Brian Burnett: I live in the North East of Scotland and my passion for fly dressing and fly fishing goes back to my early school days when on a small Burn (small stream), I was first introduced to fishing and the interest or obsession has stayed with me ever since.
Traditional flies were the order of the day and names such as Greenwell’s Glory, Peter Ross, Mallard and Claret later to be followed by The Green Highlander and Thunder and Lightning to name but a few, held a special magic for me.
I enjoy and appreciate all aspects of fly dressing and find it extremely stimulating and challenging to learn the different skills and techniques required to dress the wide range of flies and patterns that exists from Classic Salmon patterns to micro patterns for the educated trout.
Dressing Classic Salmon flies has taught me a lot of additional techniques and a lot about proportion that has added additional enjoyment to my fly dressing. Almost all the techniques used in dressing Classic Salmon flies can be used when dressing trout patterns regardless if they are old traditional flies or the more modern patterns.
I like to study the work of past masters in Classic Salmon Flies such as T.E.Pryce-Tannatt and G.M Kelson and admire the way they communicated and documented everything in meticulous detail. Without their books and records a lot of history would be lost to the passage of time.
When reading old reference books, I am continually impressed at the level of detail some of the fly dressers of old went to when dyeing materials, recording in meticulous detail the results of their efforts and the best way to use the material.
Today we are spoiled by the wide variety and quality of fly dressing materials available to us fly makers/dressers, especially when you consider the magnificent range of dubbing materials available. That said, I am always drawn back to natural materials and enjoy the challenge of trying to re-produce the colours as detailed in the old reference books.
To try and obtain a range of subtle colours I spend a lot of time experimenting with natural dyes or shades obtained by using natural dyes such as onion skins. (No point in wasting the skin after you have eaten the onion) My aim is simply to gain a better understanding of the skills used and the problems that were encountered by the fly dressers of days long gone. Achieving that level of understanding will add to the satisfaction I already receive from this fascinating and rewarding obsession.