Welcome to Fly fishing and Fly Tying magazine's website, once you register, you'll gain access to the Blogs, Forum and Shop.

If you cannot register successfully, contact us.

Member Login

Lost your password?

Search This Site

The Copper Tom

By Mick Huffer

The Copper Tom is an emerging Tay pattern which bucks the trend on body colour, but still catches the salmon's eye.

Tying the Copper Tom

  • 1. Hook is Partridge Patriot 8 double. Crank vice jaws diagonally to hold hook-shank straight.

  • 2. Thread is red, tie on and catch in silver oval on underside of shank as you run thread down.

  • 3. Take thread to level with point of hook. Now wind four turns of tag down shank

  • 4. Then bring end, between hook 'legs' over the turns and tie down directly in front.

  • 5. Trim excess, so stub is length of body.

  • 6. Tail is a bunch of hot orange bucktail.

  • 7. Align ends, then tie in on top of shank, 1.5 - 2 times the hook-length. Take one pearl Twinkle strand, double it, and tie in to form two strands of Twinkle sitting over top of tail.

  • 8. Trim all stubs to length of body. Now tie in single strand of Glo-Brite No.4 floss. Tie in on underneath of shank, just two turn-widths in front of tail.

  • 9. Wind down to tail and back to thread to form a small butt.

  • 10. Tie off and trim excess. Tie in rib again, on underside of shank, just in front of the butt.

  • 11. Take thread forward, tidying up under-body. Body is a length of holographic copper (UTC).

  • 12. Catch in halfway down, wind down body....

  • 13. …then return and catch off with thread.

  • 14. The front half of body is black floss. Tie in at the halfway point.


    Mick’s tip: This pattern involves many steps at the front end; leave lots of room at eye.

  • 15. …then wind forwards, and catch off at front with thread.

  • 16. Rib whole body with 4-5 turns.

  • 17. Tie off, trim. Shoulder hackle is fluorescent fire-orange cock hackle, barb length to point of hook. Trim out the tip.

  • 18. Hold fibres back between finger and thumb, allowing 5-6 fibres at end to spring forwards. Trim these close to the stem to create 'barbed' effect. Mick’s tip: This makes for a more secure tie-in.

  • 19. Tie in on top of shank, good side upwards.

  • 20. Hold feather vertically and grip butt in hackle pliers and 'fold' hackles backwards using finger and thumb.

  • 21. Wind forwards, making 3 turns, continuing to fold fibres to rear.

  • 22. Tie off and trap down with thread, with hackle held vertically. Trim excess hackle.

  • 23. Prepare the fluorescent orange front hackle in the same way and tie in.

  • 24. Fold and wind hackle, two turns, tie off.

  • 25. Next is guinea fowl, barb length similar to other hackles. Prepare hackle for tying in conventionally.

  • 26. Tie in by stalk, hackle lying over the rest of fly, good side upwards.

  • 27. Grip tip in hackle pliers, make one full turn, catch down with thread.

  • 28. Trim excess guinea fowl. Wing is two medium sized jungle cock feathers.

  • 29. Pluck from cape, strip lower fibres up to first enamelled part of feather.

  • 30. Tie in so feather it sits on top of fly, just to side, and lifts slightly.

  • 31. Tie in second jungle cock to match on other side. Allow to kick up slightly. The two jungle feathers and head should end up looking like Mickey Mouse ears.

  • 32. Trim excess jungle cock butts. Whip-finish red thread. Now tie on Glo-Brite No.4 mounted on a bobbin.

  • 33. Form a head of the Glo-Brite floss, whip-finish. Varnish.

