The Black King
It is not very often that I feature a fly with little or no historical information. At the very least, I always try to include the original tyers name, its approximate date, whatever historical data is available, and more importantly the recipe. Sadly in this case, with the exception of the recipe, I have failed. Nonetheless, it is an excellent fly and deserves at least a mention in the hope that further information will be forthcoming. The fly obviously pre-dates 1895, as it appears in Kelsons 'Salmon Fly' book, but other than this, very little was found.
One thing I did find, was the numerous contradictions concerning its construction, especially concerning the wing and its rake. As a genuine Spey fly, one would imagine that there would be endless amounts of information and history on this fly, sadly this is not the case, and having spent a week trying to garner information, I had to admit defeat. I would however, welcome any information or comments from any of our followers, to assist in gathering factual information on this old and seemingly forgotten fly.
In Michael Radencich's excellent book, 'Twenty Salmon Flies' he advocates that the wing should be set low so that the tip of the wing is touching the tag, this essentially forms a very low wing profile. Others say that this is historically incorrect, and that the wing should be raised and separated, as shown in my pictured example.
Additionally, I have seen many argue that the hackle should be full body length and should not be stroked below the body, but to wrap it around the body like any normal hackle, allowing it to protrude between the now partially opened wings. The argument being that without a top hackle, the fly is likely to invert itself in the water. On paper this makes sense, but I have yet to test this theory in the field. However, without the original recipe, it is very difficult to say which is the more accurate.
At least there is little argument regarding the construction ingredients. John Hardy's 'Salmon Fishing' 1907 recipe is virtually the same as Kelsons, as too is Pryce-Tannatts from his 'How to Dress Salmon Flies' of 1914 , so at least we have some consistency here, but I would welcome readers feedback if they have any further information on the Spey classic.
George Kelsons Recipe from the 'Salmon Fly' 1895.
Body: Berlin wool three turns, followed by black wool three turns.
Ribs: From far side narrow gold tinsel, from near side silver tinsel same size.
Hackle: From end of body, a black Spey cock hackle, but wound from the root instead of from the point, in the usual direction, thus crossing over the ribs at each turn given.
Throat: Teal, one turn only.
Wings: Two strips of light brown mottled mallard.