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Thread: I'm going to get this one wet next week Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
11-18-2005 08:49 AM
wsbailey I dye my materials with natural dyes so I would be very interested in any historical information concerning dyes and salmon flies. Bill
11-16-2005 02:20 PM
flytyer I had heard of the Brown's recipe notebook and had been originally told it was being looked at by a tackle shop in London to evaluate it for possible publishing. I think it was in 1997 I heard of this, and I haven't heard anything about it since. It appears you have cleared up the mystery of why with your info on said tackle shop having lost it. Bummer to way the least.
11-16-2005 08:18 AM
Shaq as a beginner, but fascinated with spey and dee flies, and starting to learn full dress, I am interested in "light" reading on how to dye feathers and all that other stuff, I read Michael R's section on hook making with interest but I am not there yet. I think a nice chapter on how they used to dye, couple that with modern methods to create the same effect would be very interesting reading. Since your book seems to be taking on a historical flair, you should include those. Would be interesting because many of the "Newer" books on the shelves are "Modern techniques" type books.

Sorry for the ramblings, just thinking while writing
11-16-2005 07:32 AM
scottishtrout As there does seem to be interest in the history of Salmon flies on this forum, I thought I would share a bit more information and take the opportunity to ask a couple of questions.

Firstly on the question of the “invention” of the Gardener, I have had access to quite a lot of original material relating to the William Brown business from the late 1800s to early 1900s (including one of the original catalogues). In amongst it all I found various letters, the first a letter from James Harper (uncle of James Harper owner of Browns), this is from around 1905

“Your letter arrived about Gardener Fly the pattern is the very same as I made at Monaltrie House and not Garden. Blacklaw will testify to this also John Harper Dess. First I made three, sent one to John, gave one to Mr Wilkinson tenant at Monaltrie and then one for myself. The three flies in one day landed 4 fish for John. Gentleman sent an order to me for 18 flies the same pattern, being scarce of feathers, I sent the order to Blacklaws of Kincardine O’Neil.

Mr Wilkinson was much disappointed giving it away, he offered me 20 pounds to take out a patent for same, I wish I had done so and stopped the Garden work.

The second a letter from James Harper (owner of Browns) to R B Marston the then editor of the “Fishing Gazette” on the 19th Feb 1908 - I quote from it :

“I have not the personal acquaintance of G.M.K. and would shy of it, but am familiar with his identity from my old Bernard days in the early eighties. He has not left kindly impressions here (on the river Dee) nor on Spey. I marvel at the anxiety of some angling writers for the credit of invention. (Pennel seems another in case). The obvious shallowness of much of the quibbling must undermine any real claim they could establish for respect from future generations.

G.M.K.s “Salmon Fly” and his long list of fearfully overdressed “inventions” is not to my liking, I recall to mind one error by him. He ascribes the “Gardener” to Garden. This fly was “invented” - to repeat his, in such case, ridiculous term - by my uncle James Harper while Gardener at Monaltrie, Ballater. There was, I believe, a real novelty here in the use of Golden Pheasant Topping as a hackle. Well do I remember my boyish difficulty to get this to lie smoothly. This uncle is still alive but this winter has been hard on him”

And just to wrap this up a quote from the obituary of Francis Harper (James Juniors dad) published in The Fishing Gazette 24th December 1898, written by Marston.

“His favourite flies were the Heron (with red wing). the Gardener (invented by his brother James), Jock Scott, Popham, Eagle (with mottled turkey wing), Gordon, Akroyd, Silver Doctor, Black Doctor, and Thunderer, and almost invariably the White Eagle was the fly with which he closed the day.”

The Browns catalogue lists over 560 different salmon flies - I wonder if this is the longest list ever produced - unfortunately the actual dressings are not listed. There once existed a typed notebook called "Mr Browns receipt book" which contained the salmon fly patterns, this was loaned by the owner to a famous tackle shop in London in the 1990’s who have subsequently lost it (thrown out during refurbishment) ! I wonder if any of the forum readers have ever heard of it ?

So my question is, I have discovered a hand written note book of instructions on dying feathers from the 1880s - would this be of interest to the modern tier of salmon flies and should I include it in the book ?

When I publish the book - it will cover the history of Browns business (a lot of this will be about the Phantom Minnow that he invented) and short histories of the other Aberdeen tackle makers (you will be surprised how many there are), it will have some focus on salmon flies and hopefully some nice illustrations of vintage and modern tyings. I’m guessing I’ll produce about 200 copies, with perhaps 20 deluxe with a real fly. What do you think ?
11-15-2005 01:04 PM
flytyer Like Scottishtrout, I agree, it is nice seeing someone tying a fly in the traditional way. I also never cared for P-T's orange body hackle on this fly and find the topping used as a hackle much more pleasing and harmonious.

Nicely done Shaq.
11-15-2005 09:40 AM
Shaq Scottish trout, I thank you for the info, all I had to work with was some grey heron and I have since acquired some JC. I used a long topping for the body hackle. Unfortunately no steelhead molested this fly in 3 likely runs. In fact no steelhead molested any of my flies in 2 straight trips. I am due...
11-15-2005 09:12 AM
Charlie Some very interesting info scottishtrout,

Please let us all know when your book comes out. It sounds like it should also be very interesting.

11-15-2005 06:21 AM
scottishtrout Ah, a well tied Dee fly tied in the tradition way!

The Gardener a very interesting fly that is often tied incorrectly !

I have seen it with a bright orange hackle tied in at the throat, rather than the correct way of tying in the topping from the yellow in the body - I think that this error creeps in from Price Tannants interpretation of the dressing.

I'm interested in what you have used in the hackle - I think Black heron with a drooping Jungle cock is the way it was originaly designed.

Kelson states the correct dressing but wrongly states that it is "one of Garden of Aberdeens best Dee Flies", everyone now thinks it was invented by William Garden (Aberdeen tackle maker). It was actually invented by the Uncle of James Harper who was the owner of William Browns of Aberdeen from the early 1900s. I have good evidence of this from some research I am doing on the history of William Brown and other Aberdeen Tackle makers - eventually this will be a book.....
10-28-2005 09:37 PM
Shaq Thanks Charlie, I still owe you one
10-28-2005 01:47 PM
Charlie Very nice Shaq!

Your flies get better and better every time we see them.

Next week should be good. Water is up across the state and I have been hearing allot about new fish coming in.

Let us know how you do.

10-28-2005 09:46 AM
I'm going to get this one wet next week

The Gardner

Thank you to Charlie for making this fly possible.

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