Classic Speys [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Classic Speys

08-01-2003, 08:56 PM
Here are a couple classics. Somehow the silk on the Sol Duc turned pink in the scanning process. In fact, it is in actuality far more bright a shade of orange than the hackles! Interesting how that happened.

-- T.

08-01-2003, 09:38 PM
The Sol Duc Spey is supposed to have a black throat hackle, not teal, gadwall, or pintail. My scanner also doesn't like to reproduce the bright hot orange floss, dubbing, and thread at the fly's head.

09-03-2003, 10:11 AM

Nice dressings...especially the Sol Duc. I like the Teal in your collar as it adds a little detail and gives the fly a bit of transparency. Style and interpretation of style make tying a unique art...although subject to raised eyebrows from 'purists'.


09-03-2003, 12:24 PM
I guess my question for the "purist" is this: "Does your version catch fish any better?"


09-03-2003, 01:33 PM
Igor and Bob K,

The answer is no. The original Glasso dressing is just a little bit darker than his Sol Duc, which uses G.P crest for a short tail, TEal face hackle, and a G.P. crest as a wing topping. If you use teal instead of black for the face hackle, it in effect is nothing more than a Sol Duc fly without the G.P crest feather, and I'd rather tie and fish the Glasso flies as he designed them because of the progression from light to dark that they have.

09-03-2003, 02:28 PM
I think PastorD has more than captured the 'spirit' or character of Mr. Glasso's Sol Duc Spey. The proportions are wonderful, it's obviously dressed with great care and respect to the fly's originator - there IS a nice transition from dark to light (as per the original Rx) and I'd wager it would result in as many hook-ups as the 'original'.

So, sans 'GP crest for the short tail, teal face hackle, and GP crest as a wing topping'*, he's tied a lovely Sol Duc Spey that'll catch fish.

With all due respect, Humbug on nitpicking and experts who have to have the last word on tying.


*What is your source for these components in Mr. Glasso's original dressing of the Sol Duc?

09-03-2003, 05:50 PM

Pastortd ties a very nice fly that takes a back seat to no one; however, there is a problem in my opinion with changing the basic coloration of a fly from the original unless you rename it. Take the Hendrickson dry fly for trout, if we substitute a cream or golden brown body when we dress it, it is no longer a Hendrickson. Likewise, if we change the body on a Jock Scott to gold tinsel, it is no longer a Jock Scott, it is rather the Gold Jock Scott. And if we eliminate the tail from a comet it is no longer a comet. The same standard should apply to steelhead flies.

My original source was a set of Glasso's flies that a friend of mine who knew and fished with Glasso has been given as a gift from Glasso himself. Trey Combs also lists the exact dressing (again based on the flies that Glasso tied and gave to him) in "Steelhead Fishing and Flies" and in "Steelhead Fly Fishing. I have also seen the exact same dressings in a set of Glasso flies that Alec Jackson has that were tied by Glasso (who was his fishing companion and friend) and in a set that the Whatcom County Museum has on loan from Ralf Wahl, which were also tied by Glasso. Helvie's "Steelhead Flytying Guide" also list the exact dressing I used, as does Shewy's book on spey and dee flies.

In short, the 3 sets of Glasso's flies that were tied by Glasso himself has the dressing I gave, and there have been other print references who used the same dressings as well.

What I meant Glasso's progression of light to dark is not what was in only one fly. It refers to the entire set of Glasso flies. In order from lightest to darkest they are: 1) Polar Shrimp Spey; 2) Sol Duc; 3) Sol Duc Spey; 4) Sol Duck Dark; 5) Courtesan; 6) Orange Heron; 7) Brown Heron; 8) Gold Heron; and 9) Silver (black) Heron. The series as a whole goes from very bright and light to rather dark, and as such, they cover the whole fishing spectrum of weather and water conditions.

09-03-2003, 07:48 PM
It would seem your flytying reference library and acquaintances with noted NW tyers who were peers of Mr. Glasso's are vast, Mr. Moderator. I dare say, some visitors to this forum might even be impressed.

The point still remains that a tyer dressed a fly (beautifully I might add) that maintained the integrity of the original design and remains worthy of calling it by it's original name. Just my humble opinion.

It's also my opinion that your comments about Pastor D's work were inconsiderate and arrogant. A little grace and tact would have been in order, I think.

