Neo Modern Classics

Published Mar 1st 2009

Salmon Flies - The New Old School Style


Anders and Rasmus Ovesen - two brothers who tie flies and they do it the way a fly should be tied. They are both very, very serious about their common hobby and have invented quite a few flies especially designed for sea trout along the Scandinavian coast lines and pikes in the lakes. Their fishing flies are tied showing small attractive details but when they dive into some real tying it becomes much more fascinating.

When Anders went to The Czech Republic for Christmas Holiday in 2008 he brought some materials and tools along with his girlfriend Vendula. She packed her camera and they relaxed for couple of weeks.

Some people would not equalize relaxation and tying a fully dressed modern feather winged salmon fly, but that is exactly what Anders does. Concentrated to the max but yet freeing his mind while tying a fly to perfection. It is meditation from the start to the end, which takes three, four maybe five, six or seven hours.
Some other flies from the hands of Anders
Vendula shot the sequence and they contributed with this looong step-by-step invitation for tying a classic. Well, "classic" might not be the correct term as Anders adds a modern touch to his flies which takes the classic techniques into our century and make them interesting for the serious, self developing and curious tier.

When the fly is finished Anders does not pay much attention to it. The challenge is over and is quickly placed in some box and will rarely see the sun light again. If you would like to be challenged but still want to have your hand held by some "grown-up" watch the easy to follow guide beneath - and please note, that the theory behind the new modern feather winged salmon flies and standards of proportions etc. takes quite some time to get into, but that is some of the fun.

Classic Salmon Fly

Hook4/0 hook, gut eye.
TagFine oval tinsel and yellow silk.
TailGolden pheasant crest and argus pheasant.
ButtBlack ostrich herl.
First section bodyOval tinsel and orange silk.
First section under wingArgus pheasant and orange turkey. Sided by jungle cock.
First section buttBlack ostrich herl.
Second section bodyOval tinsel and orange silk.
Second section under wingArgus pheasant and orange turkey. Sided by jungle cock.
Second section buttBlack ostrich herl.
Third section bodyOval tinsel and orange silk.
Third section wingArgus pheasant and orange turkey. Sided by jungle cock.
Main under wingDyed red turkey and Argus pheasant.
Main wingDyed orange and red turkey and topped with Argus pheasant.
SidesWoodduck and Teal and jungle cock.
CheeksIndian crow sub.
ToppingGolden pheasant crest.

The instructions are found with each picture, but also here as a full text.

