Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Brown and Bright-Green Simplified Deep Sparkle Pupa


Hook:

12-18
Thread:

Dark brown
Body:

One-third olive Sparkle Yarn; two-thirds bright green acrylic Craft fur
Hackle:

Dark red grouse dressed sparsely, wrapped one turn
Head:

Brown marabou strands



With his seminal Caddisflies (1981), Gary LaFontaine changed the way anglers and fly tiers looked at caddisfly representation. His signature Deep Sparkle Pupa introduced anglers to the synthetic Sparkle Yarn for representing the air bubbles trapped between the molting exoskeletal shuck and body of a hatching caddisfly. The dressing itself has a clear soft-hackle heritage, though the body is perhaps better designed to trap air bubbles that enhance the natural sparkle of the synthetic dubbing, and the hackle itself is so sparse as to be almost nonexistent. The head, however, would be at home on any dressing historical angler fished, like dressings of the Winter Brown and Dark Spanish Needle stoneflies or the Light Sedge caddis dressing.

The Brown and Bright-Green Deep Pupa is second on LaFontaine’s list of primary patterns:

"HOOK:   Mustad 94840
WEIGHT:  lead or copper wire
UNDERBODY:  one-third olive Sparkle Yarn and two-thirds bright green acrylic Craft fur (mixed and dubbed
OVERBODY:  medium olive Sparkle Yarn
HACKLE:  dark grouse fibers (long wisps along the lower half of the sides)
HEAD:  brown marabou strands or brown fur"

LaFontaine chose to designate a more traditional soft hackle style dressing of his Deep Sparkle Pupa as "Simplified" to avoid the confusion among anglers who purchased commercially-tied Deep Sparkle Pupas. He created this version because "fly-fishing friends urged" him to design "an optional recipe minus the overbody, for easier and quicker tying." He notes reservations about the effectiveness of the simplified dressing, questioning "how effective this type is compared to the regular pattern. They are much better than any drab-bodied creations, but they are not quite as bright, nor do they trap air bubbles quite as well, as the overbody style." He prefers the overbody "regular type" for his own angling.

Authors like Bob Wyatt have recently questioned LaFontaine's premise in designing the Deep Sparkle Pupa pattern. In What Trout Want (2013), Wyatt argues that the "gas bubble phenomenon is undocumented in any scientific study because pharate caddisflies don't exude a gas that creates a bubble between their instar cuticles," and he points out that the "lack of evidence in itself is not proof that no such insect or behavior exists" and promises "when that proof is produced, I'll be happy to eat my baseball cap." Nevertheless, LaFontaine's pattern is, as Wyatt notes, "a very successful trout fly," and the fly itself remains, if not a strict imitation, at least "another very good attractor pattern."

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Maxwell's Red and Blue

This dressing uses a brownish hare’s fur from a hare’s neck. Taking a cue from the name of the dressing and the hackle, it assigns red tying thread.
Hook:

12-18
Thread:

Red
Tail:

Red cock hackle
Rib:

Small gold wire
Body:

Brownish tan hare’s neck
Hackle:

Red cock hackle



In the third edition of Modern Fly Dressing (1950), Roger Woolley includes a pair of flies, Maxwell's Red and Maxwell's Blue, on his list of “Devon and West Country Wet Flies.” He dresses Maxwell’s Red simply, as above:

Body.—Hare’s flax, ribbed gold wire
Hackle and Whisks.—Red cock.”


This dressing uses a brownish hare’s fur from a hare’s neck and blue tying thread, though blue dun thread would create a more impressionistic dressing. However, in the spirit of the fly's namesake, a brighter blue is likely preferable to a more subdued shade. 

Hook:

12-18
Thread:

blue dun
Tail:

Dark dun cock hackle
Rib:

Small silver wire
Body:

Brownish tan hare’s neck
Hackle:

Dark dun hackle



Woolley dresses Maxwell’s Blue with:

Body.—Hare’s flax, ribbed silver wire
Hackle and Whisks.— Medium to dark-blue dun cock.”

Although Woolley makes no explicit attribution for the fly, the namesake is Sir Herbert Maxwell, who believed that the color of a lure is less important in catching a fish than size and presentation. In British Fresh-Water Fishes (1904), Maxwell offers a reason why perch might be said to have superb vision and notes that “the colour sense in fish has been the subject of much controversy among anglers, some of whom are anxiously particular about the precise hues acceptable to surface-feeding fish. My own experience goes to convince me that salmon, and even highly-educated chalkstream trout, are singularly indifferent to the colours of the flies offered to them, taking a scarlet or blue fly as readily as one closely assimilated to the natural insect. Probably the position of the floating lure, between the fish’s eye and the light, interferes with any nice discrimination of hue from reflected rays.” He reiterates the point in while discussing salmon fishing in Fishing at Home and Abroad (1913), suggesting that “it matters not one spin of the farthing whether the prevailing hue of a fly be red or blue, yellow or black, or an equal combination of many hues; and the only important consideration is that the lure be of suitable size and be give life-like motion.” Yet for all the polite force of his assertion, Maxwell confesses: “Well, that is the conclusion to which I have been driven malgré moi; but such is the weakness of the human intelligence that I have found it beyond my strength to act upon it,” and “consequently, I suppose I spend as much time as anybody else at the outset of a day’s fishing in hesitating” over which fly to fish first.  

Maxwell’s argument might easily be dressed on a fine wire hook with pale ginger tails and hackling, a pale blue dun wing, and a body of pink silk ribbed with gold tinsel and then be cast across a choppy run on the Beaverkill or Willowemoc, after the fashion of George LaBranche and his Dry Fly and Fast Water (1914). Unlike Maxwell, however, LaBranche felt that presentation was more important than color, shape, and size.