Brook Fin Wet Fly, and other classic wets on salmon hooks

Brook Fin Wet Fly, my version with the added tag and rib, on a Mustad 36890 size #2 salmon hook.

Brook Fin Wet Fly

I first learned of the Brook Fin wet fly while in ninth or tenth grade through the color plates of a book titled, The Complete Book of Freshwater Fishing by P. Allen Parsons. It was illustrated there with other wet flies, drys, streamers, bucktails, and nymphs. The same paintings were originally published in H. J. Noll’s Guide to Trout Flies and How to Tie Them. I did not possess a copy of Noll’s book until the late 1990’s. Other than the Fontinalis Fin and Bergman Fontinalis, the Brook Fin was just the third brook trout fin wet fly pattern I had even seen. The Parson’s book lacked tying recipes, so my brother and I were tying many of those patterns solely by interpreting the illustration. In some cases this involved our best guess.

At any rate, the reason for this batch of flies is because one of my customers to whom I had sent a few orders of fancy wet flies and Gray Ghosts for fishing in the Adirondacks, had made a September trip to the Salmon River in New York. While there, using a #6 Brook Fin wet fly I had tied on a Mustad 3399 hook, he suddenly saw a huge, dark shadow trailing his fly. As it came closer he saw that it was a very large Chinook salmon. He saw the fish actually strike and take the fly, at which point the fight was on. He played the fish for over fifteen minutes until the line went slack. Inspecting the hook, he discovered it was still attached, but had been bent open enough to lose its purchase in the fish’s jaw. He and his companions estimated the size of this fish at around 25 – 30 pounds.

He e-mailed me to say that he wanted more, and wondered about getting some of these flies on stouter hooks. The flies on these Mustad 36890 size #2 irons are the end result. Somewhere along the line, I inadvertently stopped including the tail of black hackle fibers on the brook fin, probably because I started tying the pattern from memory and hadn’t checked the photo for some time; I simply forgot to include it. The addition of the oval gold tinsel tag and rib is added to strengthen the rear of the floss body and also to protect the stem of the palmered black hackle. I love the added accoutrement of the gold tag and rib. I had never dressed traditional trout flies on salmon hooks before, but for bigger fish, it makes perfect sense. I really like the appearance of these patterns on the black, up-eye salmon hook. These flies are certain to work for steelhead, lake-run salmon, and perhaps even a few big browns that visit the Lake Ontario tributaries in the fall of the year.

Brook Fin Wet Fly

Thread:  White Danville Flymaster 6/0 for body, black for head

Hook: Mustad 36890 or other brand of up-eye salmon hook

Tag:  Fine oval gold tinsel

Tail:  Black Hackle fibers

Hackle:  Black tied palmer

Rib:  Fine oval gold tinsel

Body:  Orange floss

Wing:  White, black, and orange, in equal parts, married

Head:  Black

I also tied six other patterns on size #4 salmon hooks, the Alexandra, Golden Duke, Neverwas, Cupsuptic, Golden Doctor, and Dr. Burke. These additional photos and their recipes will be added to this topic later today.

1/2 Dz. Brook Fins, dressed on #2 Mustad 36890 salmon hook (Bastian variation with added tag & rib)

Alexandra

Alexandra

Hook:  Dai-Riki 899 size #4

Thread:  Red Danville 6/0 Flymaster

Tag:  Dark red floss

Tail:  Peacock sword fibers

Rib:  Oval silver tinsel

Body:  Flat silver tinsel

Hackle:  Black (also red, claret, or deep wine)

Wing:  Peacock sword, may have scarlet splits on each side

Head:  Red, (Wapsi lacquer)

Dr. Burke

Dr. Burke

Hook:  Dai-Riki 899 size #4

Thread:  Black Danville 6/0 Flymaster

Tail:  Peacock sword fibers

Rib:  Oval silver tinsel

Body:  Flat silver tinsel

Hackle:  Yellow

Wing:  White goose

Cheek:  Jungle cock

Head:  Black

Cupsuptic

Cupsuptic

Hook:  Dai-Riki 899 size #4

Thread:  Black Danville 6/0 Flymaster

Tail:  Yellow hackle fibers

Hackle:  Red tied palmer

Rib:  Oval silver tinsel

Body:  Flat silver tinsel

Wing:  Dark brown mottled turkey with marrow strip of guinea fowl over

Head:  Black

Golden Duke

Golden Duke

Hook:  Dai-Riki 899 #4

Thread:  Black Danville 6/0 Flymaster

Tail:  Red goose or duck quill sections

Body:  Rear 2/3 black floss, front 1/3 flat gold tinsel

Hackle:  Black

Wing:  Scarlet goose wing quill sections

Head:  Black

Golden Doctor

Golden Doctor

Hook:  Dai-Riki 899 #4

Thread:  Red Danville 6/0 Flymaster

Tail:  Red, yellow, green goose or duck, married

Body:  Flat gold tinsel

Hackle:  Claret

Wing:  Gray mallard (whole feather tips paired on this specimen), with splits of blue and red goose shoulder over

Neverwas (sorry about that one stray hackle barb, I was in a hurry and took only this one photo before shipping the flies to my customer).

