Farlows Salmon Flies
Compiled by Martin Lanigano’keeffe (Coch-y-bonddu Books, £50)
In THE archives of the venerable tackle emporium Farlows are two pattern books that record and contain actual samples of salmon flies spanning almost a century. now, this fascinating and handsomely illustrated descriptive catalogue of its collection has been compiled by Martin Lanigan-o’keeffe, providing a unique core sample of fly-fishing history.
With rapid improvements in transport, Victorian travellers progressively sought sport further afield and began to request location-specific ‘killer’ flies, of which there was soon a massive proliferation. The Farlows index totals some 800 patterns, of which 695 are reproduced here in colour, from such still familiar names as Blue Charm and Jock Scott to sadly forgotten splendours (Rob Roy, Dublin Fusilier, Ursula), many of them exotic and elab- orate, with married wings, heads of gold thread or now unobtainable ingredients such as Florican Bustard or Himalayan Pheasant.
Publisher Paul Morgan is to be congratulated on the quality of this esoteric volume’s production, as is Mr Lanigan-o’keeffe himself for his painstaking expertise in unravelling various archival anomalies—duplicated names, multiple permutations, cross-references to the firm’s catalogues— so that, where feasible, each pattern receives alphabetically its own description, provenance and anecdotal history.
This should prove of great value to contemporary fly-dressers wishing to replicate tyings of the past (from about 1870 to 1964), as well as appealing to collectors and anglers fascinated by all aspects of the Bibliotheca piscatoria.
If you want to discover the identity of Dendy Watney, why certain Snow Flies are so hackled (to guard against the depredations of kelts’ teeth) or the origin of a Grande Breve Tocate feather, this is the book for you.