Major Traherne's flies

Published Sep 18th 2011

Major John Popkin Traherne - The story of a poster with 28 full dressed salmon flies


The poster

Back in 2000 the Danish fly tier, Kim Rasmussen compiled all Major John Popkin Traherne's beautiful salmon fly dressings into one poster. This was done in memory of Traherne's death 100 years earlier. I was involved in the graphical production of the poster, and now, more than 10 years later The Global FlyFisher can show all these beautiful flies... and then some.

Today, Major Traherne is recognized as one of the best and most innovative fly tiers ever. Having fished the best rivers in Ireland, Scotland, and Norway, Major Traherne also held a number of records for salmon catches. In 1864 he caught 165 fish in fifteen days on the Namsen River in Norway. Still today it is said that this score has never been equaled.
At the World Exhibition in London in 1883, Major Traherne won the title with a box of 18 of his Salmon flies.
These 18 flies became the beginning of a series of articles written by Geo. M. Kelson in the Fishing Gazette.
The judge at the World Exhibition was the same G.O. Kelson, primarily known for his book entitled "Salmon flies and how to dress them", which was first published 1895.

There are two major aspects of Major Traherne's fly patterns: First, his use of only natural colored feathers and second his way of displaying whole feathers in almost all his dressings, in stead of using strips or strands.
Many of his creative dressings are a result of leftovers from bird skins, where the materials for standard patterns had been used.

Patterns like the Chatterer reveal the use of the small Blue Chatterer feathers from the head of the bird that is a leftover. On the Lapwing the large blue Enameled Trush feather is a leftover. They were too small or too large for traditional dressings, but Major Traherne created new patterns by using these feathers.
The only drawback now - as it was 120 years ago - is the availability of the materials. For every Chatterer being tied correctly, you have to have access to a whole blue Chatterer head. A Lapwing also needs a complete tail from an Enameld Trush to be correctly tied. The use of leftover materials tells us how large his flies were tied. The use of Golden Pheasant crests as wing material also tells us that the flies were of a bigger size than the standard patterns.
By researching in older articles written by Kelson in the Fishing Gazette, and later in Land and Water, 28 dressings and variations have been found. Major Traherne may have created more patterns, but as he never wrote anything about the subject himself, I doubt that the future will reveal any further patterns.

In the room

The flies
Black Argus -
Black Argus
Black Argus variation -
Black Argus variation
Black Prince -
Black Prince
Blue Boyne -
Blue Boyne
Blue Boyne variation -
Blue Boyne variation
Bluebell -
Chatterer -
Emerald Gem -
Emerald Gem
Evangeline -
Evening Star -
Evening Star
Fra Diavolo -
Fra Diavolo
Gitana -
Jay P. T. -
Jay P. T.
Juno -
Lang Syne -
Lang Syne
Lapwing -
May Queen -
May Queen
May Queen variation -
May Queen variation
Nelly Bly -
Nelly Bly
Nephentian -
Nephentian variation -
Nephentian variation
Quinchat -
Rouge-et-noir -
Sir Moss -
Sir Moss

Major Traherne

In August 1993 Kim Rasmussen was invited to attend the Federation of Fly Fisher's conclave in Livingston Montana.
With him he brought a plate of the 28 Traherne dressings. This was the first time all 28 dressings were displayed in one frame. The beauty of the frame quickly made it famous, and it was sold to a collector at the end of the show for US$10,000. -.
Since that day, he wanted to redo the artwork and make it into a poster, giving everyone who loves the beauty of salmon flies access to Major Traherne's ingenuity.
The size of the poster is 28" by 40" (70 by 100 centimeters) like the original frame. The flies are all replicated in the original size with colors as true as possible, only limited by the photographic and art print process.
All the original dressings have been followed strictly without any interpretations from Kim's hand. The original wood engravings have been the guideline for final dressing of the flies.

Kim Rasmussen
Kim Rasmussen is a fly tier from Copenhagen, Denmark. He tied his first trout flies at the age of 15 and started as a semi professional fly tier a few years later.
His interest in classic salmon flies started in 1980, fishing for salmon on a famous Swedish salmon river. Since then he has become a renowned salmon fly tier, who often ties at demonstrations and shows. Kim owns and runs the shop Salmon Fly Aps in Copenhagen, Denmark, best known for its vast collection of high quality fly tying materials.

Still available
The poster is still available for sale through Kim's shop Salmon Fly. It measures 100 by 70 centimeters or 27 by 39 inches. The poster is produced in fine art print on high quality, white art paper (150 grams).
The price is pretty low, DKK 99.- or about 19 USD or just over 13 Euros. Add postage to that and you have a really neat fly poster for the wall in your tying room or club house.
Check it out on the Salmon Fly website. Click here to turn the site into English and then here to see the poster.

Surplus flies that didn't make it to the poster.

User comments
From: Cecil Burke · cecil.burke·at·  Link
Submitted May 8th 2015

absolutely beautiful work. where can I find materal to dress flies with the original materials

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