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Salmon Flies (past and present) – By Henk van Bork

By Magnus Angus

This is an English translation of a Dutch original, and as far as I can see/read, nothing has been lost in translation. Thanks to translator, Jan Willem Wijers, and editor, Keith Harwood, the book reads well. I found myself flicking through this, stopping whenever a fly or page of tying diagrams caught my eye: excellent design and graphics, high quality photography, well printed on decent, coated paper.

Salmon Flies is a survey, a sampling of salmon flies from the early days up to reasonably modern. After a very potted sketch of fly-fishing history, the author gets stuck into the flies, and looks at four Blacker patterns, each fly is dressed and photographed to a high standard and the fly-portrait is followed by tying instructions and explanation. All the main featured flies are treated the same way.

The next chapter, ‘The colourful era’, briefly introduces Traherne and Kelson, then ties eight flies in date order from 1840 to 1895. I liked that sense of tying through half a century of flies. With the flies tied the following chapter is devoted to framing, which seems to say quite a lot about this project. Classic salmon flies were tied for fishing. We now tie them mainly for display so framing is an essential part of the process.

The remaining chapters continue into the 20th century, introducing hair-winged flies, Dee and Spey flies, Shrimps & Prawns. The final chapter is ‘Contemporary Salmon Fly Dressing’, which had me expecting contemporary fishing flies, but is really a sampling of modern creative flies tied in the style of classic flies – some beautiful tying!

The author (and editor) have chosen and assembled a teasing introduction to classic feather-winged salmon flies. To my mind the hair-wing chapter could be taken out of this and used as the base for a similar survey/introduction to modern salmon fishing flies, the feather-winged flies are about enough for me. A little gem of  a book!


Salmon Flies (past and present)
By Henk van Bork
Published by Coch-y-Bonddu Books
Price: £19.95 (softback)

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