Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Canon Fly; or, Down-hill Fly; later, the Oak Fly; and, the Down Looker

This dressing assigns a specific thread to the pattern, substitutes ruffed grouse tail for bittern (a protected species in the United States and Great Britain) and an American woodcock covert for hackle instead of wings.

Thread:

Burnt Orange
Abdomen:

Light orange and brown barred grouse tail 
Hackle:

Woodcock covert 



Both versions of the Art of Angling include dressings for the Canon Fly Richard Bowlker’s dressing (1758) for the Canon Fly lists two ingredients: “His wings are made of the feather out of a woodcock’s wings; and his body of a bittern’s feather.” The natural, he explains, “is to be found on the butts of oaks, and other trees near the water-side, with his head commonly downwards; for which reason he has generally obtained the name of the Down-hill fly.” He believed that the fly was “bred in the balls that grow on the boughs of large oaks, commonly called oak apples.” 


This dressing also substitutes ruffed grouse tail for bittern.


Charles Bowlker’s Art of Angling (1774) adds a head to the two ingredients his father originally included for the Canon Fly, and he changes the hackling: “His wings are made with a feather out of the wing with the partridge; his body with a bittern’s feather, the head with a little of the brown part of hare’s fur: The hook, No. 7.” He noted that the natural “comes about the sixteenth of May, and continues about a week in June, to be found in the buts of trees, with his head always downwards.”

 A cursory survey of modern angling literature suggests that the Canon Fly is less popular with anglers—Ernest Schwiebert, for instance, does not list the Canon Fly in Nymphs (1973) as one of the Bowlkers’ more enduring dressings—so the historical dressings of the Canon Fly here chronologically follow the Bowlkers’ in ascending order. The elder Bowlker lists many flies common to contemporary angling manuals that he held in low regard: “There are many other Flies taken notice of in some other treatises of angling, which may probably be of use in some rivers; the principal of which I shall just mention to satisfy the curiosity of my brother anglers; but I never think it worth while to make any of them artificially.” His son, Charles, repeats this list, and both make mention of the Oak Fly.

In The Angler’s Manual; or Fly-Fisher’s Oracle (1836), John Turton of Yorkshire lists a hackle he calls the Oak Fly, No. 34, which seems to be a dressing of the Canon Fly that the Bowlkers describe. Like their insect, the one he seeks to imitate hatches in May and his imitation, like the one advocated by Charles, uses partridge hackle in front of a dingy, orangish-yellow body similar to the bittern body that both Bowlkers use. Turton dresses it “with yellow silk: wing, partridge’s rump feather, without moon; body, yellow silk, ribbed with a strong black horse-hair, light brown down under wing.”

This dressing of Theakston’s Oak Fly (or downlooker) uses primrose Pearsall’s Gossamer Silk thread ribbed with silk buttonhole twist – Coats & Clark’s 184 rust, size D – for a the body and a speckled hen hackle, as Theakston suggests, in place of hackles and wings.




Michael Theakston lists the “Oak Fly (or downlooker)” as the 56th fly in his List of Natural Flies (1853) that is similar to the Bowlkers’ and Turton’s patterns. Theakston’s fly also hatches in the middle of May and is “a land fly, found often on the buts of oak, ash, or other trees; generally with their heads downwards.” He explains that the artificial is “dressed with various materials: wings from the woodcock or partridge; and winged and legged with a bittern hackle, or a yellow brown freckled hen; body, yellow or pale amber silk, with open rounds of deep red brown; shoulders, tinged with water-rat or squirrel’s ashy fur.”


This dressing of Jackson’s Down Looker substitutes a dark hare’s ear thorax for the woodcock wings Jackson prescribes, and it uses orange Pearsall’s Gossamer Silk for the body, ribbed with silk buttonhole twist – Talon 120, a lead color, size D.


John Jackson’s Practical Fly-Fisher (1853) lists the Down Looker, No. 21, as an imitation for an insect that hatches near the end of April on through June. In name and coloration, it is reminiscent of the Bowlkers’ Canon Flies. He dresses the Down Looker thus:

Wings.—Feather from the inside of a Woodcock’s wing.
Body.—Orange and lead-coloured silk neatly ribbed.
Legs.—Hackle of Woodcock, or Grouse hen’s neck.
                    An excellent killer.”

