the Malloch* fly boxes are very undervalued at the moment, they really did have some spectacular ones - can you imagine finding a box filled with 5,000 gut eyed flies? I've also moved some Malloch relevant stuff from other pages of the web site onto it.
22nd September, 2011 - A composite list of the Salmon Flies available from Alex Martin - gives a good view of the flies popular in the 1940's, also a list for P D Malloch (at the bottom of the page) for 1912 and 1933, I would be pleased to hear from anyone that has other Malloch catalogues that is willing to send me scans of the Salmon fly pages - I used to have the catalogues for 1925 and 1938, sadly don't have them anymore...
18th September, 2011 - A new picture of the Lady Grace tied to the William Murdoch pattern rather than the more common Kelson pattern - from Bob Frandsen
17th September, 2011 - A list of Charles Playfair flies here.
16th September, 2011 - A composite list of Gardens Salmon flies from the 1907 & 1917 catalogues now here.
15th September, 2011 - In July 2009 I said "Had a great email from Simon Runting in New Zealand, he has discovered some paperwork from William Brown (well it would be James Harper at the time) listing out salmon flies that he wanted to sell to a retail business in New Zealand in 1902. This is of great interest as it contains some names of flies not in the 1897 Browns catalogue.... I have some work to do on this." so it's now September 2011 and I have finally done something about it! See it here about 3/4 of the way down the page. This list has also helped with gettingt the history of the Moonshine/Moonlight right - it should be the Moonshine not the Moonlight (Mr P-T - re-writing history again !). 14th September, 2011 - "I have a little list..." I have been thinking about lists lately, I have always been interested in lists and catalogues, I can remember spending hours at school reading and re-reading the lists in the McHardy of Carlisle fishing tackle catalogue when I should have been learning Latin grammer. I note that my 9 year old son has a passion for lists, in his case it's lists of Lego characters and animals he might spot in the garden. I love catalogues vintage or new, retail or auction and still get excited when one drops through the door. Anyway enough rambling, I've updated the J S Sharpe page with a composite list of the Salmon flies that they sold in the first half of the 1900s, I hope you enjoy lists as much as me.... more to follow....
29th August, 2011 - Back from holiday with a sun tan, have made some updates to the Malloch page. Note that there are some flies towards the bottom of that page still require identifing - please help if possible....
17th August, 2011 - A new photo of some jolly Sailors, the Malloch project is ongoing, I still have loads of photos to take - I'll be taking a little break for a week or so as we soak up the last of the summer sunshine in Spain
13th August, 2011 - Regular viewers may notice a name change to one of the pages - I no longer have a "For Sale" page as I never got round to using it! It has been renamed "PD Malloch Flies" and is a little project I'm working on... more updates over the next few days/weeks!
16th July, 2011 - A new version of the Robbie from Geert Werbrouck, Geert is sending me the fly as a gift, but what he does not know was that Robbie was my fathers name, so it is kind of a special fly for me. Thanks Geert!
11th July, 2011 - A new fly from the wonderful Bob Frandsen, a Tartan tied to the "quaint" Francis Francis pattern - I must admit when I tie this fly it looks awful! Bob's is much neater.
THE CLUNIE IS REBORN !
Click here and go down the page till you find the Clunie - modern day success with a forgotten fly
15th June, 2011 - A new fly one of the Fishing Gazette ones from 1886, the March Murderer (for the Thurso) tied by American Tony Smith
28th April, 2011 - Some super new flies tied by Canadian Dwayne Miller, the Skier and the Dr Forbes - thanks Dwayne and sorry it's taken so long to put them up!
27th April, 2011 - I'm right in the middle of a large project with my day job at the moment so there has been no update of the site for a while - However things have been backing up and I have lots of new things to delight you with ! The first is a selection of very old flies from the North East of Scotland - these flies are part of Ian Letham's collection, I have put some images on the Cool Stuff page, have a look and see if you can identify any of them (and let me know!) - Here is a strange one to get you going...
6th February, 2011 - Have added the Ablett catalogue illustrations of both Clunies, and pattern details from Kelson and Hardy. Also added illustrations for the Lizzie and Sailor
5th February, 2011 - A nice set of Blue Charms from Bob Frandsen, also a nice email..
