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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.

David Pro­fumo

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