Anatomy of A Salmon Fly

by Steve Schweitzer

Although each salmon fly pattern may call for its' own proportions and components, the following diagram and table identifies the standard anatomy and proportions used in salmon fly tying. Understanding proper proportions is essential to world-class salmon fly tying. (see also The Salmon Fly Proportion, Design & Layout Guide)

Tag With the hook shank parallel to the tying surface, the tag starts at the barb point and proceeds to the hook point. The tag may consist of several materials such as tinsel and floss.
Tail Length is 1-1/2 of the hook gape, Height is 1/2 to equal of the hook gape
Tail Veiling Length is 1/2 of the tail
Butt Typically 3-5 wraps of material: osterich, dubbing, etc.
Body From the butt to 1 hook-eye length back from the head
Ribbing Generally, palmered tinsel or floss; 5 wraps from butt to head
Body Hackle A feather folded over and palmered behind the body ribbing
Main Wing Length is from the head to where the topping & roof meet the tail, not to exceed out of the borders of the two
Roof Length is from the head to the tailing, height is approx. equal to 1/2 to 3/4 hook gape
Topping Length is from the head to the tip of the tailing, height is approx. equal to one hook gape.
Shoulder(s) Length is approx 2/3 of main wing, or to the butt
Cheek(s) Length is generally 1/2 of shoulder
Horns Length equal to intersection of topping and tailing
Throat Length is just a smidgen longer than the body palmered hackle extending to 1/2 the distance from the hook eye and hook point
Throat Veiling Length is max to the length of the throat, sparsely tied
Head Evenly tapered and not grossly large. The smaller the better. Finish with gloss coat on thread-based heads.

User comments
From: James Francisco · rjfrancisco·at·  Link
Submitted December 31st 2006

Could you tell me what spey fly uses Merganzer and Cermerrains feathers.
Thanks nice sight.

GFF staff comment
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·  Link
Submitted October 28th 2005


Something better to do... meaning...?
Something aside from doing The Global FlyFisher or articles on salmon fly anatomy?

How about fishing? ;-)
We do that a lot!


From: Hava  Link
Submitted October 28th 2005

Very, nice, i got much needed infomation, but really, you guys need somthing better to do. Dont you think?

Want to comment this page? Fill out the form below.
Only comments
in English
are accepted!

Comentarios en Ingles
solamente, por favor!

Your name Your email
Anonymize my information. Name and email will not be shown with comment.
Notify me on new comments to this article on the above email-address.
You don't have to comment to start or stop notifications.

All comments will be screened by the GFF staff before publication.
No HTML, images, ads or links, please - we do not publish such comments...
And only English language comments will be published.
Name and email is optional but recommended.
The email will be shown in a disguised form in the final comment to protect you against spam
You can see other public comments on this page