Cast From The Past: Scarlet Eagle Salmon Fly

Photo Credit: Steve Woit

This Scarlet Eagle classic salmon fly was tied in the Irish style by Michael Rogan of the famous fly-tying family from Donegal, Ireland. The fly was brought to the U.S. by Alex Rogan, who opened a tackle shop and then a barbershop in Manhattan, where the fly was displayed on the wall for many years.

From the wing and crest to the quill body and tail, all the material used in this fly is from the scarlet ibis, an exotic bird species. The use of the scarlet ibis quill for the body makes this a particularly rare example.

The Rogan fly tying business survived for five generations since its founding in 1830 in Ballyshannon on the banks of the River Erne.

During the mid-1800s, the great English angling writer Francis Francis visited Ireland and became aware of Michael Rogan’s work and helped promote it. He described his salmon flies as “akin to a piece of jewelry.” The quality of his flies brought him a Medal of Excellence and Diploma at the International Fisheries Exhibition in London in 1883. He created many iconic patterns including the Green Parson, Rogan’s Fancy, and the Ballyshannon.

The family soon became one of the most famous fly dressing families, producing thousands of flies for salmon and trout anglers for nearly 200 years around the world.

Steve Woit is the author of “Fly Fishing Treasures: The World of Fly Fishers and Collecting”, a book featuring profiles of 30 experts and collectors and over 800 photographs of rare and collectible fly rods, reels, flies, books, and ephemera.

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