Bob's Big Magic Marker
Tying Speys with All New Colors
Text & images by Bob Blumreich

markerpen_spey.jpg 20KbMany of the old Scottish Spey and Dee type flies called for materials that are now illegal under numerous state, federal, and international laws. Other materials are available, but so expensive that they're not practical to use on fishing flies. As ethical tyers and anglers, we need substitutes that will maintain the character of the old flies, not break any laws, and not require a second mortgage to buy. Here's a little trick to imitating heron belly hackles. The natural feather has a white center, with black tips on each flue. Dying the feather leaves the tips black, and the center white part takes the color. Using a black permanent marker pen to stain the tips of a colored marabou feather creates a very natural looking imitation of heron hackle. The solvents in the ink burn the excess fuzz from the flue, and make it look very much like the real thing. The feather will get matted, so allow it to dry, and then brush it out with a piece of Velcro. Using colors other than black on the tips will give some "hot" combinations for steelhead flies.  Try this variation on the old PNW standard:

Polar Shrimp Variation
(shown above)

Hook any steelhead/salmon model
Body hot orange SLF or similar
Rib oval gold tinsel
Hackle red tipped-orange marabo
Throat red dyed mallard flank
Wing narrow strips of white goose
Head red


A right handed tyer will strip the left side of the body hackle
before tying in by the tip. Wrap the hackle close behind the rib, from the 2nd or 3rd turn of tinsel. This depends on how dense the tyer wants the finished fly.
Use dubbing needle to pick thru the hackle fibers while wrapping the counter rib. The wire is wound in the opposite direction to the rib & hackle, in order to bind down the hackle stem, & reinforce it against bite-thru's
Throat hackles are usually two turns of doubled feather that has been tyed in by the tip.
Allow the wings to set slightly down on the sides, in order to keep a low profile.
Use of a cautery burner permits close trimming of butts, without disturbing the wing's position. See your Opthamologist.

Tight Ties!