Who sets and governs these 'standards' you mentioned?

That being the case, do you expect a tyer to rename a Green Butt Skunk to a 'Green Butt Calftail' because it was tied with the same? Are my Purple Perils no longer Purple Perils because they were fashioned on a tube instead of iron?

I amend my last post...Humbug AND PHOOEY on nit-pickers and self-proclaimed experts.


Stu Farnham
09-03-2003, 09:09 PM

Flytier is right about the recipe for the Sol Duc Spey as tied by Syd Glasso.

On the other hand, when does a fly cease to be faithful to the original? I believe Glasso tied on Partridge low water hooks. Is it not a Sol Duc Spey if tied on a Bartleet or an Alec Jackson? What if you use synthetic floss instead of silk, or a seal substitute? Mylar tinsel? And you'd best split your silk floss to form a dubbing loop for the seal.

My reaction when I first saw Flytier's response was that it came across -- intentionally or not -- as dismissive of the very nice work Thomas does. Another approach would have been to say something like "Nice flies, PastorD. I notice you used teal for the throat on the Sol Duc Spey. Glasso's pattern called for black hackle, and I really liked the progression from light flies to dark that he established. I don't think the teal works as well in that regard as the original black."

Thomas is a wonderful fly tier. I admire his work and am always happy to see it. I hope that he's not discouraged from coming back to this forum.

Conversely, I've learned a lot from Flytier's postings, and value both the information and the feedback he's provided to me.


09-04-2003, 03:35 PM

You're right, I should have posted my initial response with different wording. My intention was not to disparage Pastortd's work because his tying is impeccable. The intention was simply to have the Glasso dressing as originated and tied by Glasso himself displayed and the dressing listed (Glasso tied on Sealy low-water hooks, which are no longer available. The Partridge Barleets were not on the market when Glasso was alive, they came after Alec moved his hooks from being made by Partridge to Daiichi around 1989). That is why I mentioned in a posting other than my first one on the thread that Pastortd is an excellent tyer.


A fly should be tied true to color in body, wing, ribbing, tail, butt, hackle, tag, etc. Wehter you use calf tail of polar bear or artic fox is of no consequence. Iis a Jock Scott any less a Jock Scott if tied with a hair wing composed of hair comprised of the colors of the original feather wing Jock Scott, of course not! Nor is tying a Purple Peril on a tube instead of a hook changing the fly, it is still a Purple Peril if it uses the same colors for body, wing, hackle, etc.(Stu this is what you were getting at, and you are correct.)

However, if you use black bear hair for a wing on a "Green-Butt Skunk" it is no longer a "Green-Butt Skunk". changing the wing to black turns the fly into a "Green-Butt, Black Bear" (a fly well-known to Atlantic Salmon fishers in North America). Likewise, changing the purple body of the "Purple Peril" to something close such as burgundy changes it into a different fly from the "Purple Peril".

In similar fashion, leaving the tail and topping off of a fly does not change the fly into a new fly or into an already existing fly of a different name. It is still the original fly tied as a variation. There is nothing wrong with doing so; however, the tyer should acknowledge that it is a variation of the fly and not call it the name of a different fly.

Nit-picker, no. A stickler for accurately naming a fly, yes. Otherwise, confusion reigns and we have no way of knowing what someone was using if he says he was using a Purple Emperor instead of a Neuron Cherry Bomb Spey.

09-04-2003, 05:26 PM

Who ARE you?

I found your comments to me in your last post some of the condescending piffle I've ever read.

Do you think I needed a lesson on the taxonomy and/or morphology on the Green Butt Bear vd the Green Bunk Skunk?

How patronizing of you!

Humbug on sticklers and wind-bags, say I.


09-04-2003, 05:39 PM
Cmon Igor. We do not need flame wars on this site. Not one of your posts has been on the constructive side since you joined the forum. If you have a personal beef with Flytyer lets keep it off the site.

Flytyer acknowledged his err in tone to pastord, (if you knew Flytyer you would know his point was not to knock pastords ties in the least) what else do you want?

If you look at the history of this forum we are all a civil bunch and respect EVERY tyers work.

It is only a web forum. Please try not to take it so personal. No malice was intended on anyone's part.

