The history of the salmon fly has its origins rooted in the flies and lures of ancient times.
Stone carvings in Egypt show fishing was being done with a pole and crude reels before the birth of Christ. The first flies used for fishing were made with feathers or wool tied first on pieces of bone or wood. It wasn't until the fifteenth century that iron hooks were first introduced in the British Isles.
In the 1700s what we today call "Classic Salmon Flies" began to take shape. It wasn't until the late nineteenth and early twentieth century that most of the well known classics were introduced and written about by such authors and George M. Kelson and Dr. T.E. Pryce-Tannatt.
It was during this time that England was a great colonial power with its subjects throughout the world. From India, South America and Africa came the many exotic birds that fed the appetite of the Victorian fashion industry. The Florican Bustard, Speckled Bustard, Golden Pheasant, Chatterer, Cock-of-the-Rock, Toucan, Macaw and Jungle Cock were all relatively easy to obtain during this time and all were to become an important part of the classically dressed salmon fly.
Not all salmon flies we regard as classics today had their origins in England but it was the British that wrote most of the definitive literature on the subject. It is for this reason when we talk about classic salmon flies the old British masters are most often mentioned. The old masters could look at the same fly and see it tied differently. Today with all the modern materials more and more versions of the old classics are being fished. If Major Grant could see the many ways his creation, The Green Highlander, was being tied today he would be pleased.