Alfred Ronalds also lists the Canon Fly under its various names as No. 21 in his Fly-Fishers Entomology (1836). In Ronalds’ account, the insect is known as the “Downhill Fly, Oak Fly, Ash Fly, Cannon Fly, Downlooker, Woodcock Fly, Downhead Fly.” His description of the insects behaviors and hatch times is identical to the earlier descriptions in the Bowlkers. His dressing and Jackson’s are similar, apart from the palmered hackle:

BODY. Orange floss silk tied with ash-colour silk thread, which may be shewn at the tail and shoulders.
WINGS. From a feather of the woodcock.
LEGS. A furnace hackle, (i. e. a red cock’s hackle, with a black list up the middle, and tinged with black also at the extremities of the fibres). This should be warped all down the body, and the fibres snipped off again nearly up to where the wings are set on, leaving a sufficient quantity for the legs uncut off.”

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Syl's Nymph

In keeping with established structure of the blog, the fly above is tied on a size 14 hook. Nemes, however, recommends tying the fly on nothing larger than a size 16 hook and, in fact, recommends the 16 over anything smaller: “[i]n my experience and from the experiences of many of my friends who have fished Syl’s Midge, the size 16 works as well as 22. So why sacrifice the bite and power of the larger hook?”

Hook:

16-18
Thread:

Red
Rib:

Extra small copper wire, reverse ribbed
Abdomen:

Peacock herl
Hackle:

Gray partridge from the nape or shoulder



In the second edition of The Soft-Hackled Fly (2006), Sylvester Nemes includes the dressing for his midge pattern. He explains that his soft-hackled midge takes its cues from George Griffith’s classic dry fly midge pattern, the Griffith’s Gnat.

The fly utilizes such popular and historically successful materials that other older possible precedents exist, though Nemes's dressing seems to be the result of much more conscious development in the American tradition independent of Restoration angling convention.

Nevertheless, in the Angler’s Vade Mecum (1681), James Chetham reprints the flies Cotton included in the second part of the Compleat Angler (1676). In both, the Peacock-flie or Fly is a dressing for May: “There is also this Month a flie call’d the Peacock-flie, the body made with a whirl of a Peacocks feather, with a red head, and wings of a Mallards feather.” If Cotton and Chetham intend the flytier to use a speckled or barred mallard's breast feather, then the effect would indeed be much like Nemes's. Nemes, however, suggests that the classic wet fly, the Gray Hackle (more commonly tied now as the Gray Hackle Red), is a more likely precedent. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Iron Blue - Nymph, Flymph (and Little Dark Watchet)

This dressing is on a a size 14 hook, which is larger than Hidy recommends. I use a size 14, however, to maintain the consistency of flies pictured in the blog. I also use red thread in addition to the red Pearsall's Gossamer Silk of the body.

Hook:

16-18
Thread:

Red
Body:

Dark mole fur spun on red Pearsall’s Gossamer silk with two or three turns exposed at the tail
Hackle:

Two turns of starling neck hackle



Vernon S. “Pete” Hidy included this dressing for the Iron Blue Dun as a mayfly imitation, a flymph, in a chapter of The Masters on the Nymph (1979) “The Soft Hackle Nymphs—The Flymphs.” His dressing calls for hooks in "Sizes 16 and 18, mole fur on crimson silk with two turns of silk showing before body is tied; no ribbing; two turns of starling neck hackle.”

Hidy’s dressing is likely derived from the Iron Blue Nymph recommended by his friend and angling companion, James Leisenring. It simplifies Leisenring’s slightly; Leisenring’s soft-hackled fly is pictured below:

Like Hidy's substitution of starling for jackdaw, I substitute a hackle from the neck of a crow.



In The Art of Tying the Wet Fly & Fishing the Flymph (1941), Leisenring gives the dressing that I have largely followed here. He calls it the Iron Blue Nymph:

“HOOK  14,15.
SILK  Crimson or claret.
HACKLE  Two turns of cock Jackdaw throat.
TAIL  Two or three soft white fibers tied very short.
BODY  Dark mole fur spun on crimson or claret tying silk with two or three turns of the silk exposed at the tail.”

Leisenring, in turn, borrowed his dressing from G. E. M. Skues almost verbatim. In Minor Tactics of the Chalk Stream (1910), Skues gives a dressing that he revised in later publications (and that Leisenring includes as the Iron Blue Wingless). The Iron Blue of Minor Tactics, which Leisenring also includes in The Art of Tying, is dressed with:

Wings:  Tomtit’s tail.
Body: Mole’s fur on claret tying silk.
Legs: Medium blue hen with red points.
Hook: No. 0 or 00.”