"Hi, saw your entry about the Fishing tackle shop sign in Ballater. George Smith is my great grandfather. The shop passed from son to son till finally my father Alexander Smith (86) and George Smith (81) owned it. They sold up when they retired probably about 18 years ago. Both my father and my uncle George stil live in Ballater. The shop was a wonderful place as a child, it was a saddlers and fishing shop. They had a huge selection of flies and made a lot of their own I think. - Alison Murray"
I have insterest the picture of the shop sign - further down the page....
Brown Cluny !! Another Dee fly for the list - basically a Cluny with bronze mallard as the wing, illustrated in a plate of low water flies from an F.E. Ablett catalogue
25th January, 2011 - A few years I bought a small wooden box from the 1920's filled with the kind of lowater flies that AHE Wood would have used at Cairnton, I have finally got round to photographing them, here is a picture of the box and contents - over the next couple of days I'll post pictures of the flies along with their patterns
24th December, 2010 - A picture of some more obscure Don flies tied by Colin Smith - Please let me know if you have any information (or patterns) for these.
23rd December, 2010 - A little early Christmas present for lovers of the Dee flies (tomorrow will be a special day for those interested in Don flies), a Dunt, a Balmoral and a Glentanar tied by the legend that is Colin Simpson, some detail photos of the Glentannar below:
Quality of material is all !
It must take years to perfect a head like that!
22nd December, 2010 - Another cutting from the P&J, October 2010:
"Anglers were very nervous at Aboyne Castle [beat on the river Dee] last Thursday afternoon as the beat approached the milestone of 250 fish, which would have been an all-time record for this two-rod beat. Alec Coutts remained calm throughout and guided his anglers through this milestone, with the 250th fish caught by Ian Scott."
Well done Alec and Ian - I have had the pleasure of fishing with Alec for the last 10 years - he is one of the best! Ian fishes with and is my brother-in-laws neighbour.
21st December, 2010 - George Smith tackle dealer of Ballater (situated on Deeside) is someone I have yet to reseach, but I should because, amongst other things, he is quoted in the Fishing Gazette Dee fly articles by William Murdoch, I would be very happy to hear if anyone has any information. Why the sudden interest? well the following short news article has appeared in that splendid organ the Aberdeen Press & Journal:
"Old sign revives family memories
historic discovery above deeside shop
By graeme scott
A sign dating back to beginning of the last century has been uncovered above a shop in a Deeside village. It has been attracting attention after the owners of Countrywear in Ballater’s Bridge Street decided to replace their existing one.Underneath was the original belonging to George Smith, who was supplier of fishing tackle and sporting equipment to, among others, King Edward VII. Mr Smith’s grandson, also George, 81, retired from the business more than 20 years ago and the re-appearance of the sign has brought back family memories. Mr Smith, of Monaltrie Court, Ballater, said: “It is the original sign and would date back to the beginning of the 1900s. “I hear that a lot of people are stopping and having a look at it. “It was my grandfather’s shop and then my father’s before my brother and I took over. “We had many royal visitors over the years, including Prince Charles, and they always enjoyed coming into the shop.” Countrywear owner Norman Clements, who has run the shop for the last 18 years, said he planned to put the new sign up soon. He added: “The old one has been attracting a fair amount of interest. People have been taking photographs and commenting on it.” Mr Smith added: “We are waiting for better weather before putting the new sign up.” In the meantime, the old one will continue to attract interest from local people and autumn visitors to the village.""
Here is the sign in question:
Here is an advert from the book "Under |Lochnagar" published in 1894:
17th December, 2010 - Expect a few updates over the next few days... The following 2 pictures were sent to me by fellow collector Martin O'K, the first is a mystery fly can anyone identify it? The second is a Hardy Dee lure in Jock Scott style you can see one in Durham Ranger style in the 1913 Hardy catalogue plate in cool stuff.
