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A new flame

By Duncan Egan

Duncan Egan ties his hot salmon fly, the Flamethrower


Tying the Flamethrower


  • 1.

    1.

    Start your thread half way along the shank. On Salar hooks the shank is a continuous bend, to work out which bit of the hook you will be covering look at the way the legs of the double split – where they separate is the end of the shank – which leaves quite a short tying area.

  • 2.

    2.

    As you wind the thread towards the bend tie in a few inches of silver oval and then a length of holographic tinsel.

  • 3.

    3.

    Wind the thread forwards to the half-way point. Wind the holographic tinsel forwards in overlapping turns and tie down with two or three turns of thread. Start the rib by winding three touching turns of oval and then make three evenly spaced ribbing turns along to the thread. Tie down and trim away the waste.

  • 4.

    4.

    Select a large cock hackle. I use either strung cock saddle hackles (from Veniard) or large feathers from the thick end of neck capes. The fibres should be at least as long as the hook (or longer) so they stick out well beyond the bend.

  • 5.

    5.

    Strip off the soft stuff at the base of the feather and tie in the stem. As you wind the hackle forwards use your thumb and forefinger to sweep the fibres back towards the hook bend.

  • 6.

    6.

    About six turns of hackle is plenty. Trim and then tidy things up with a few turns of thread.

  • 7.

    7.

    Sort a sparse bunch of bucktail and place two or three strands of Mirage Accent on top. Judge the tail against the hook, the tail should be no longer than the hook shank. Tie the bunch on top of the hook and wind your thread forwards making sure the wing is secure. TIP – I don’t spend much time trying to line up the tips of my bucktail, because I want the natural taper and it makes tying quicker. Just ease the bunch out at 90? to the skin, hold the tips and cut – then brush out the short fibres.

  • 8.

    8.

    Once the wing is in place and well tied down trim the butts at an angle, leaving space for the head hackles. Tie in a length of black floss and wind a short front body.

  • 9.

    9.

    First head hackle - about the same length as the hook shank. Again clean away the barbs at the base of the feather and tie in by the stem. Make three turns of hackle. As before, sweep the fibres back as you wind the hackle forwards. Tie down the hackle and trim the waste. TIP – I want a translucent effect so I use the glossy hackle barbs nearer the tip of the hackles. And that bit of the feather makes for neater tying because the stem there is thinner.

  • 10.

    10.

    Second head hackle – you may be getting very close to the eye at this point. The front hackle needs a couple of turns, so look for a fine stemmed hackle and then only use the thinnest stem near the tip of the feather. Again, choose a feather with barbs about the same length as the hook shank – hackle technique as before – two turns are enough. Tie down the hackle and trim the waste.

  • 11.

    11.

    To tidy the hackle, stroke back all the fibres and hold the bunch. WInd your thread back on to the hackle and form a short smooth thread-base. The next two steps are optional – if you are not putting cheeks on your fly wrap a small head and whip finish. TIP – If you tie in jungle-cock cheeks in front of the hackle they will almost always flare out because they press against the hackle stem. By winding the thread back onto the hackle and then applying the cheeks the jungle cock eyes are pinched in towards the hook shank – more attractive and more durable.

  • 12.

    12.

    Pick a pair of matching jungle cock eyes. To get an idea of size hold them up to the fly, the tying in point is on the second black bar. I like jungle cock to extend the full length of the body. Prepare these by gently stripping off the flue at the base. Place the cheek-feather against the hackle – I like the jungle cock to match the angle of the wing. Tie in with one or two turns of thread. Repeat on the other side. Trim off any waste, build a small neat head and whip finish.

  • 13.

    13.

    For a pearl head. With a fine pearl tinsel in a bobbin holder wrap the tinsel on and then whip finish covering the thread with tinsel. Five or six turns should cover the lot. Trim and varnish.


Fed up with Ally’s Shrimps? Flamethrowers have completely replaced Ally’s in my fly box. My general purpose salmon fly and has worked well. Over the past few years Flamethrowers have accounted for 40 fish to my rod ,and the flies I’ve supplied to a few friends and gillies have landed more than 200 fish from all the well known Scottish salmon rivers.

The basic design is simple - a few long cock hackles, a bit of bucktail and a simple body. And, because I like them, a couple of jungle cock cheeks and a pearl head. Tying is not difficult, although the style might take a little getting used to.

The fairly heavy glossy hackles surround a bright silver hook and a short gleaming silver body. The hackles breathe and pulse in water, opening to give glimpses of the flashing hook and body. As it swings round in the current it flickers like a little flame – to me anyway – hence the name.

I fish Flamethrowers throughout the year, in larger sizes when the water is cold, smaller when it warms. In really cold water or if the water is coloured, I switch to the yellow version. And if the orange fails and I’m sure fish are in the water I switch to the red version.

Variations:
Red Flamethrower

As above except:
Rear hackle: Red cock.
Wing: Red bucktail under three strands of pearl Mirage Accent.
Front hackles: Red cock then yellow cock.

Yellow Flamethrower
As above except:
Rear hackle: Yellow cock.
Wing: Yellow bucktail under three strands of pearl Mirage Accent.
Front hackles: Yellow cock then hot orange cock.

Factfile


3 tips for tying the Flamethrower:

  1. 1. I don’t spend much time trying to line up the tips of my bucktail, because I want the natural taper and it makes tying quicker. Just ease the bunch out at 90? to the skin, hold the tips and cut – then brush out the short fibres.
  2. 2. I want a translucent effect so I use the glossy hackle barbs nearer the tip of the hackles. And that bit of the feather makes for neater tying because the stem there is thinner.
  3. 3. If you tie in jungle-cock cheeks in front of the hackle they will almost always flare out because they press against the hackle stem. By winding the thread back onto the hackle and then applying the cheeks the jungle cock eyes are pinched in towards the hook shank – more attractive and more durable.

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