Lets get back to tying,

-sean (FFF admin)

09-04-2003, 06:08 PM
I agree completely. I've always valued the tone of friendship and helpfulness of this site. It's unique. People have always seemed to go out of their way when there are differences of opinion to avoid the type of nasty confrontation that's so prevalent on so many other sites. There are differences, sometimes great areas of disagreement, but the participants have always seemed to not want to compromize the site. Lets keep it that way.

09-04-2003, 06:53 PM
Igor, FT's comments were candid and accurate. period. So he cut to the chase..., I have found FT's candor refreshing, his knowledge vast, and in fact, have been trying to work out the details of this digital camera specifically so I can offer up my own work for similar critique...

I just hope he replies when I do!!:D

Stu Farnham
09-06-2003, 02:31 PM
Curioser and curioser...

For a man with as much impact as Syd Glasso has had, the information available about him, and the extant photos of his flies, are relatively rare. In a google search for "Glasso Orange Heron" I came across the following article by Art Lingren in the newsletter of the BCFFF. It includes photographs of a number of his flies tied by Syd for Bob Taylor.

The Sol Duc Spey is tied with a teal throat.

Here's the link:


09-06-2003, 05:35 PM
Thanks for sharing that GREAT link, Stu.

09-06-2003, 10:04 PM

I've never seen a Glasso Sol Duc tied with yellow floss on the body. Nor have I ever seen a Glasso Sol Duc Spey with yellow floss, G.P. breast feather wing, and teal throat. Every Glasso tied Sol Duc that I have seen as the same body as the Orang Heron: fl. orange floss and hot orange dubbing. Likewise, every Glasso tied Sol Duc Spey I have seen has the Orange Heron Body of fl. orange floss and hot orange dubbing, not yellow floss and dark orange dubbing. Nor have I seen a Glasso tied Sol Duc Spey with G.P. breast feather wing; they all were tied with hot orange hackle tips and a black throat. Also, I have not seen a Glasso Sol Duc Spey with the hackle started right at the end of the body. Every one of the ones I have seen had the hackle started at the second turn of tinsel, not the end of the body.

Perhaps Taylor wanted Glasso to tie him some with the body color changed. Interesting to say the least.

Glasso himself (as reported in Fly Tyer back in the 1970's) wrote that the Sol Duc, Sol Duc Dark, and Sol Duc Spey were the forerunners of the Orange, Brown, and Gold Herons. Glasso said that the Orange Heron only changed the hackle to Gray Heron from the Yellow Saddle (actually schlappen) used on all three of the Sol Duc flies. He said that the Gray Heron "muted" the brightness of the Sol Duc series.

Thanks Stu

09-07-2003, 12:13 PM

Thanks for the link - IMO very informative and accurate.


09-08-2003, 01:14 PM
Hmm that is odd, now I am confused. I am curious as to what the original pattern actually is/was.

Bob Ververka tied a Sol Duc Spey for an article on this site a few years back and here it is:

I have read that he studied under Syd Glasso and he uses black for the throat. Will try and send him an email and ask him if he could expand on the original dressings of this fly.

As a newer student in the history of steelhead flies this discussion has been very interesting.


09-19-2003, 12:22 PM
Since I have only been tying fly's for about a year now and speys less than that. I have a question. If it is not the original material would it me more appropriate to append the word "modified" on it? I know sometimes I just cannot find the material I need to complete the fly that I want to tie but I always try to come up with a good substitute. I noticed that the word modified was used the in the John Shewey book for some certain fly's.:confused:

09-19-2003, 12:54 PM

There is much confusion in the fly tying world around Modifications. The long established and accepted meaning for modification, as applied to flies) is found in Kelson, Francis, Blacker, Hardy, etc. in their books from the mid-to-late 1800's. Shewey uses the term correctly in his book and he refers to making some small, insignificant change to a fly. However, he is correct in that if you do this, you should acknowledge that it is a modification of the original fly.

The substitution of materials is perfectly acceptable and is a long standing practice in fly tying, and substituting materials is not a modification provided t he colors remain the same. I.e. using black dyed mallard flank instead of soft black hackle for the throat hackle on a Sol Duc Spey doesn't change the fly's colors at all; therefore, it is still a Sol Duc Spey, or using mottled turkey for speckled bustard in a full-dressed featherwing, or using dyed small feather substitutes for kingfisher, toucan, or Indian Crow.