A bit like a Pitcroy Fancy (see one of those on the Pilot Gut Co plate here or a vintage one here) the wing comprises a long red claret hackle, a long jungle cock each side and two strips of well-marked peacock, with a topping over
The "Jock Scott" Dee lure
16th December, 2010 - Some new fly photos from the man in OZ, Bob's Marlie (yes, see what I did there!), a 9/0 Dodger and the Moonshine on a well dodgy hook.
26th October, 2010 - A highlight of the year for me - the British Fly Fair International (http://www.bffi.co.uk/) at Stoke-on-Trent is on this weekend - I'll be at there on Sat till about 2pm (Friday night in the Premier Inn, just next to the event, if you fancy a beer later on), please track me down and say hello (photo of me here) I'll be wandering about, but will base myself from Chris Sandford's Vintage tackle road-show.
12th October, 2010 - The other day I was re-reading Francis Francis (not the usual "Book of Angling" but the later "Lakes and Rivers, An anglers rambles in the north of England and Scotland from 1874") and reminded myself of some further dressing varients - I have updated the appropriate fly pages with the dressings, but though that viewers may like to read an extract - I like the way Francis Francis writes about flies!
"The flies on the Dee are peculiar, being dressed upon very long shanked hooks made expressly for the purpose, Three or four of them are particular to the Dee, and I will endeavour to describe them. The first is called the Red Wing. The body is composed of one third dirty orange-yellow towards the tail, and the rest claret (inclining to purple) mohair; broad silver tinsel. Tail, a golden pheasant’s saddle feather, and tow or three turns of tinsel at a tip. The hackle is a very large black heron hackle, the fibres of which reach from the head of the fly to as much beyond the point as possible; the hackle should be wound up about two thirds of the body; at the shoulder is wrapped around a teal feather. The wings are two long strips of swallow-tailed gled set flat, so as to support the fly in the water, or the dun reddish feather sometimes found in the turkey’s tail does almost as well. The sister fly to this is called the Tartan. The body is dressed with one half dirty orange, and the upper half scarlet mohair; broad gold tinsel, two turns of it for the tip, and a red, gold-pheasant breast-feather for tail. Over this 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; at the shoulder is a teal hackle, as in the other fly. The wings are two strips of silver-grey speckled turkey. It is a singular looking fly, giving one the idea of a huge spider. The white eagle is even a greater monstrosity. The body resembles that of the Red Wing. The tail is a breast feather as in the Tartan. From head to tail is wound what is termed an eagle’s hackle, but it is the fluffy part of a golden eagle’s feather just over the leg. In fact, upon a cursory inspection the fly looks like the stump of some feather. The shoulder is decorated with the invariable teal’s hackle, without which seems no Dee fly would be perfect. The wings are slips of the silver grey barred turkey, with black tips; and a very monstrous-looking production is the result. Nevertheless, it kills well towards evening; and if dressed small, and with less of the eagle on it, it will kill well by day. Another fly of the same cast is the Yellow Eagle, which is just the same fly, only the eagle feather is dyed of a bight lemon yellow. I have heard many theories as to what the salmon mistakes the usual run of flies for; but for what he can possible mistake a “yaller aigle” (as it is called in those parts) passes my comprehensions utterly. There is nothing like it that I ever saw either in earth, air, or water. These flies are used large in spring and high water, and smaller when the water fines down."
10th October, 2010 - Hello again, new job has been taking up too much time! However I do have some new updates, a great photo of Mr Walbran's version of the Dunt from Bob F. I have identified 2 additional tackle makers from Aberdeen, not much detail yet:
David Falconer, Fishing Rod Maker, 45 Bon Accord Street, Aberdeen, and John Smith, 63 Guest Road, Aberdeen
Both found in Pigot & Co's National Commercial Directory of Scotland 1837
27th August, 2010 - A quick update, I had a days fishing with Donald Macleod last weekend on the Fishponds beat of the river Tay, one of the pools is called Benchill, I pronounced this as Bench hill and wondered if the Benchill fly was named after it. Donald gently corrected me and told me the correct pronunciation; "Benkle", now this clears up one of the unkown Dee flies on my "must find the dressing of" list! The Benckle is the Benchill. I have tidied up the description of the fly in the Vintage Flies section. (If you are wondering - neither Donald or I caught a fish, but Alan the boatman landed a sea-liced fish that tasted very nice the next day.)