Skues glosses this dressing with a note: “But see ‘The Way of the Trout With a Fly,’ p. 108, for a much better hackled pattern.” In the The Way of the Trout with the Fly (1921), Skues expresses some regret about this dressing of the Iron Blue: “If I had postponed the publication of ‘Minor Tactics of the Chalk Stream’ for a year or two there is one dressing, that of the iron blue dun, given as a winged fly on p. 28 of that work and so illustrated as the frontispiece, for which I could have substituted a far better dressing of the nymph type.” The primary change he recommends to convert the fly to the “nymph type” is in the hackling:

Hook.—No. 00 round bend.
Body.—Mole’s fur on crimson tying silk, well waxed, the silk exposed for two or three turns at the tail end.
Whisks.—Two or three strands of soft, mobile, white hackle, quite short.
Legs.—The very short, nearly black, hackle from the throat of a cock jackdaw, not exceeding two turns.”

In the Nymph Fishing for Chalk Stream Trout (1939), Skues’s only revision is to qualify how the body should be tied: “Body.—Mole’s fur spun thinly on the tying silk exposing two turns of silk at tail, tapering to thickest at shoulder.”

Historically, dressings of the Iron Blue Dun have figured prominently in most anglers’ attempts at seasonal imitation. In A History of Fly Fishing for Trout (1921), John Waller Hills notes that the "best dressing to-day for a sunk fly is water hen either for the winged or still better for the hackled fly, with a body of silk, either all purple or purple and orange. Or it may be composed of a dark snipe hackle with a purple silk body. Four variations, all good, are given in Pritt." He also mentions G. E. M. Skues's pattern as useful, but suggests it is overly complicated. Hills traces dressings of the Iron Blue as far back as the Restoration author and angler James Chetham, who published his Anglers Vade Mecum in 1681. As Hills reports, Chetham called the fly a Little Blue Dun and dressed it "of the Down of a Mouse for body and head, dubt with sad Ash-coloured Silk, wings of the sad coloured feather of a Shepstare quill." He cites Richard Bowlker next in the development of the Iron Blue, as well as nineteenth century dry fly anglers. 

A few prominent imitations come from T. E. Pritt and the Bolkers, all of whom Hill mentions, as well as from John Jackson and John Turton.

In North-Country Flies (1886), Pritt notes that the Iron Blue is “a famous fly, and is known on most English rivers, and by a great variety of names—the iron blue dun, iron blue drake, little iron blue, little water-hen, little dark dun &c.” He describes the fly as “one of the daintiest morsels with which you can tempt a trout, and one of the most difficult to imitate satisfactorily,” which is presumably why Pritt lists four different dressings, Nos. 18 – 21, for imitating the “Little Dark Watchet or Iron Blue Dun.” No. 18 follows. It is the same dressing for the Little Dark Watchet that Leslie Magee includes among his favorite flies in Fly Fishing: The North Country Tradition (1994). 
Sylvester Nemes recommends a Little Dark Watchet dressed on a size 20 hook that he based on Pritt's dressing in his own 2006 additions to his original Soft-Hackled Fly (1975). 

“Wings.—Hackled with a feather from a Jackdaw’s neck, or outside a Coot’s wing.
Body.—Orange and purple silk twisted, dubbed with down from a Water-rat.
Head.—Orange.”


This dressing uses twisted purple and hot orange Pearsall's Gossamer Silk as a thread base onto which muskrat is dubbed.



Pritt notes that John Jackson also includes a dressing for the Little Dark Watchet in The Practical Angler (1854) that other authors misattributed. Pritt points to Jackson’s winged No. 14 Pigeon Blue Bloa, which is dressed thus:

Wings.—Feather of a Blue Pigeon’s, or Waterhen’s neck.
Body.—Brimstone flame coloured silk.
Legs.—Yellowish dun hackle.
Tail.—Two strands of the same 

This fly has a golden coloured head, best made with a strand from the tail of a Cock Pheasant. When you use the Waterhen’s feathers, take the tips of two, and do not divide the wings.”

John Turton included a dressing in The Angler’s Manual, or Fly-Fisher's Oracle (1836), No. 35 the Iron Blue Fly, a hackle he recommended fishing “in May: made with yellow silk: with, outside or butt end of merlin hawk’s wing; body, dark water-rat dubbing, ribbed with yellow silk.”

The Bowlkers also included dressings in their editions of The Art of Angling. Charles Bowlker (1780) dressed an imitation of the “Little Iron Blue Fly” with “wings made of a cormorant’s feather that grows under the wing, or the feather of a dark blue hen that grows on the body under the wings, the body or water-rats fur, ribbed with yellow silk, with a sutty blue hackle of a cock wrapt over the body: The hook, No. 8, or 9.” In an earlier edition, his father Richard Bowlker (1747) provided a similar imitation: “The wing of this fly is made of a cormorant’s feather that lies under the wing, in the same form as those of a goose: the body is made with the furr of a wount or mole, or rather a water-rat’s furr, if you can have it, ribbed with yellow silk, and a grizzle hackle wrapped twice or thrice round. His wings stand upright on his back, with a little forked tail.”