Step 1 - Overall design - Find an overall design of the fly This step will help you find the right crest for the tail and topping of the fly. You can design a low profile fly with a flat tail and low wing or a higher profile fly with a curved tail and higher wing. Play around with it and find a style that fits your liking.
Step 1 - Overall design
Step 2 - The gut-eye. - Attach the 8/0 thread at the front, if you don\\\'t cut off the end you can use it to make wraps close next to each other. Make a series of wraps backwards and then turn back towards the front to have a good foundation of tread for tying the gut-eye on.
Step 2 - The gut-eye.
Step 3 - Gut - Cut a piece of Gut, couple of cm or a little less than an inch.
Step 3 - Gut
Step 4 - shape the gut - Shape the gut around a round object. I used my whip finisher as it has the right diameter for the eye size I want. Press with your nails at the point where the ends meet around the object.
Step 4 - shape the gut
Step 5 - Tie in the gut-eye. - Place the legs of the gut-eye along the hook shank and make closely tied wraps, making sure you have the gut placed the way you want it, either on the side or underneath the hook shank. I prefer to have it on the side, others underneath.
Step 5 - Tie in the gut-eye.
Step 6 - Shaping gut ends - Shaping the ends of the gut is essential so we can make as smooth a foundation for the head area as possible. So you need to cut both ends in an angle so we can make close wraps over it.
Step 6 - Shaping gut ends
Step 7 - smooth tags - If you cut off the ends in the right angle you will be able to make close wraps all the way down over the ends and make a nice and smooth head area.
Step 7 - smooth tags
Step 8 - Gut eye done - Whip finish the thread and cut it off, put a bit of lacquer on it to lock down the materials and make a smooth transition from hook shank to head area.
Step 8 - Gut eye done
Step 9 - Start thread - Start the thread a few turns in front of the barb point, do 3 turns and cut off the end.
Step 9 - Start thread
Step 10 - Tie in the oval tinsel.  - I use the rule of 7 ties here, which means, I use 2 wraps to tie in the material and then 5 more wraps to tightly secure the material while I am working with it. After the tinsel has been wrapped its possible to unwind those 5 extra thread wraps and tie the tinsel down with 2 tight wraps. This saves a lot of potentially unwanted wraps that might leave a not smooth under body to work on. Don\'t cut off any of the ends just yet.
Step 10 - Tie in the oval tinsel.
Step 11 - Tinsel wrapped - Here you can see the tinsel wrapped and the 5 excess wraps unwound ready to tie in the tinsel.
Step 11 - Tinsel wrapped
Step 12 - Locked down - Use 2 wraps to lock the tinsel down and make sure that the two ends lie next to each other on the hook shank. Don\'t cut off the ends.
Step 12 - Locked down
Step 13 - Floss foundation - Make close wraps forward until you reach the point where the thread is above the hook point. Make sure these wraps are close and as smooth as possible. This will make the floss step a lot easier and the result more pleasing.
Step 13 - Floss foundation
Step 14 - Tie in floss - Again use 2 wraps and 5 more to secure it during the handling of the floss. Wrap the floss backwards down towards the tinsel and back forward again, when you reach the tie off point unwind the 5 extra wraps and tie off the floss with 3 tight wraps.
Step 14 - Tie in floss
Step 15 - Cut materials - We can now cut off the materials. Again it is better to cut it off at an angle so we get a smooth surface to mount the tail on.
Step 15 - Cut materials
Step 16 - Tail crest - Find a tail crest that matches closely to the profile you want.
Step 16 - Tail crest
Step 17 - Flatten - If you want to flatten the curve a bit it is possible to do so with your nails. Gently pressing your nail into the feather will gradually change the curve.
Step 17 - Flatten
Step 18 - Flatten stem - Flatten the tie in point to easier mount it on top of the hook shank, use a round nose pliers.
Step 18 - Flatten stem
Step 19 - Tie in the tail - Tie in the tail on top of the hook shank, make sure it is aligned well and strait. If this step is causing problems it is usually because the tie in point is not flattened enough. Cut off the excess end from the tail.
Step 19 - Tie in the tail
Step 20 - Prepare tail strips - Prepare the 2 strips for the tail make sure they have the same amount of fibers in each strip.
Step 20 - Prepare tail strips
Step 21 - Place tail strips - Place them back by back on top of the hook shank. Make a tread loop and tie down the fibers while you hold them with your left hand to make sure they stay on the top.
Step 21 - Place tail strips
Step 22 - Cut off waste - Cut off the waste material and taper the under body for the butt with a few wraps.
Step 22 - Cut off waste
Step 23 - Ostrich - Tie in the Ostrich herl.
Step 23 - Ostrich
Step 24 - Wrap the Ostrich - Wrap the Ostrich and secure it with 3 wraps. Then continue wraps closely forward. Don\'t cut the end yet.
Step 24 - Wrap the Ostrich
Step 25 - Measure - Use a piece of paper to measure out the segments of the body. Draw the butt points in the body so you get 3 equal sections.
Step 25 - Measure
step 26 - Tinsel - Wind the thread forward. When your thread is at the rearmost division point you can tie in the tinsel.
step 26 - Tinsel
Step 27 - Floss - Next tie in the floss, again using the 7 wraps rule.
Step 27 - Floss
Step 28 - Rear floss done - The floss has been wrapped while holding the tinsel with your left hand making sure its flat and smoothly covered. The 5 excess wraps unwound and floss tied down with 3 tight wraps.
Step 28 - Rear floss done
Step 29 - Tinsel - Make 5 wraps of tinsel equally spaced.
Step 29 - Tinsel
Step 30 - Strips - Prepare the strips needed for the 1 section under wing.
Step 30 - Strips
Step 31 - Marrying - Marry the strips
Step 31 - Marrying
Step 32 - Tie in rear wings - Turn your wise and hold the two merged wings back to back on the hook with your left hand and make a thread loop and tie it down.
Step 32 - Tie in rear wings
Step 33 - Inspect - Turn your wise and inspect the result from the front side.
Step 33 - Inspect
Step 34 - Trim - Cut off excess materials from the wing. And tie in jungle cock feather on each side.
Step 34 - Trim
Step 35 - Section butt - Finish the section butt and refer to your paper model again for the next section start. Perform step 26 to 34 again for the next section.
Step 35 - Section butt
Step 36 - Second wing - Second wing section is done. It\'s slightly larger than the rear one.
Step 36 - Second wing
Step 37 - Throat wing - The throat wing section is a bit larger than the other sections. You need 5 strips for it. And again tie in jungle cock on the sides. When done with this step whip finish the 8/0 thread.
Step 37 - Throat wing
Step 38 - Change thread - Change your thread to a 6/0 which will make the mounting of the main wings easier. Its stronger and can save you some wraps. We will change back to a thinner thread after we mounted the main wings.
Step 38 - Change thread
step 39 - Underwing - The underwing is merged from two strips.
step 39 - Underwing
Step 40 - Underwing - Tie it in again using a thread loop and controlling it with your left hand.
Step 40 - Underwing
Step 41 - Wing strips - prepare the wing strips. Each side is exactly identical, taken from opposite sides of one or several feathers
Step 41 - Wing strips
Step 42 _ Marry wings - Marry the wings to create the two opposite sections
Step 42 _ Marry wings
Step 43 - Tie in the main wing. - Use some tight wraps and support the wing while you cut off the excess material. Then use a few extra wraps to tie down the material in the head. Whip finish the 6/0 thread. And switch back to a 8/0.
Step 43 - Tie in the main wing.
Step 44 - prepare sides - Prepare the two sides marrying the strips together
Step 44 - prepare sides
Step 45 - Tie in sides - Tie in the front side and turn the thread to tie in the back side.
Step 45 - Tie in sides
Step 46- JC and cheek - Tie in the jungle cock and the small cheek.
Step 46- JC and cheek
Step 47 - topping - Time to tie in the topping and make the last few wraps to finish off the head shape.
Step 47 - topping
Step 48 - Done! - The finished fly with the head lacquered.
Step 48 - Done!

