A couple weeks back we put together a step by step on how to tie the Colburn Special, a traditional hairwing pattern for salmon and steelhead. Traditional salmon flies are no less productive than they were 100 years ago, and more and more anglers these days are finding the joy in not only tying, but fishing the ‘classics.’
Therefore, today we continue the trend with a great post from Stuart Foxall on another traditional style of salmon patterns, Spey style flies. More specifically, how to tie the the Lady Caroline.
The Lady Caroline – Tying Instructions
As the name implies, spey style fly patterns were originally used on the River Spey, and are some of the oldest yet prettiest of all salmon fly styles, probably dating back nearly 200 years. There are a number of characteristics common in most spey style flies, including the following materials:
Longer shank hooks.
Usually no tail.
Bodies made from berlin wool, pigs wool, or seals fur dubbings.
Long flowing coq or heron body hackles.
Bronze mallard tented wings.
Some of these materials may sound exotic, but when they were first tied, these were the materials available to game keepers on the Scottish sporting estates during the Victorian age.
One of the most well known of the Spey flies is the “Lady Caroline.” It is one of only two spey style flies that actually has a tail and has been mentioned in numerous historic salmon fishing books over the years. Roderick Haig-Brown used it extensively for steelhead in British Columbia, and as such, it is still a firm favorite in many steelheaders fly boxes as well.
It is very much worth while having a few of these flies in your fly box, if only for a bit of nostalgia!