General Practioner

flytie09

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General Practioner

The GP was originally designed as a prawn or shrimp imitation for Atlantic salmon by an Englishman, Colonel Desmond Drury, in the early 1950s. I would consider these all variations...and it seems everyone has their own take on the famous pattern. Black, purple, natural like these or blue, chartreuse, orange (like the original), gray, use your imagination........

gp.jpg

Hook - Alec Jackson 1.5 Heavy Wire
Tag - Large silver flat tinsel
Tail - Deer tail clump with 2 krystal flash fibers on either side
Body - Wool yarn
Rib - Small silver oval tinsel
Hackle - Saddle hackle on rear half and larger schlappen on front half
Underwing - GP tippet at rear
Wing - 2x ringneck pheasant flank feathers at rear and front sections
Throat - A couple turns of guinea
Head - Black thread and Loon UV cure
 

thomasw

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Great pattern for Steelheading here in BC. Smaller variations, especially in black, work extremely well on stillwaters in the Kamloops region as a leech imitation.
 

ejsell

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Those look really nice and should work well for my waters. Can't wait to tie some up.

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
 

okaloosa

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you are a maestro at the vice...
I enjoy all your photos and flies. thanks for sharing!
 

Lewis Chessman

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I can recommend the original orange fly for A. salmon, happily. It was rather superseded some 30 years later by Ally's Shrimp (Ally McGowans) and began a fall from popularity in Scotland (with anglers!). Ally's excellent shrimp now seems largely eclipsed by the Cascade, tied with more glitz and flash than its predecessors.
Seems crazy to think that the original G.P. is 75 this year. I hope he's enjoying his retirement. ;)
 

flytie09

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I agree Lewis. Anadromous salmon and steelhead have a hard time resisting the old GP. I dug up this interesting article while surfing the web. Worth a look.

Tying the General Practitioner Shrimp fly | Fishmadman.com

Unfortunately, I rarely get to target ocean going fish. These color variations of black, purple and natural should still swing up one of the Great Lake brats even though they've never seen a prawn in their sheltered little lives. Tied on double heavy hooks to get down a little deeper and to help slow down the swing....they should be a fine pattern to mimic a leech, baitfish/goby/sculpin or crawdad swinging across the current (they do swim that way right?).

In the end....we know most fly patterns are designed to simply catch the angler. The GP might be one of the exceptions. I say....whatever you tie on...swing with confidence and hang on.
 

Lewis Chessman

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Thanks for the interesting link. Your post ties in interestingly with a current thread about wet fly techniques. Only yesterday I asked redietz whether doubles are used much (US generally, but Maryland in context) and he thought not much. In Scotland they're almost mandatory for Atlantic salmon. I thought I'd discovered an open market. ;)

Here's a question for you. Given Col. Drury's creation of his treble hook was prior to the G.P., were the first G.P.s tied on trebles?
I have fished them myself in the days when I used trebles and it's a helpful shape to tie bulky, shrimp-like patterns with a bit of weight, so I wonder?
There aren't many A. salmon flies which are tied to actually mimic prey - mimic anything! Maybe that's part of its lasting attraction to our fish? A 'familiar face in the crowd'.
Doesn't explain your fishes' taste, though!

I have read that the stretch of the R. Test Drury was fishing had banned 'the prawn', i.e. a real prawn, often preserved and sometimes dyed, mounted on a 'prawn mount' (a barbed, eyed, needle for the shank, fuse wire tied around prawn to hold it together in the cast). I only know of fishing the prawn with spinning gear and always with an added lead weight just up the line from the bait. I can't imagine it could take the stresses of fly casting techniques. This, I read, was the impetus for the Colonel to come up with a legitimate feathered alternative, necessity being the mother of invention. :)

This is curious to me (from your link):
The pool had overhanging bushes and was impossible to fish in an orthodox way. Mr. Drury knew that a prawn lobbed upstream and drifted down on the salmon, would produce fish on the bank
It doesn't discount the 'banned prawn theory' but is a different explanation for the cause of its origin.
More interesting to me is whether Col. D. first used the G.P. in an upstream cast, mimicking how the real prawn was fished?
Almost every Scottish salmon fly angler I've ever seen on a river casts 'down & across'. I think the first I ever heard of casting a (salmon) fly upstream (on purpose :D ) was on one of Ard's videos a few years ago, so set in our ways are we (well, me). It's something I hope to experiment with this season, in fact.
Cheers,
J.
 

flytie09

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I love your input from the other side of the pond Lewis. I honestly had no clue the true origins of the pattern or how it's done over there. So I did some additional digging. This filled in some additional details. It's all making sense.

The original general practitioner salmon fly was tied on a size 2/0 double hook but was later commercially sold on a size 2 treble which was equally as attractive salmon and very much better holder and hooker of fish.

The General Practitioner Double Hook Salmon Fly

"Better holder and hooker"....I'm personally afraid to use trebles and doubles for steelhead for the amount of damage to their jaw that would occur. With the numbers in the PNW plummeting....I would face hefty fines and it's simply not allowed.

I am surprised that the use of fish friendly hooks with gape size restrictions and limits for single point barbless only for A. Salmon in the UK and the rest of Europe hasn't been pushed . It has here on PNW streams and Great Lakes tribs (but not all). So...no I never see anyone use doubles or triples. I have a pile of them that came with boxes I purchased from over there....I now know why. You need some?