The finshed fly

User comments
From: Fernando Gullino · camilagullino·at·  Link
Submitted November 16th 2009

hi, I`ve got very old english flies with cat intestine hook. I`ve got 30 with double hook and 20 with single hook. I can take some photographs...?

From: kirk penna · kpenna1·at·  Link
Submitted September 24th 2009

my great uncle invented the old faithful and their are not to many people who tie it any more just family members now most people who tie it ouside the family I am told tie it somewhat backwords the man that invented it was leslie hinshaw sometime back in the fifties

From: Jason · elkinthebag·at·  Link
Submitted August 25th 2009

Has anybody ever heard of a wet fly called the old faithful and know how to tie it

From: Moreno Borriero · moreno.borriero·at·  Link
Submitted May 1st 2009

Beautiful!! Well done! Sooner or later I'll try my hand at this art form.

From: john jenkins · jnksjohn·at·  Link
Submitted May 1st 2009

The fly has very good balance in size of all its components, and a well thought out colour that mix well

From: Ivar Thordal · ivar.thordal·at·  Link
Submitted March 2nd 2009

You are a true artist Anders. Thanks for sharing the proces.

Comment to an image
From: Dave - Full name and email anonymized  Link
Submitted March 23rd 2015

Ronn Lucas in Oregon, I believe, sells his handmade hooks for art but don't try to buy any flies. They're never for sale. I heard he bought a hook business. I've seen some of his art hooks as large as 8 inches long.

Comment to an image
From: Karen · humblefly1·at·  Link
Submitted November 3rd 2014

I am trying to purchase blind eye 8/0 hooks. Do you have any suggestions? These are for art not fishing.

Thank you.

Comment to an image
From: Ed - Full name and email anonymized  Link
Submitted January 12th 2013

Where can I bye the silk worm gut for blind eye hooks

GFF staff comment
Comment to an image
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·  Link
Submitted January 21st 2012


The flattened hooks aren't necessarily fly hooks, although we do see older flattened fly hooks now and then. These hooks are usually referred to as spade end hooks, and the idea is that you tie your line around the hook shank ands let the knot slide forwards to the flat part, which stops it from sliding off.

As you can imagine this is not really practical on flies, where the material will fill up the shank. On some really small hooks - like size 28-30-32 - where an eye is almost impossible or at least very hard to forge, you sometimes see spade ends, and here you will again tie the tippet on before you tie the fly, so that it will be permanently attached. But such hooks are rare - both the sizes and the spade forging.

Mustad has a page with some examples of different hook eyes - for all kinds of hooks - mostly bait hooks. The only type not mentioned is the blind eye hook, which has no eye, like the one used for the flies in this article.

You can see a blind eye and a spade end hook compared on this illustration. The top one will be fitted with a gut eye as described in the article the bottom one is tied onto the line with a knot as shown.


Comment to an image
From: Mike Bullard · mikebullard·at·  Link
Submitted January 20th 2012

Thank you for writing me back on this. I not only find tying relaxing but it is also just plain fun to try to tie a fly that most closely emulates the actual insect etc. that I am trying to copy. I have learned so much from your web site and I am grateful that you and others share your skill and knowledge with us all. I have seen a type of hook that has a flattened nub at the eye end of the hook is this the kind of hook that should be used for this type of application? I have also seen another kind of hook that has a flange that bends back towards the gap of the hook but is left open. I think this may also be a hook style that can be used for this application too. It is hard to see on the photos what the eye end of the hook looks like so I thought I would ask you about these for clarification. Again, thank you for your awesome site.

GFF staff comment
Comment to an image
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·  Link
Submitted January 11th 2012


The gut eye is used to copy the old style of salmon flies. Older hooks had no eyes (they were hard to forge) and a loose eye had to be tied onto the hook before the fly could be used. Another technique was snelling where a piece of tippet material was tied in under the body of the fly and permanently attached to it.


Comment to an image
From: Mike Bullard · mikebullard·at·  Link
Submitted January 11th 2012

Hi Guys, I am no way near the level of artistry you have clearly accomplished and that can be seen in this article, but I hope to be one day. I do not understand why use the gut eye or what it is for, assuming it serves some important purpose. I am assuming it is an anchor point for the tippet. If so, could a standard hook be used that already has an eye on it? Also, can you recommend any books that would be useful towards teaching me how to tie flies like these. They are stunning and really quite beautiful.

Comment to an image
From: pierre jobin · pierrejobin·at·  Link
Submitted August 15th 2009

hi..i just love your work..or should i say, your art. i would love to learn this amazing art of fishing fly tying.. So i appreciate the good work you're doind. thank's my friend. To bad i have no credit card...

Comment to an image
From: jason · jayguilmain·at·  Link
Submitted April 2nd 2011

wow these are some absaloutly beautiful patterns . where did you find them ?. i tip my hat to you sir . nice ..

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