Neverwas

Hook:  Dai-Riki 899 #4

Thread:  Black Danville 6/0 Flymaster

Tail:  Peacock sword fibers

Hackle:  Green (I used olive on this one)

Body:  Peacock herl

Wing:  Orange goose wing quill sections

Head:  Black

These six patterns were dressed on Dai-Riki 899 salmon / steelhead hooks and have a more aesthetically pleasing bend, and the wire diameter is finer, the return loop is tapered, and they are chemically sharpened, overall a better hook than the vintage 36890 Mustad’s I used on the Brook Fins.

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24 comments on “Brook Fin Wet Fly, and other classic wets on salmon hooks

  1. Dan Glover says:

    Beautiful, Don. I love those

  2. Bob Vincent says:

    Hi Don,

    REALLY GREAT.. Hope I can do as well some day.

  3. Kelly L says:

    Don, you knocked these right out of the park. Absolutely stunning work.

  4. Jeff D'Amico says:

    Hi Don,
    Great flies as always! Your posts and new ideas are always an inspiration to get to work tying. I used the last of my orange quills to tie the Brook Fin on the 3399’s, so I’ll have to wait to try my hand at these. Is the orange floss Danville’s Burnt Orange? Can’t wait to see the others especially the Alexandra. Thanks Again!
    Jeff D’Amico

  5. Bruce says:

    Hi Don. Those are neat looking. Where did you find hackle that large for the wings?
    Bruce

    • Hi Bruce:

      Thanks for your compliment! By ‘hackle for the wings’ in your question, I think you mean “quills?” If so, it’s goose wing quill. Larger, longer barbs, though on a couple of the flies I had to use some really large duck quills I had because I ran out of orange goose.

  6. Beautiful looking flies

  7. Bill says:

    Excellent stuff, both the dressings and the photos. I’m certain that customer will be delighted.

  8. Dave Lomasney says:

    Hey Don,

    Very nice lookin Salmon Hook Wets…What puts these flies over the top, is the way the Gloss
    from the black hook and head make the colors of the fur and feathers just POP!… like 3D!

    Dave

  9. This is a great looking set Don! Reminds me of the early steelhead flies. They look amazing for #2 hooks!

  10. Steve Nack says:

    Don,
    These are spectacular! Can’t wait to sit down at the vice and give a few of them a try. Thanks for your beautiful work!!

    Steve

  11. […] Most know Don for his impeccably flawless wet flies and streamers, but steelhead? Don has supersized some classic wet patterns, tying them on salmon hooks and has presented them on his blog. […]

  12. Bruce says:

    Hi Don. Beautiful ties. Where do you find wing quills large enough for tying size 2s, the Brook Fin? Do you use goose quills? I have trouble finding enough duck quills to tie size 8s.
    Bruce

  13. Thanks Darren, Steve, and Bruce. Appreciate your comments guys!
    The quills for these larger flies are goose quills. Though once in a while domestic duck feathers render some #4 wet fly wings.

    Everyone, on a fishing note, my customer has reported back to me that he hooked and landed a very nice Salmon River steelhead on the Neverwas, the orange wing fly. I’m not the least bit surprised!
    Thanks again to everyone!
    Don

  14. Aaron Marzec says:

    Your flies are beautiful. You’re the reason that I tie. Though, I guess it would be more proper to say that Ray Bergman is the reason that I tie, but your photos are a little easier to view than his plates. I was hoping that you could look at my flies on my facebook page, and let me know what you think. https://www.facebook.com/UpperPeninsulaFlies

    Also, I have been in contact with MyFlies.com. I just need to send her out some samples. I have just been extremely busy tying lately. I’ve sold 1023 flies in the last month.

    Aaron

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Aaron;
      Thanks for your comment! Thank you especially for your compliments on my flies, but even more so for your remark about me being “inspiring” to you. I appreciate that very much! The old Bergman color plates are cool to look at, but as you noted, they leave a little to be desired, especially in this age of digital photos, macros, etc.
      I checked out your flies on your fb page, very nice! Well tied, and I see (based on my commercial tying experience), from the diversity and consistency of your work that you are a good tier. Good work! Thanks again for your comment and compliments!

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