Cheapskate Intro
Cheapskate Heron
Lady Caroline
Cheapskate Green Butt

Cheapskate Heron

The Cheapskate Heron is a poor man's Spey fly.

By Martin Joergensen

The Cheapskate Heron is a poor man's Spey fly.
Click for pattern
This article is based on my entry in the FF@ 1997 Illustrated Pattern Swap
Spey flies are characterized by their heron hackle. Now, where I live - in Denmark - heron is protected, but widely available and legal too. In many other places, mainly the U.S.A, heron is far more strictly protected and mostly unavailable as a fly tying material. If you find some feathers in the shops they are expensive at best and illegal at worst. If you find feathers in nature, I would generally recommend leaving them there, but I will admit that I would also be tempted.

If a heron feather - by chance of course - should dump into your lap, or if you spent the money on a bagfull (half a dozen feathers, of them two useful ones...) you probably want to be very economical with it.
Spey fly patterns usually prescibe a whole heron feather wound as a body hackle. The long hackle is the hallmark of that type of fly. Which means one good feather equals one fly. That was the end of that feather..

I came upon an idea. Actually I combined two incidents into one idea. First of all I was going through my heron feathers (yes, I have more than one) and found some butts that I had saved after having tied whole body hackles. I wanted to use these feathers, which still had a lot of useful and long barbs, but unfortunately a very thick stem.

Spey and Dee style
The tying style Spey originates in the north eastern corner of Scotland by the rivers Dee and Spey. These flies are probably some of the oldest of the classical salmon flies. Their obvious character comes mainly from two factors:
1) the low and often slim construction often topped by a mallard, turkey or pheasant feather wing
2) the long and very mobile heron hackle
These two traits will immediately reveal a fly as a Spey or Dee fly.
Second I saw Poul Jorgensens video on tying salmon flies for fishing and read his new Danish book on salmon flies. Here Poul describes the wishbone method of tying in throat hackles, a method that he has been using for a while.
I combined those two things into a kind of wishbone heron throat hackle. By tying in two or three small sections of stem with barbs under the hook after finishing the body of the fly, I got an effect that was almost Speyish - although not as good as a real body hackle. But much cheaper...

Click here for detailed tying instructions.

Don't think that heron is just for filthy rich criminals. Spey flies are both beautiful and good fishing flies. Try them.



To the pattern

Special Spey hooks are available, but it's not at all impossible to tie a Spey flies on any salmon hook. I personally prefer the classic curved Bartleet bend as seen on the Partridge hooks to the left. But a real cheapskate would never choose these expensive hooks. The plain Sprite hooks to the right are just fine - at less than half the price.

You can download the original 1997 entry as a PDF here or see it as a JPG by clicking on the thumb below.
It was printed on A3 (about 2*Letter size) paper and folded to form a small leaflet.

Click for a larger picture

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