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Grouse and Orange; Dark Moor-game, or Orange Grouse



Hook:

10-20
Thread:

Burnt orange
Abdomen:

Embroidery Thread - DMC 720 dark orange spice, or, better still, silk buttonhole twist, Coats & Clark’s 135-C deep orange, size D
Thorax:

Optional; gray squirrel back
Hackle:

Red grouse hackle from the shoulders or coverts


Or, better still:



The body is dressed with the traditional orange Pearsall’s marabou silk.



Sylvester Nemes includes the Grouse and Orange among the soft hackle canon he reintroduced to American readers in The Soft-Hackled Fly (1975), noting that the orange and black barring of a woodcock hackle would work well as a substitute for grouse. He recommends the Orange Grouse dressed on a size 20 hook with a herl head in his 2006 additions to his original Soft-Hackled Fly (1975). 


In T.E. Pritt’s North-Country Flies (1886), the Grouse and Orange is listed as “No. 7. Dark Moor-game, or Orange Grouse, or Freckled Dun.
Wings.—Hackled with a black and orange feather from the Red Grouse, the hen bird for preference.
Body. –Orange silk.
Head.—Either orange silk, or Peacock herl.”
Pritt explains that the pattern is a “good fly during March and April, particularly in a brown water, when the river is clearing after a flood.” It is this version of Pritt’s Orange Grouse, with a peacock rather than silk head, which Leslie Magee includes in his list of thirty favorite patterns in Fly Fishing: The North Country Tradition (1994). The hand-colored plates from Pritt’s original, which Sylvester Nemes reprints in The Soft-Hackled Fly Addict (1973), depict the Orange Grouse with the peacock herl head, but Pritt’s preferred a silk head finishing the dressing. E. M. Tod gives an almost identical dressing for the Grouse and Orange in Table IV, a table devoted to North Country spiders, of his Wet-Fly Fishing Treated Methodically (1903). He notes, also, that the dressing is a “useful fly always, but especially so in a dark ‘porter-colour water.’”


In this dressing of Blacker's Grouse Hackle, he body is dressed with the traditional orange Pearsall’s marabou silk.



Forty-three years prior to Pritt's book, William Blacker, likewise, gives an almost identical dressing for the Grouse and Orange, the Grouse Hackle, in his Art of Angling and Complete System of Fly-Making and Dyeing of Colours (1842). He calls his dressing the Grouse Hackle, lists it as best for May and June, and provides this simple dressing:
“Body, Gold colour or orange silk.  Legs, Grouse hackle.*
Gold tip.  
*When you tie on the grouse hackle take hold of the same in your right hand ; and with the left, the point of the same ; draw the fibres back with the right, tie it on at the point, and roll it on the back or outside the feather, as this keeps the hackle slanting downwards.”

Earlier still, John Kirkbride mentioned the Grouse Hackle in his Northern Angler (1837). It is the name give to a fly dressed various dubbed bodies and silk bodies of various colors, like green and yellow. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Brown or Red Hackle


This dressing follows Leisenring’s except that it uses a brown badger hackle, one that “has a dark list and colored fibers” but “the color of the fibers extends from the list clear to the tips,” rather than a true furnace hackle, with “a very dark, black, or blue dun list next to the stem and on the tips of the fibers.”

Hook:

12-18
Thread:

Wine or red
Rib:

Small gold tinsel
Body:

Bronze-colored peacock herl
Hackle:

Red furnace



Leisenring listed the Brown Hackle at head of his list of favorite patterns in The Art of Tying the Wet Fly and Fishing the Flymph (1941). He noted that the hackle should be tied according to the water where it would be fished: the slower the water, the softer the hackle and vice versa.

Like Leisenring, Mary Orvis Marbury heads her list of flies with the Red Hackle, and she devotes more attention to the history of the Red Hackle in her Favorite Flies and their Histories (1892). As she traces it, the history of fly runs as far back as the Roman Empire, and the observations of Claudius Ælianus or Ælian in his De Animalium Natura on Macedonian anglers, who “fashion red (crimson red) wool round a hook, and fit on to the wool two feathers which grew under a cock’s wattles, and which in color are like wax.” Marbury traces the pattern through Dame Juliana Berner’s A treatyse of fysshynge wyth an Angle (1496), in which the dressing is for a fly the hatches “in the begynning of Maye” and should be dressed with a “body or roddyd wull and lappid abowte wyth blacke silke; the wynges of the drake redde capons hakyll.” She also traces the pattern through Izaak Walton’s Compleat Angler (1653) and Charles Cotton’s additions (1676). Tracking the pattern afterward, given its popularity, would be a fruitless labor.