The Copper Tom

Hook: Partridge Salar size 9 or Patriot size 8 Salmon Double or similar.
Tying thread: Veevus 12/0 red or similar micro-thread.
Tag: Fine silver oval or silver wire, 4-6 turns.
Tail: Ultra hot orange bucktail – lightly dressed. 2 strands of Pearl Crystal Hair.
Butt: Glo-Brite fluorescent floss - Red No.4.
Rib: Fine silver oval.
Body: Rear half – copper (darkish orange) holographic foil; Front half – flat black floss.
Shoulder hackles: Fluorescent fire orange hen or webby cock hackle, 3-4 turns; fluorescent orange hen hackle or webby cock hackle, 2-3 turns; blue guinea fowl, 1 turn.
Cheeks: 2 jungle cock feathers.
Head: Glo-Brite fluorescent floss - Red No.4.

Hackles - If you can’t get hold of the appropriate coloured hen hackle capes, - and these aren’t always available - you can use cock capes which have a softer/webby type hackle barb, typically used for dressing wet fly patterns.

This is a very well-devised shrimp pattern by Tomas Kolesinskas. It follows the current fashion for lightly dressed shrimp patterns, which I very much like and favour. It also incorporates some of the almost obligatory and trendy fluorescent colours and flashy man-made materials, but in a reserved way, which again I like. This is a well thought through pattern in all respects, and it incorporates a number of key triggers.

Tomas told me he developed this pattern two years ago whilst on a week’s fishing trip with a friend. Following a day on the bank he decided to sit in the evening and tie a few flies for the following day. “I was simply playing around at the vice and thinking about colours and materials. I had a glass or three of red wine and I was thinking about what colours and style might be successful in interesting a salmon. What I came up with was the Copper Tom Shrimp and on its first outing, the very next day in fact, my friend caught four salmon and I had two, and all on this pattern – some Christening!”

Tomas says: “The copper coloured holographic body colour came about given the success of copper spoons. I think copper is by far the most effective colour, and, the fluorescent red butt and head simply add a touch of extra colour. I use this red to accentuate colour in a number of my other patterns, too.

The blue guinea fowl adds a little more colour and I particularly like this blue in patterns I use in the summer. I tie the jungle cock feathers on top of the shank, as in this position I find they provide more flickering movement to a fly, especially ones tied on smaller hooks.

As a pattern it’s turned out to be very effective and it’s taking fish wherever it’s being fished, including Scotland, England, Ireland, Norway and Iceland.”

Well, I don’t know how good that wine was Tomas, but the pattern you came up with could certainly become a vintage Gran Reserva!

Having briefly mentioned colours and flash I would like to add that it seems to me that the latest wave of new patterns, and in particular salmon flies, are in danger of becoming tying exercises in flash inclusion, and I think we need to perhaps be a little careful and selective on this front – as per this pattern.

Listening to some comments at this year’s BFFI (Feb 2014) I wonder how we ever managed to develop effective patterns before the likes of fluorescents, flashy hair, holographics et al hit the scene.

Please don’t get me wrong; I’m definitely not anti flash, holographic or fluorescence. I use them myself in a good many patterns, but only when I think they will improve the effectiveness of the fly - and this is the key. Include them when you believe they will boost the effectiveness of a pattern but not as a pre-requisite.

And I say this simply because you rarely, if at all, see any ‘new’ salmon/lure pattern that doesn’t include them. Food for thought I think?

8 Tips to Better Tying

1. The hook style used for this pattern provides a short shank length relative to the hook size, so ensure to leave enough space after the two-part body is completed for the three collar hackles, jungle cock and head.

2. The tag is formed from either silver oval or wire. I prefer three to four turns of oval but if you decide to use wire you will need more turns. When tying a number of these flies I find it well worthwhile to tie the tag and then add a touch of Superglue to the turns and allow this to dry before continuing with tying. The tag, at the rear of the body is a vulnerable part of the fly and a little glue really does help to make it more durable. When you consider the amount of ‘bashing’ generally that a salmon fly gets during a typical fishing session it’s worth making them as durable as possible.

3. The tail is very lightly dressed and requires just a few fibres of ultra-hot orange bucktail plus the two strands of Crystal Hair. If you cannot get hold of this particular orange colour use orange bucktail – the real key is to keep the tail very lightly dressed!

