Fly tying equipment and materials
reference guide. Learn how to tie
flies for fishing and display.


Anatomy of a Classic Salmon Fly


(Parts and description of a full dressed salmon fly)
When tying the Classic Atlantic Salmon Fly there are traditional standards that you are expected to adhere without deviation. When originating new patterns or tying freestyle many of the same standards and proportions will apply.

HOOK - Hook size and design plays an important role in the design of a classic Salmon Fly. Starting with a high quality hook can make or break the final appearance of a Classic Salmon Fly. Classic Atlantic Salmon Flies of past centuries used blind eye hooks with silk gut eyes. In keeping with tradition the same techniques and materials are duplicated as close as possible when constructing Classic Atlantic Salmon Flies starting with the hook. After laying down a base of thread, the first step will be tying on the silk gut eye.

TAG - The tag is usually aligned  with the barb of the hook and constructed with materials such as silk or tinsel. Tags can be termed as simple or complex. Any tag that uses more than a single color or materials are considered complex tags.

TAIL - Most often constructed using a Golden Pheasant Crest feather. They are available in a variety of dyed colors, but most patterns use natural golden crest feathers.

TAIL VEILING - Tradition dictates tail veiling's are half the length of the tail, but can be shorter, depending on factors such as the ascending curvature of the tail, ect...

BUTT - Most often made with 3 or 4 wraps of ostrich herl, but also can use peacock herl, dubbing, misc...

RIBBING - Generally 5 wraps the length of the body. Can be constructed with wire, tinsel, floss, ect... The ribbing is generally tied in under the butt and wrapped forward after the body has been completed.

BODY - Starts from the butt of the fly and extends to the wing section. Silk floss is the most common material used for Classic Salmon Fly bodies, but seal fur dubbing or other materials are used in many patterns.

BODY HACKLE - Body hackle generally follows behind the ribbing up the length of the body.

BODY VEILING - Body veiling will usually cover the length of the body. Limited patterns use body veiling and would not be used in conjunction with body hackle.

UNDER WING - Under wings are often constructed using tippet feathers and as the name implies, they are located under the main wing. Usually only the lower portion of the feather is visible. One of the benefits besides adding extra color and pattern variation, is that underwings will help support the main wings.

MAIN WING - The main wing is often the first thing to capture your attention when viewing a Classic Atlantic Salmon Fly. Made with barbs from goose, swan, turkey and a wide variety of feathers that have been married together for a combination of colors.

THROAT - Throats are constructed using hackle and stroked downward and towards the rear of the hook. The term 'Throat' is sometimes interchanged with 'Collars' but collars are used more on dry flies and not swept downward like throat hackle. Throats are sometimes referred to as the beard

THROAT VEILING - Hackle wrapped sparsely in front of the throat using a complimentary color and should be distinguishable from the throat. Kingfisher blue guinea hackle feathers are often used for throat applications. Throat veiling's are also referred to as front hackle or termed as the throat.


TOPPING - Golden pheasant crest is most often used. If the tail is also a golden pheasant crest feather, then the tips should barely be touching each other.

SHOULDER - Barbs from a barred wood duck feather are often used for shoulders. The term 'shoulder' and 'cheeks' are sometimes interchanged, but shoulders are longer than the cheek.

CHEEKS - Jungle cock nail feathers are most often used for cheeks. Tippets could be used or even both. Cheeks are generally 1/2 the length of the shoulder.

HORNS - Almost always constructed with barbs from a macaw tail feather. Horns are usually tied in position just behind the head.

HEAD - Usually made with thread, keeping it small as possible with a smooth taper and varnished, but some patterns will use peacock herl, ostrich herl, yarn, ect...

SILK GUT EYE - The silk gut eye was tied

Dimension of
Classic Atlantic Salmon Fly

These are just basic guidelines and historic standards, but it is not written in stone and variations are allowed.
• The hook size will depend on the pattern being tied.
• The tag will generally start at the point of the hook barb and wrap forward to the hook point
•  The Tail length is 1 1/2 the hook gap and curves upward equal to 1/2 the hook gap according to tradition, but most modern flies the ascending curvature can be equal to the gap of the hook with success.
•  The tail veiling is 1/2 the length of the tail. With some patterns the tail veiling could be less than half the tail length depending on factors such as the height and curvature of the tail.
• The butt starts at the hook point and consists of 3-4 wraps of material.
• The body starts at the butt and wraps forward, stopping one eye length from the head.
• The ribbing will generally be five wraps up the length of the body.
• Body veiling will cover the length of the body and the butt. If the body is segmented then the veiling would be the length of the individual segments.
• The underwings are about 2/3 the length of the main wings.
When using golden pheasant tippets the black bar should line up with the butt.
• The main wings extend from the head back to the tip of the tail, but contained within the confines of the tail and topping.
• Traditionally the roof is the length of the main wing. With most modern patterns the roof is 2/3reds the length of the main wing.
• The throat hackle is a little longer than the body hackle and extends back 1/2 way between the hook point and eye
• The shoulder is 2/3rds the length of the main wing.
• Cheeks are 1/2 the length of the shoulder.
• Horns are the equal to the length of the topping
• Thread heads are generally kept small as possible with a smooth taper. Heads constructed with wool or herl are usually the same size as the hook eye.
• The silk gut blind hook eye, which was actually tied in at the beginning, are subject to variations in size from person to person, but tradition dictates them to be

Fly tying equipment and materials
reference guide. Learn how to tie
flies for fishing and display.