4th July, 2010 - Added a photo of a Vero by Geert Werbrouck.
1st July, 2010 - Changed the listing for Moonlight added in Moonshine dressing and some history - thanks to Martin O'K for all his help - if you have any Moonlights let me know and if you have any more detail on the Moonshine let me know.
30th June, 2010 - Sorry there have been no updates for a while, been busy with new job and trip to Norway. I have updated the entry for John Ritchie, Tackle Maker Aberdeen with more details. Hope to be more active with updates shortly. Close to resolving the Moonlight/Moonshine conundrum!
18th April, 2010 - Today an email arrived from Gordon Sandison "I came across your website whilst researching my family tree and was thrilled to see a picture of a fishing gaff made by my great great great grandfather - Ludovick Grant Sandison." Gordon also provided me with some further detail and directed me to a photograph of the beardy old man - I have updated his entry here.
30th March, 2010 - I need your help! A couple of weeks ago Steinar Christensen of Norway posted a fly on the classic fly tying forum titled "Moonlight on Mrs Higginbotham", whe I read the title I thought he had made a mistake and it should have been "Moonlight or Mrs Higginbotham" - but I looked at the fly and it was not what I was expecting. So I contacted Steinar and discovered that this was a pattern for the river Em in Sweden and had been invented by J.D. Greenway and that he had written a book called Fish, Fowl and Foreign Lands published in 1950. I bought the book (quite easy to find on abebooks and not expensive - and a very good read! - some about the river Dee).
Now I know the Moonlight Dee fly, and from my notes I see that it was invented by J.R. Greenway and is sometimes known as the Mrs. Higginbotham. I can't recall where this bit of information came from - the only published reference I can find now is in Pryce-Tannatt - so if anyone can confirm this it would be great.
So was JD JRs son and did he invent a fly and name it after his fathers? or are my notes incorrect? Here is an extract from JDs book and a very nice tying of the "Moonlight on Mrs Higginbotham" by Steiner:
"Some Em fishermen maintain that the only idiosyncrasy that these fish seem to have is their apparent dislike of the colour blue. You may, they affirm, let your Blue Charm or your Silver Blue hand ever so enticingly in an eddy, or come round perfectly no semblance of drag (the greased line is always fished here); but the sea-trout remain totally unresponsive. One angler at least has tried for years without success to catch one on a Silver Blue; but the fish do not seem to mind the blue hackles in the Doctor series. So the theory does not seem really tenable. If the fish have any preference, it is for reddish-brown and dark orange flies of the fiery brown or shrimp type. Once at the very end of the spring season when they had entirely gone off and no one had caught a fish for two days, I devised and tried a fly as different as possible from those we were using. Next morning I got two fish on it, the other's rods remaining blamk, and after dinner that night. I dressed three more and presented them to the three remaining anglers who next morning each caught a fish upon them. No one knows of course what it is about any given pattern of fly that appeals or not to a fish and this will surely continue to be a fruitful subject of argument until this dreary new world finally distroys itself. But incase anyone is interested, I give the dressing:
Tail: Topping Body: Black seal fur Ribbing: Narrow oval silver tinsel Hackle: First gallina, two turns, then a small black heron hackle. Underwings: Silver Pheasant with teal over and a topping.
This is known as "Moonlight on Mrs. Higginbotham""
26th March, 2010 - Added a new link in the links page to a site that explores fishing gadgets, tins, bottles, knives, flytying vices etc. It's an American site produced by Dean Smith, but features some great stuff from the UK including a neat pair of Malloch flytying sissors, see it here http://www.tackletreasures.com/
2nd March, 2010 - A fantastic illustrated history of the Calder businesses in Aberdeen from Fraser Henderson - Fraser lives in New Zealand and sent this to me whilst the recent tsunami was approaching! I knew next to nothing about the Calders prior to this. See it half way down this page.