4. The butt is simply a narrow band of Glo-Brite floss. It only requires three or four turns. This butt is designed to add just an extra touch of fluorescent colour so don’t over do it! Tomas also adds a coat of clear varnish to this butt which is not a bad idea, in fact adding a coat of clear varnish to the rest of the body and allowing it to dry before continuing with the rest of the dressing will add to the overall durability of the body – your choice.

5. All hackles are wound using the ‘doubling’ technique, one turn tight up against the previous one, and winding towards the head. Use 3 to 4 turns of a fluorescent fire orange cock hackle followed by 2 to 3 turns of a fluorescent orange hen hackle. The stiffer barbs of the cock hackle provide a little more support and help keep the softer barbs of the hen more open and from collapsing around the body. The blue guinea fowl is quite a dominant colour and all you will need is one turn of feather – don’t be tempted to use more.

6. The jungle cock cheek feathers are tied in directly in front of the blue guinea fowl. They are tied to sit on top of the hook-shank. Secure the feathers in place with a few turns of tying thread and then whip-finish and remove the thread.

7. The head is completed by tying on with the red Glo-Brite floss and making a few turns to build a neat head. Whip-finish, and then add a coat of clear varnish and when this is dry add a second coat.

8. The hackles are all about the same length - so all three colours show.

Fishing the Copper Tom

Above: Tomas with a 25lb springer taken on the Copper Tom.

When Tomas Kolesinkas came to work at Fly Fishing and Fly Tying, I had no idea that he was so infatuated with the Atlantic salmon, writes Mark Bowler. Tomas heralds from Lithuania, where Atlantic salmon also run the rivers, but the runs there are much diminished. So, once installed in Perthshire, Tomas attacked the salmon rivers around here with gusto. Always keen to cast the fly for Scottish Atlantics, he learned quickly, and he was soon applying his fly tying skills to tweaking salmon flies and inventing his own patterns.

Last year, he enjoyed a good run into the close season with plenty of action, almost exclusively to this fly. At one stage, so hot was the action that he daren't take it off! The interesting thing about the pattern was its copper body. Tomas saw the sense in using copper, based on the historic use of the copper Toby and Blair spoon, which have also enjoyed great popularity on the Tay. If a copper gleam can be so attractive in a spinner or spoon, why not employ this coloration into the body of a salmon fly?

In addition to this basic body colour (Tomas uses a holographic copper tinsel), he also likes to use bright hackles and hints of fluorescence. However, in general the water in the Tay is clear with a tinge of peatiness, so it is easy to over-do the brightness and over-glamourise the fly. It is astonishing how well they can see a small fly in a big river. The added brightness is designed as a trigger, a method of attraction, it’s not there to enhance the salmon’s chances of seeing the fly (although this could be the case in murkier water).

Tomas doesn’t like to use just hen hackle at the front of the fly, as he believes that hen simply collapses around the body, he prefers to use a stronger, stiffer cock hackle wound behind the hen to support it. This way, as the fly swims, the hen is supported by the cock behind it and this results in a pulsating hackle movement, which he prefers.

In autumn, in normal conditions he fishes it with a full, fast-sink tip and fishes it as slow as he can across the current. In lower flows he will switch to an intermediate tip to keep the fly swimming, but still reasonably deep. Sometimes, if nothing is happening, then he changes the pace to fish it much more quickly - by either stripping, or by casting across the current.

A silver-bodied version is good in the summer. Tied on a two-inch copper tube this fly (at about 3.5 inches in length total) has done very well in Norway’s Gaula river.

The fly has also worked well in the spring. Here, Tomas uses it as a tube fly, mainly on a one or one-and-a-half inch tube, again fished deep and slow on fast sink-tip lines. As the water warms he uses size 10’s and then 12’s with the fly fishing higher in the water.

Back to top

Search the site