As far as you only seeing 'down and across' swung fly presentation. I'll use any angle that gets me down in the zone.....winter steelhead are not as frisky as Atlantic Salmon...they don't move as far for a swung fly. If I'm at a deeper run and need to get down or work the inside seem deeper......I'll cast straight across river or even upstream to work the fly at the appropriate depth I'm working with. I saw this explained on a Skagit Master video from famed PNW angler Scott Howell...which I can't seem to find any more...but he described this approach in the video. By altering the angle of the cast, sink tip type and weight of the fly....you can swing almost any run anywhere. We git 'r done any way we have to. Tradition is good to know......but not a hard fast rule followed over here.

Perhaps Mr Drury was doing this incognito and landing all those fine fish whilst laughing at the staunch traditionalists. I can say this....to curl a fine fish like this in both hands is impressive. Cheers to you Mr Drury....

esmond drury.jpg

One book I found online that I would be curious to read more of - 'Shrimp and Spey Flies for Salmon and Steelhead' by Mann and Gilespie.....the preview cut me off at pg 46.

Shrimp and Spey Flies for Salmon and Steelhead - Chris Mann, Robert Gillespie - Google Books

Looks like more info on the subject than anywhere else.....anyone have a copy?
 
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Lewis Chessman

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Hi, flytie09. You are right, we're way behind you guys when it comes to using barbless hooks. They are compulsory on some stocked catch and release waters but very few salmon anglers use them as far as I'm aware.
My current river has now banned trebles but many others still permit their use. I've had the odd guest try to slip a treble on without my knowing but always put my foot down.
I stopped using them myself some years ago as in Lewis we can get a lot of finnock - maiden sea trout about 8 oz to 3/4 lb. They have soft, delicate mouths when fresh from the sea and a treble 'aimed at' a salmon will do severe damage to the wee fishes. In fact, the last time I saw a treble used here was a couple of years ago. A chap hooked and lost a 1 lb 1/4 sea trout and was bemoaning his misfortune.
I suggested he try four hooks next time. :rolleyes: ...... :flame:

There used to be a fair bit of debate about the hooking qualities of trebles, doubles and single hooks here. Yes a treble has three points and has more chance of gaining a second hold in the mouth if the first hold gives but ..... can the third, upper point be used a leverage by the fish to weaken the hold and escape? To me now it's a moot point. :)

Thanks for the offer of the hooks but I'm well stocked, cheers. Anyway, you need them for posts like this one. ;)

While we lag behind in hook etiquette we've come a long way regarding fish care whilst removing the hook and catch and release. Sadly a decade or more of C&R doesn't appear to have influenced catch rates but I'm sure it should still be practiced where stocks are poor.
Twenty-odd years ago I caught fish for a small system's hatchery brood stock. The fish were all fly-caught, revived in a net and transferred to large crates periodically located along the banks. Out of perhaps 100 fish we only ever lost two - and whether being caught contributed to their death we don't know. I thought that was a pretty good survival rate. In the cage, they were safe from the otters anyway!

They are pretty robust fish really, and when you consider the terrain they must run and falls they must climb it's not that surprising. I've yet to see a salmon launch itself onto the bank in a blind, reckless leap, then flap itself back in over rocks and gravel but it does happen. I have found them in the boat of a morning where they've stranded themselves overnight.
Breakfast, then. Gillie's perks. :)

Similarly, we probably lack behind you guys and the Scandi nations in tactical development. Although Spring salmon tend to lie and run deep in the colder water they will rise up for a fly more readily when about 62' F is reached - April/May - and then floating lines come to the fore, i.e. there's seldom a need to get deep (on the waters I've known, anyway). Perhaps that's why so little 'up & across' is seen.

We tend to use heavy, long tubes on sinking lines for Spring fish - you have to get down to them, almost hit them on the nose.
However, once the water has warmed the fish will come up, even to the surface for a fly - but, it is said, never down! And they begin to prefer smaller flies like size 6s, 8s and even 10s.
Richard Waddington suggested that this was because when at sea and feeding in cold water their prey is large herring-like fish. But when their migration takes them through warmer water they feed on shrimp and prawn and other smaller creatures. On returning to fresh water the latent memory of temperature/prey size affects their behavior and, accordingly, the size of fly they will take. It's an interesting theory from an interesting, innovative writer. I recommend his books to anyone visiting the Spey and similar Highland rivers.

I don't have that Chris Mann book but I do have his 'Complete Illustrated Directory of Salmon Flies' next door. The text is bound to be similar and I'll look up the G.P. tomorrow and report back. :)

I have to say, the Colonel does look like a decent chap. Old school, but a kindly face.
Yours aye,
James.

Edit: I think those fine salmon are tailed and on sticks which Col. D is holding - not their tails!
 

Lewis Chessman

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Here we go, from Chris Mann's enormous book. It's just stuffed full of flies, with just a little blurb with each. He gives about 10 variants saying, " .... until the arrival of Ally's Shrimp it was probably the most widely used of all shrimp flies. It has also been very influential on the steelhead fisheries of the North American west coast ....."

Many UK variants shown are based on various orange hues while of the steelhead patterns given (Black, Black Marabou (Gallagher), Improvised Practitioner (Kinney), Simplified Practitioner (Canada), two are orange, two are black.
He also shows two of Gordon McKenzie's 'Hairy Practitioners', no-feather flies where the 'hackles' are produced by placing hair in a dubbing loop and then winding like a normal hackle.
The technique, he says, can be applied to any feather-hackled fly.

Let me know if you want any recipes.
James.
 
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