4th Feb, 2010 - A tackle catalogue from Robert Turnbull of Edinburgh for the year of 1938 dropped through my letter box today, I had a quick scan of the salmon flies and there is listed for the Dee (spring and autumn patterns) : Akroyd, Red winged killer (which I assume is the Tricolour), Dunt, Glentana, Gordon, Grey eagle, Mar Lodge, White winged killer and the Yellow eagle - so no surprises there. However there is also a list of Dee and Deveron (summer patterns - the following patterns were kindly supplied by W. Murdoch) : Badger, Blue Charm, Blue Peacock, Garden wasp, Geen mantle, Jeannie, Jockie, Logie, Mallard & claret, Sailor, Silver blue, The wasp and Watson's fancy, a few new ones to me in that list - so expect an update on the main Aberdeen list shortly, I've not researched the missing one's yet, so if anyone can give me a clue on the Blue Peacock, Garden wasp and Green mantle I would be very happy!
3rd Feb, 2010 - Been having an interesting email conversation with Ally Gowans (inventor of flies including the modern classics Ally's Shrimp and Cascade) who is making a BBC radio programme about Alexander Grant and the Grant Vibration rod. I have put a link to one of his web pages on the links page, or you can go direct from here! http://www.letsflyfish.com/ I would say if you want to fish with an Ally's Shrimp you should buy it from the inventor - his prices are cheap considering the work and material that goes into them.. and who knows what they will be worth in a few years time (if the prices of Megan Boyd tied flies is an indicator).
Also trying to track down the dressing of a fly called the Cairnton - is mentioned in the catch record books of Cairnton beat of the Dee, see pictures of the beat alongside the Blue Charm.
9th December, 2009 - Added a new chapter in the Cool Stuff page called 'Weird and Wonderful' where flies with interesting features will appear fromr time to time - the first 6 photo's come from the collection of Jason Lewis (thanks Jason!) - descriptions & details to follow - but check out the spear barbed flies... You'll find them just below the catalogue plate scans.
1st December, 2009 - As promised yesterday some very interesting new stuff on the Gordon - with thanks to Bob and Martin - I think we can present (or as close as possible to) the original version of the Gordon as tied by Cosmo himself.
30th November, 2009 - Been a bit busy with my proper job lately... But very pleased to share with you a Captain Walton from Bob Frandsen, also Martin Lanigan O' Keeffe has sent me (along with some other VERY interesting stuff - more of that later) a photo of a Gordon with a brass wire eye, see it with the other Gordons.
18th November, 2009 - The rest of the William Brown Don flies from Francis Francis - Book of Angling - have now arrived, another historic set from Bob - my fav is no 6.
17th November, 2009 - A fine Corniehaugh from Philip Glendinng and a not so fine Dr Corbet (or Minister of Drumoak) from me...
12th November, 2009 - The first of the William Brown Don flies, taken from Francis Francis makes an appearance here (Tied by Bob F - sorry about the spelling Bob!), Jan Muisers sent me pattern details of the Black and Yellow Wasp, then sent a picture of one he has tied, that's on Not Dee Flies. Had a great time at the British Fly Fair at the weekend catching up with people, Philip Glendinning gave me a "Cornihaugh" - one of the "missing" Dee flies - I'll get a photo on here soon. Met up with Mikko (always a pleasure) he is doing great Snow Flies - I'm hoping he will send me pictures of the Dee Snow Fly and the Dodger. Good to see Mike Townsend, Ted Patlen, Sarah (great painings of the Spey flies, Sarah - if only I had a little more cash!) and many more. John Knott showed me a recent find - a couple of Salmon Fly Brooches, Green Highlander and a Pale Torrish, I think, with a surprise on the back, would be interested in your thoughts (pictures not v good due to cellophane cover - obviously John did not want to remove it!):
1st November, 2009 - Gordons, Gordons, every where
28th October, 2009 - William Gardens low profile Gordon
26th October, 2009 - A new version of the Ythan Killer, a William Brown dressing of the Gordon (from Kelson) and the Empress arrived today.
25th October, 2009 - The William Murdoch Don flies are flinished and loaded - I have to say that I have never seen the full set of these flies before and they are very interesting, to quote Bob "Dee flies but not Dee flies" - Anyway a huge thanks to Bob for allowing me to host the images here.