However, if you change the color of some part of the fly, it becomes either a modification (meaning it is a very small change, i.e. eliminating the tail of a Sol Duc; changing the sequence of the body colors on a multi-color body, from rear 1/2 orange and front 1/2 red to rear 1/2 red and front 1/2 orange; or changing the color hue of the dubbing; i.e. from bright purple to reddish purple), or an entirely new fly (i.e. change the wing color from purple to blue or the body color from red to hot pink or the hackle color from black to wine).

Another modification would be using a different feather for the wing of a dee style fly from brown turkey or G.P. to Reeves Pheasant. This change doesn't change the color of the fly or the overall impression the fly makes; therefore, it is a modification. Another common modification is the elimination or addition of jungle cock cheeks to a fly to either brighten it up or to tone it down.

09-19-2003, 01:54 PM
Thanks very much this helps me alot. I want to make sure that if I do make the mentioned modifications that it is well documented. and yes your absolutely right about the confusion part ! I like to try to keep the flies in the true fashion in which they were tied. I feel very strongly that who ever the originator is this person must have put alot of work in the actual design and feather selection. I know nowadays you cannot always use the actual feather in the original recipe but I believe the Fly tying world understands this and accepts it. Again thanks !:)

09-24-2003, 09:41 AM
I see the point it giving credit for the name and style of a certain fly. But just since I throw a little something different into it doesn't mean I should give it a new name. If I use badger red hackle instead of red thats no reason to give it a new name. I agree with flytyer that to warrant that it should be a significant change. So when do I have to give "my" new fly a name? I think the tyer alone should be judge of that one. I think Igor may agree with me on that one. To each his own.
I believe Mr. Glasso ( like all great fly-tiers) possessed great creativity. To turn out a fly that looks exactly like the last is boring and mind numbing. I can't say for certain but the evidence seems to support he himself tied variants of his own patterns. Did he think these were no less a Sol Duc? Probably not.
I did a swap about a year ago with 11 other tyers. Only 1 pattern was allowed, the GB Skunk. All 12 flies looked different. Thats what is great about fly tying- personal expression.
Attached is a pic of a recently completed Em Durham. True to colors I may add. It's for a swap on another board but if interested in getting in PM me and I'll give you the link.

09-24-2003, 10:08 AM
To think that all of this discussion could have been averted by the original post simply saying,

"MY version of the Sol Duc......"

Then it would have taken all of the wind out of everyone's sails....

Remind me if I ever post here, to say that at the start - I substitute materials if I am out, or modify a pattern to suit myself...

Kick me in the head, if you like, but I tie my flies to catch fish, not to argue fine points of accuracy!


09-24-2003, 11:19 AM
Bravo Lambchop!

I think your comments, " each his own" and "...the tyer alone should be the judge...", have put this thread in to proper perspective.

I shudder to think of the stunted and clinical work we'd produce if we were purged of our individual style, perception(s), and above all, creativity and creative liscense.

So (IMO), throw away the micrometers and the 'rule books', thumb your nose at the 'experts', let your imagination run wild, and have FUN.


09-24-2003, 10:52 PM

Nicely tied fly.

And you hit-the-nail-on-the-head in that as long as a fly is true to color and placement of the materials, it is not a different fly, nor a modification of the fly.


Let us not forget that if you entire a fly tying contest for a classic featherwing salmon fly, you must tie the fly true to pattern or else the fly is disqualified. Substitution of materials is allowed; but you cannot change the color or placement of the materials. This has been the cast for over 100 years and is the long established norm of fly tying compititions. Therefore, it is the defacto standard that we should all ascribe too.

Also, if a person ties flies commercially he better tie all of them the same way and they better also be true to pattern or else he is not going to be in business very long. Shops and customers demand that flies be consistent and true to pattern fly after fly after fly. Even if they want 200 dozen of a particular fly in three different sizes with delivery in 14 days, the tyer better tie them all the same and they better also be true to pattern or the shop will reject them.

If you buy a "Super Duper Flame Spey" this week, you expect to get exactly the same fly, tied in exactly the same way if you buy it again 6 months from now. And you expect that if your friend orders the same fly, he will get exactly the same fly that you have.