A Fly by Any Other Name: The Sculptures of Val Kropiwnicki

“If you want to learn classic Atlantic salmon fly-tying techniques, you’re going to have to sit here and tie an actual classic Atlantic salmon fly.” 

That was the line I drew in the sand the day my friend Val Kropiwnicki sat at my kitchen table, hungry to learn how to dress the most ornate flies in history. He reluctantly agreed. We tied the Helmsdale, a simple, strip-wing pattern from George M. Kelson’s The Salmon Fly. 

Published in 1895, The Salmon Fly is the most famous of the Victorian-era salmon fly-tying manuals. Although that meant something to me, Val wasn’t as concerned with history or tradition. He sought, simply, technique—that’s what he needed to execute the sculptural ideas he had in mind… 

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