18th October, 2009 - WM Don flies 2 & 3 loaded, No. 3 is very special to my eyes
17th October, 2009 - The first of the 12 William Murdoch Don flies as published by the Fishing Gazette in 1884 is here
16th October, 2009 - I just love the Murdoch flies for the Ythan, Bob has send a new picture of the Green Parrot- it's a cracker! Bob has his own web site, you can see more of his work here: http://bobfly.webs.com/
14th October, 2009 - I just love collecting! I saw some vintage flies on ebay - the photo was awful as was the perspective of size, however I noted some Dee fly shapes so I bid the minimum amount (not much at all) and thought to my self, at that price it would be OK if the flies were rubbish I could re-use the hooks. They arrived today - whilst not in the best of condition, I'm very happy with them, the photo below is of the 3 largest, 6/0 long shank (Grey Eagle), 6/0 and 7/0 long shank. Can anyone help me with the pattern of the second 2? I guess the pattern is something like:
Tail: Golden pheasant tippet Body: 1/5th light orange, 1/5th dark orange/red, the rest black Rib: Broad silver tinsel Body hackle: Cochybonddu (dark center, light tips) Hackle: Guinea Fowl Wing: Speckled Turkey
11th October, 2009 - Photo of Mr Murdochs Fail-me-Never added, here
9th October, 2009 - Photo of Sir Peter added see it here
2nd October, 2009 - Had an interesting day on the Sluie beat of the Dee, the hut was very interesting - see the About Me page for photos and why the hut should be of interest to vintage fly fans....
18th September, 2009 - Had a supper day on the Dinnet Beat of the Dee this week with brother-in-law david this week, bright sun (as usual for me!), I lost 3 fish one which was very big and David landed a 10lb fish - see the action in the About Me page along with some photos of the huts on the Dinnet and Dee Castle beats. We were fishing size 12 stoat's tails amazing for this time of year.
15th September, 2009 - A wee while ago I bought a couple of old photograph albums, the first is a series of photos of a Salmon & Trout fishing holiday in canada in the 1920's the second (same people) a Bass fishing holiday. I'm not quite sure what to do we these, they seem quite important, what do you think? Here are some from the first album: [There didn't seem to be much interest in these and they made the opening of the home page quite slow - let me know if you want to see them]
3rd September, 2009 - Been on an extended holiday, will get back to updating the site shortly. The last part of the holiday was in Sutherland, family holiday so no serious fishing but thought you may like to see a picture of the splendid fishing hut at the mouth of the river Laxford, will be going back without the kids sometime!
10th August, 2009 - Check out the splendid Childers ...
30th July, 2009 - You may spot a new page in the index! And to follow on the Pig's Wool trail, here is a Black Dog Mackintosh style!
29th July, 2009 - Had some good correspondance this week, first from Bob Fransden that included a photo of 'The Pride of Aberdeen' from Tolfrey (Jones's guide to Norway), I have always wondered about how this fly got it's name and if it should be considered as a fly from the North East of Scotland and hence included on the Vintage Flies page of this web site - I would appreciate your thoughts on this, in the mean time, here is a very fine example of a mixed wing PoA...(thanks Bob!)
Update on Pig's wool, Brian has rooted out an earlier reference "Great references. Thanks. I've also had an enquiry for the wool as a result of your web site posting that I've passed on.
Meanwhile, at www.aboutflyfishing.com/library/weekly/aa120199a.htm there is a reference to Alexander Mackintosh (1742-1829), The Driffield Angler - J Etherington, Driffield about 1806. This mention particularly concerns the Salmon Fly 'The Black Dog'. His method is given as:
Wings: Bluish feather from a Heron wing intermixt with spotted reddish ones of a turkey tail
Body: Lead coloured pigs wool (from under the ear) ribbed small gold twist
Throat & Hackle: Large Black Cock's hackle
Head: Dark Green mohair spun on dark green silk
I don't know what page it would be on in the original reference but I believe there is a picture as well.
Since Driffield is in East Yorkshire and just north of the Humber this is particularly interesting as it may be the earliest Pigs Wool reference and would presumably use Lincolnshire Curly Coat Pigs Wool."
