Today's fly is the classic Lady Caroline Spey. The original Lady Caroline spey fly is a traditional Atlantic salmon fly and derives its name from Lady Caroline Gordon-Lennox, who was the daughter of the Duke of Richmond and Gordon at Gordon Castle, Banffshire County, Bellie Fochabers Parrish, Scotland. This pattern is legendary among Atlantic Salmon flyfishers with many versions and variations developed. It has a loyal following on our west coast for Pacific salmon and steelhead as well.
The materials for the Lady Caroline vary by availability and what you are willing to spend to dress this very drab looking fly. The spey hackle that was originally specified is Gray Heron. Many of you know that this is not legal in the United States so substitutes are required. These substitute materials should in no way change the appearance and ability to catch fish. Many tiers shy away from spey style flies because of the use of exotic materials and cost. For the Lady Caroline fly, if you don't have Golden Pheasant use Ringneck Pheasant, and if you don't have bronze mallard try mallard flank or teal dyed a bronze/copper color. On my last trip to Maine for son Josh's U Maine graduation I tried to stop at Gayland Hachey's Rod and Fly Shop in Veazie. But time restraints didn't allow that to happen (plus Gayland was fishing the Restigouche!) In his shop he as many (around 25 or so) dyed colors of Mallard. Picture a Black Bear Green Butt Spey dressed with black dyed mallard for the win
ith black dyed mallar
for the body hackle.I think it would be awesome!
General Characteristics of the Early Spey Flies:
* Drab, somber tones to the body. Made of pig's wool, seal's fur, mohair, or yarn.
* Usually no tail, although the Lady Caroline is a notable exception (fibers from a golden pheasant breast feather).
* Long, flowing hackles - heron or coque - the length of the body. Normally tied in at the rear of the hook by the root and wrapped forward, often counter to the rib(s). Now substitutes are almost always used.
* Multiple Ribs - wide turns (wound "not too closely") of flat tinsel of varying colors, oval tinsels, lace, and twist. No set rules about number of turns. The second or third rib material can secure the body hackle, wrapped counter to it.
* Throat - if present, of teal or guinea except Lady Caroline which is a red breast feather from a Golden Pheasant
* Wings - tented slips of bronze mallard (turkey was also used). Low to the body, not extending beyond the hook bend. Top forms a smooth 'keel less boat' placed upside down
Bronze Mallard was the wing material of choice for early spey flies but almost any feather can be used including turkey. The one characteristic that sets a Spey Fly from A Dee Fly is that the wing is low to the body forming a tent over the top. When using 'duck feathers' for a wing (teal, mallard, bronze mallard, shoveler, etc.) the wing is easier to set if the material is tied in at the base of the 1/4" (or so) slip of feather. This area is usually lighter in color and much softer. The harder darker color if used as the tie in point will almost always results in a wing that will split. The right matching feather should be tied in away (the far side) from you and the left feather tied in nearest to you. It is critical to get a feather that matches the hook length. I have read many accounts on how long the wing should be. The general consensus is that the wing should be no longer than the bend of the hook and no shorter than the point of the barb. The point of the feather should be UP
the natural curve of
the feather is sloping back to the hook eye. Tough to do!!! One should practice practice practice to get the wings to look right and then practice some more! Some tie the wing in as the pair and others set one wing at a time. I guess whatever works for you. The key item is not to build up the end of the body which causes the wing to sit at too high an angle. Little build up means a lower wing angle. As I said, all of this takes practice to get it to work.
Tying Thread: white 70 denier Ultra Thread
Hook: Daiichi Alec Jackson Nickel Spey size 3 in standard wire
Tag: Largarten flat gold tinsel
Tail: red breast feather Golden Pheasant
Body: just about any material that gives an olive-brown body; originally 1 part olive to 2 parts brown Berlin wool; the fly as photographed was 1 part olive dubbing to 2 parts brown dubbing (or maybe I had it the other way around.<g>.)
Rib: Largarten medium size flat gold tinsel counter ribbed with Largartun fine gold oval tinsel to reinforce the body hackle wrapped after the body hackle is applied Body Hackle: Blue-Eared Pheasant (should start at the second turn of tinsel but the hackle was short so the tie in point was adjusted)
Wing: Matched pair of Bronze Mallard (see the above note on setting the wings)
Throat: 2 turns of red breast feather from a Golden Pheasant
Head: black 70 denier Ultra Thread double whip finished; 3 coats Cellire varnish
Owner: Quebec Sporting