Shrimpy Things

Recently I’ve been playing around with some Shrimpy things. I really enjoy tying this style of salmon fly and I love mixing colour and materials within the style. This little batch of flies are heading to Russia this coming summer with my friend Rafal Kaminsky, I hope they do the business for him.

They are all tied on Partridge Code P double hooks size 6 (I genuinely believe there are none better) The colour schemes are loosely based around existing patterns such as the Green Highlander, Kinermony Killer and Cascade and they contain materials such as Boar, Nyatt, Shadow fox and Hen.

I hope you like them…

img_049 (4)

The following photo shows a little more detail of the construction with the mid wing and hackle. Orange Nyatt on the left, Sunburst Boar on the right.

img_033 (5)

The colours in the final fly in the series are based on a Green Highlander. One of the most classic of classic salmon flies.

img_035 (1)

While I was tying these flies, somebody asked about how I construct and finish the heads. It’s quite simple……………

I use 50 denier GSP thread in white to tie all these flies. Its extremely strong, lays flat, is very fine and any colour on top of it is stronger in hue. It enables me to form a very small and neat finish to the fly.

img_036 (4)

I then use a different colour thread to finish the head. The brand is not important, only in the need for the thread to lay flat. Danvilles, UTC, Glo-brite all work.

This is Danvilles 6/0. I cover the white thread with two layers and build the shape of the head.

img_042 (2)

Finally I add one coat of Deer Creek Diamond Fine UV resin and cure with a UV torch. I find it easiest to put a small dot of resin on my thumbnail and apply it with a fine needle.

img_044 - Version 2

Paul Slaney

I should give this up. Wrapping bits of fluff round a hook for fun, just can’t be normal.

McConomy’s Goat

This past weekend I was sent a small booklet authored by professional fly tiers Jimmy and Gloria Younger from Dumfries in Scotland.

Its called- “The Book” Salmon, Trout and sea Trout Flies.

Jimmy recently featured in the recent film by Eric Steel, Kiss The Water, documenting the life and work of another Scottish tier, the famous Miss Megan Boyd.

And a simple you tube search will come up with some interesting snippets of film of Jimmy tying flies. I love his trick with tinsel tags.

At first glance, this is a simple little book, black and white with a scattering of hand drawn sketches. A few pages in however, and you realise you are reading the wisdom of many years experience behind the vice.

I was instantly hooked! Jimmy, or is it Gloria? takes us through the basic tools, materials, proportions and techniques needed to construct a hair wing Salmon Fly with the occasional gem along the way!

On fly tying Vices…” In the USA, a fly tying vice is known as a ‘vise’, so that there would be no confusion between the two when in print. Over here, we don’t bother about this, as most of us can tell the difference, at some time of the day, at least”

On Jungle Cock.. “I firmly believe that the addition of Jungle cock cheeks make all the difference to a fly, but only from a sales point of view”

Delve further into the book and uncover a treasure trove of dressings for those 350 salmon and sea trout flies, many of which are new to me and I suspect are local to Jimmy and Gloria and in some cases designed by or for particular clients.

This is where the true worth of this book lies. Patterns such as the Caroline Scott, Eskimo Nell, Lord Louis Shrimp and the Sporran grace the pages with the more familiar Stoats, Ally’s and other traditional Scottish fare. It’s a wealth of ideas and possibilities.

On page 40, I came across the McConomy’s Goat, a dressing that sent me straight to my Vice.

Here it is, I think its a beauty! img_004 (4)

If you get a chance, pick up this book. You wont regret it.

Paul Slaney

I should give this up. Wrapping bits of fluff round a hook for fun, just can’t be normal.

50 shades of olive

Well its popular in the Cinema as I understand it…..

When the wife is away, the boys go to play
and the Mastercard funds all things nice.
Plain envelopes, no receipts and no questions asked.
You don’t have to ask the man twice.

As gently restrained, and not by the LAW,
lay the soft curves of a Grip 2701.
Lightly waxed, a smooth bed of silk,
it’s just the start of this evenings fun.

Stripped, plucked and wrapped to his desire,
With a little whipping for good measure.
The lust in his eye for those fine Irish dyes,
reveal the depths of his deprived guilty pleasure.

Paul Slaney

I should give this up. Wrapping bits of fluff round a hook for fun, just can’t be normal.

Recent Times

I’ve been very busy these last few weeks with a long procession of Canadian patterns falling off my vise. Canadian hair wing patterns were the initial inspiration behind my salmon tying.

Some years ago I was captivated by a photograph of a box of Miramichi flies from the hands of the late Warren Duncan from New Brunswick and later was privileged to meet and tie with him here in the UK. His encouragement got me into this addiction and I thank him for it.

Since then, there have been a lot of hackles wrapped and I lost the finish on my Vise somewhere along the way. But here’s to you Warren, I hope you approve.

And yes mate, I know an Undertaker has a gold rib:-)

Orange Blossom Special


Copper Killer


To a more than casual observer my random substitution of some of the materials is due purely to what I have to hand when I tie the flies.

Paul Slaney

I should give this up. Wrapping bits of fluff round a hook for fun, just can’t be normal.

No Jungle Cock were harmed making this fly

For sea trout or sewin as we call them around here (sea run browns) you cant really get better than a fly that’s black and silver. I’m prepared to bet that most Sewin fishers have something similar in their box.

Tie this simple fly in a range of sizes from 2-12 on single hooks, double hooks, metal tubes, plastic tubes, waddington shanks, whatever.. And you’ll have a great box of fishing flies season round.