22nd July, 2009 - An excellent Bruce now loaded. Pig's Wool! your help required, see below. Had a great email from Simon Runting in New Zealand, he has discovered some paperwork from William Brown (well it would be James Harper at the time) listing out salmon flies that he wanted to sell to a retail business in New Zealand in 1912. This is of great interest as it contains some names of flies not in the 1897 Browns catalogue.... I have some work to do on this, but in the mean time here is a quick peek.
PIG'S WOOL Got this email today:
I have been reading your web site with great interest. My reason is the study of the use of Pigs Wool in tying flies and in particular that from the Lincolnshire Curly Coated Pig.
This animal went extinct in 1972 (the last rare breed to do so in the UK before the formation of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust Charity) and we have been trying to reinstate the heritage through the import and subsequent breeding of its cousin the Mangalitza. Further information on our activities can be found at www.rectoryreserve.co.uk
Recently we started supplying Pigs Wool to the USA for dyeing and thence for fly tyeing. This has led me to research the background to this usage. Hogs Fleeces were regularly exhibited in competition at the Lincoln Show until the First World War.The wool was used, not just for making fishing flies, but was shipped to mills in Lancashire for knitting into very warm winter waistcoats. We wanted to carry out DNA testing on samples of old pigs wool to compare with today's animals in order to tell how closely linked our imports are to the original Curly Coats. Unfortunately I have been unable to locate an old waistcoat for analysis.However, I understand that collections of Salmon Flies from earlier times exist. Some samples in these examples may contain Pigs wool amd it may be viable to examine these without adverse consequences for the specimens. Do you think this would be feasible? Any advice you can offer would be appreciated. In passing do you have a reference for the earliest mention of Pigs Wool (under this name or another ie the material) for Fly Tyeing - as distinct to 'wool' which presumably would be from sheep?
Your help is much appreciated.Regards, Brian S Codling
This is what I have found so far:
The Northern Angler - Kirkbride 1840
Jones's Guide to Norway 1848
Rocks & Rivers - Colquhon 1849
The Erne - Newland 1851
The Anglers companion - Stoddart 1853
I'm sure that some of you out there will get much earlier referrences - please let me know and I'll note the earliest on the site
15th July, 2009 - Not had much time recently, but got a chance to load some more pictures of Dee fishing huts, on about me. Two more Dee fly photos added, the Rintoul and the Red Wing, both here
6th July, 2009 - Back from holiday - let's just say the sun shone A LOT! - will be posting pictures of more Dee huts at the end of the week. Today we have the Fishing Gazette pattern of the Silver Grey from Dave Carne and a picture of Mar Lodge - the Lodge.
27th June, 2009 - Time for the annual trip to the Dee next week, Aboyne Castle, the fishers did well the week before last and OK this week, so hopes are high (although the forecast seems to be for a heat wave!). New photo of a traditionally tied Gled Wing and a plate of Malloch's "flies for Scotland" from Where to Fish, 1932, - in amongst the catalogue plates in Cool Stuff - some great standard patterns, with a lovely Akroyd. The following advert from the same book, if ever there was a reason for time travel it would be to order a few dozen flies from Kilroy! Does anyone have access to a copy of The Field 23rd June 1932 mentioned? - I'd love to post it here.
24th June, 2009 - New photo of the Helmsdale (Gaudy) Eagle see Not Dee Flies
22nd June, 2009 - So many people have told me how much they enjoyed seeing the pictures of AHE Woods "hut" at Cairnton, I have added some more of the hut, house and the Dee at Cairnton - they are located with the Blue Charm
15th June, 2009 - Two new pictures of the Silver Grey tied by Dave Carne - looking forward to the next one! Also added a new pattern to Not Dee Flies found in the book "A River of Norway, being the notes and reflections of an angler", by Charles Thomas-Standford, 1903.
10th June, 2009 - Crosfield and Malloch "how to" now back and in Cool Stuff
4th June, 2009 - Disaster struck and I lost all the contents of this page - luckily all the others are fine! So I'll be building back some of the lost content over the next few days, incl Malloch on the Salmon fly and Crosfield on the Black Silk (sadly all the update notes from the last few months are lost...)
All researched material and pictures Copyright Colin Innes 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 & 2013