Long question

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This topic contains 5 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Scotty MacFly 11 months ago.

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    Scotty MacFly

    When is it when the fly you’re tying is no longer the fly you’re tying?

    I understand peoples variations, change that to this, and add this to that, but when is it really not the actual fly you were wanting to tie, but think you still are.

    Let’s use the Adams for example, and please correct me at my ignorant mistakes. The hackle as far as I know hasn’t changed, everyone uses a brown mixed with grizzly, but I have seen the body material change from muskrat to grey dubbing, to even grey quilled bodies to sinthetic grey bodies. Even the tailing material has changed depending on who ties them, and we/they still call it an Adams. O.k., it’s an Adams, but it has varied away from the original pattern I’m not sure if I want to call some Adams patterns an Adams.

    How far away from the traditional pattern would you say a fly changed shouldn’t be called that fly anymore?

    Probably the best fly I can think of is the, and I apologize for this, but it really makes a good point, the Pheasant tail nymph. It was tied with a hook, copper wire for 80% of it, and a little bit of pheasant tail feathers, but mostly out of wire. Now look what it has turned into, mostly pheasant tail feathers, a little bit of wire and a hook. But again we have some with flash, hot spots, legs, air bubbles, and whatever the imagination offers. The PT nymph has gone through so many changes, it’s not like Sawyers fly when he developed it, similar with some add ons, but not the same.

    You could say the variations that have been added have improved the fly to some sort of degree, ok, I can see that maybe. But is it really a pheasant tail still?



    You probably know my answer already Scotty. I stick to the classic way to tie flies. I stay with natural materials and wouldn’t dream of using synthetics. If the original uses synthetics, I don’t use it.

    Yes, i’m picky, but it pleases me. An Adams not using muskrat? Blasphemy! 😀


    Scotty MacFly

    Speaking somewhat of materials, I have learned that Pearsall’s silk company is no longer in business. I understand the prices have really gone up in the British Isles for the product.

    I have to make due with what I have. Do you know of any modern day books that teach how to tie flies the traditional way?



    What’s in a name? An Adams by any other name will still catch a fish…:)

    Taking your example of the Adams, IIRC on the original Adams the wings weren’t tied upright but down – it was intended as a caddis imitation. And I’ve seen PT variations re-named – Sawyer PT for his original dressing, “American” PT for the version with a peacock thorax and a wing case, etc.

    I’m as guilty as anyone of changing things on a pattern and still calling it by the original name. For example, I make most of my Harrop Hairwing Duns with biot bodies rather than the original dubbing. I just like the way biots look. But Rene Harrop still deserves the credit for the fly. It bugs me when someone changes one thing on an established pattern and tries to claim it as his own.



    Bad news about Pearsall. That’s going to really affect spiders. Brit’s must be pissed.

    I know about the Adams being a caddis fly in the beginning, but it was changed before it got going to what it is today. That’s the one I use. Although I will use it for caddis by snipping off the tail and the bottom of the hackle.


    Scotty MacFly

    “What’s in a name? An Adams by any other name will still catch a fish…:)”

    That’s funny. I like that philosophy.

    I agree the flies should be called by their original makers and stay that way. Today there are many Frankensteinish flies out there I wouldn’t know how to or what to change on them. I prefer the classics.

    I know the Lime Trude is a very popular fly, whether it’s an original or a fly derived from another I don’t know, but I can’t see myself fishing with one just because the name bugs me. Forgive the pun.

    But again, when is the original named fly no longer that fly with the many variations. Hmmm, variations. That sounds like a politically correct way to change the make up of a fly and still call it the original name. Oh well, to each their own.
    I can picture two guys fishing different variations of the same fly and arguing which is more like the original.

    Yes, creek, the Brits are upset, but they have other options.

    But when it comes to tying classic flies like Stewart’s Black Spider, I don’t think he said to only use Pearsalls silk. I know of a few shops I have seen online that has Pearsalls silk; maybe I’ll look to see if the price has risen here yet. I saw you could get some at Walmart….$12 a spool. Not this child.

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