The wing can be squirrel, bear, bucktail. fox or as in this case, possum. Or indeed a mix. The flash is optional, best tie it in as you can always take it off if its too bright on the night. I’ve seen guys cut Jungle cock off Sewin flies because they think its too much.

While we are on that subject, you can see that no Jungle Cock were harmed in the making of this fly. Its not that I don’t like it – but so many of these flies end up in trees whilst fly fishing at night. its just too damn expensive!

img_049 (2)

A trio of black and silver sea trout lures, all size 6, tied on Partridge Bomber hooks.

Blacker than a witches heart

It only took an afternoon find the big fish! I’d searched the beat and run a Copper Mepps through its hidey hole. From my position on a high bank, I’d observed a fish lazily following my offering only to turn away at the last second. I logged it away, Salmon or Sea Trout I couldn’t tell, but it was was a good one and I knew exactly where it lay.

Where the big ones live

There were 3 other big fish I’d marked in the area. In another pool downstream, an almighty splash in the middle of the night before had given one away. The other two however, were in a magnificent pool that marked the no mans land between ours and another beat downstream. Saved for desperation stakes, but it’s just not “cricket” to venture onto someone else’s water, even if there is a fine dividing line.

No mans land

We’d enjoyed a late dinner and a few glasses of wine but the evening was passing slowly. Late night TV was blearing from the other room. The guys had got addicted to “Bitchin Kitchen”. I don’t think they were interested in the recipes, but they had been away for a few days and she was very easy on the eye.

I got my head down and stole an hours shut eye.

It must have been around midnight when we finally got going. The full moon that had been threatening us for the last few nights was finally with us. I’d been preying for cloud cover but as we walked down through the fields our shadows followed us as if it was broad daylight.

imageShadows in the moonlight

I’ve been out on better nights, but the boys had traveled a long way for this chance.

The river was quiet, nothing moving, dew already fully formed in the long grass! The chance of a river mist increasing by the second, something else to add to the list of no-no’s that plague your chances of a Sewin.

No need for lights, we found our way upstream to the pool with the big fish and the tree lined north bank. There would be a shadow there. Indian file, the loudest noise an owl screeching somewhere in the distance and the only visible light at the porch of our cottage.

You see? these fish like it blacker than a witches heart. It’s a fine time to fish and an intense experience. You have to experience it to understand how guys can get addicted to this.
Blacker than a witches heart

And this was a private beat in the Tiefi valley in high season, a Mecca for us kind of guys.

The night was getting cold but the mist hadn’t quite formed as Josh threw his first cast with a black and silver fly. He let it swing over pool whilst I found a comfortable spot in the bushes. I sat back to watch, pulled up my hood, smoked a cigarette and promptly drifted off into a deep sleep.

I don’t know how long I was there before a loud shout of “Fish On!” had the same effect as a bucket of water thrown in my face. First instinct was to light the scene and I saw Josh’ rod bend deep into the butt, the fish splashing heavily in the surface. The sound, hugely magnified by the still night and the depth of the pool.

This was the fish of a lifetime! Please! Please! Don’t let it get away!

Jesus Christ! I left the net in the cottage! Luckily the fish swam towards Josh and as much as I wish I could regale you with a tale of a long and heroic fight. My first instinct was to jump in the water and make a grab for it. My hands cradled around her belly and the wrist of the big square tail and we had her.

It was only then, I realised the other two guys had walked upstream in time to witness the whole event and luckily, between us, we found a camera and tape measure. As our lamps lit the scene with an artificial glow, I had to look twice, between the camera flashes, to confirm that it actually read 82cms, a touch over 32 inches.

IMGP2706Enough said

It took Josh a few moments for it to sink in. He was on his knees cradling the fish but I had to ask him the question. Around here, there are no rules other than the fish was his to with what he wished.

“Take her or let her go mate”? I asked gently.

The struggle was obvious in his eyes, a moment of darkness, quickly suppressed as he stepped into the water and sent her on her way. A powerful flick of that big tail and our lights lost her in the depths. Good man!

As Josh quite aptly summed up the whole event. “Mission accomplished!”

imageThe way back home


I’ve long admired the traditional Scottish patterns for Atlantic Salmon. The Dunkeld in particular being a personal favorite. There is something about the color combination and the history of the pattern that keeps some in my box.

The modern dressings show little resemblance to the dressings given in Pryce-Tanatt. And perhaps my version below even less, though I believe the spirit of the original is there.

img_045 (2)

This fly, tied on a Partridge M2 is constructed using hot orange Hen, fiery brown Shadow Fox, Blue Eared Pheasant  and kingfisher blue Guinea Fowl tied in that order. All the hackles are fully wound. The orange being support for the soft wing. Click the image for bigger.

Paul Slaney

Silver Rat’s again

These are slight variants of the Silver Rat in that the original used flat silver tinsel for the body and gold oval tinsel for the rib.


Here I‘ve used silver holographic tinsel and silver oval tinsel rib. The original dressing as follows

  • Thread – red
  • Tag – oval gold tinsel
  • Tail – golden pheasant crest
  • Body – flat silver tinsel
  • Rib – oval gold tinsel
  • Wing – grey fox guard hairs
  • Hackle – grizzle (I’ve used hen)
  • Head – red

I believe the name Rat, derived from the initials of its originator Roy Angus Thomson

Paul Slaney

Rat Pack

This is my very first blog post about my love of making fishing flies.

img_079 (1)

Here is one to get this blog started. It’s an Atlantic Salmon pattern called a Silver Rat, very popular in Canada, its country of origin and indeed anywhere migratory fish swim. These are tied on size 6 and 8 hooks. Click the image for more…

Paul Slaney