As testament to the Red Hackle's efficacy, Marbury cites a North Country lyric with this refrain:

“Cry, ‘Hurrah for the canny red heckle,
The heckle that tackled them ’a!’”

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Little Red Partridge Hackle; or Crimson Partridge



Thread:

Red Pearsall’s Gossamer Silk
Tail:

Pale mourning dove breast
Rib:

Fine gold wire
Abdomen:

Red Pearsall’s Gossamer Silk
Hackle:

Brown partridge from the back, tied so that the fibers extend just beyond the hook



In The River Keeper, which Sylvester Nemes excerpted in Two Centuries of Soft-Hackled Flies, John Waller Hills gives a biographical account of William James Lunn, who dressed the fly this way:

“Hackle: Feather from the back of a partridge, with fibres a little longer than the hook.
Tail: Pale buff.
Body: Red tying thread, ribbed with plain gold wire.
Tying thread: Red.”

Among the thirty favorite patterns he depicts on color plates at the front of Fly Fishing: The North Country Tradition (1994), Leslie Magee included No. 25, the Crimson Partridge, which he attributes to, presumably, a manuscript dating from 1887 and written by James Sproats Blades of Cotterdale, Yorkshire. The dressing is the same as Lunn's, excluding the tail and the wire rib.

Wings and legs
Hackled with partridge back feather.

Body
Crimson silk.





Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tup's Indispensable; or, Tup's Nymph

This dressing follows Leisenring's version of Skues's Tup's Nymph, except that it uses a synthetic and natural dubbing thorax and dove hackle rather than dun cock's hackle. (The picture below the dressing of the fly above gives a slightly better sense of the coloration of the materials in the dressing.)
Hook:

14-18
Thread:

Light Cahill
Tails:

Very small light-blue hen hackle or medium-dark honey dun hen hackle
Rib:

Abdomen floss
Abdomen:

Silk buttonhole twist – Coats and Clark’s 72-A primrose yellow, size D
Thorax:

Red fox squirrel belly with lavender and tangerine Needleloft plastic canvas yarn
Hackle:

Dun hen’s hackle – from the neck or shoulders



Leisenring dressed the fly the Tup’s Indispensible as a nymph thus:
“HOOK      13, 14.
SILK           Primrose yellow.
HACKLE   Very small light-blue hen hackle or medium-dark honey dun hen hackle.
BODY        Halved: rear half of primrose-yellow buttonhole twist; thorax or should of yellow and claret seal fur mixed dubbing spun on primrose-yellow silk.
TAIL           Two honey dun hackle points.”

Leisenring derived his pattern from that of G. E. M. Skues and R. S. Austin. In his Minor Tactis of the Chalk Stream, Skues gives a partial dressing, “as near the dressing as I am at liberty to give,” for the pattern Austin introduced to him and, afterward, allowed him to name. Skues gives this dressing for the Tup’s Indispensable: “Primrose tying silk lapped down the hook from head to tail, a pale blue or creamy whisk of hen’s feather as soft as possible and not long, three or four turns of coarser untwisted primrose sewing silk at the tail, body rather fat, of a mixed dubbing of a creamy pink, . . . and a soft blue dun hen hackle, very short in fiber, at the head, the dressing being preferable finished at the shoulder behind the hackles.” 

In the spring special 1976 issue of Fly Fisherman magazine, T. Donald Overton explains that "Skues wrote to Austin to request the dressing for this fly, in particular the rather odd body dubbing material. Austin replied and sent Skues a small bag containing the dubbing mixture. The mixture, one of the more exotic known to 20th century fly-dressers, had as a primary constituent the soft hair taken - possibly under protest - from the scrotum of a white ram, or 'tup' as that animal was called in Britain - hence the name given the fly by Skues!" For Skues and Leisenring, this body material made an excellent and effective thorax, despite Leisenring's modifications of the thorax.



Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Black Snipe

The only departure from Pritt's original dressing is that this dressing assigns a particular color of thread.



Hook:

14-20
Thread:

Black
Rib:

Extra small silver wire, reverse ribbed
Abdomen:

Dark green peacock herl
Hackle:

Snipe undercovert



In Yorkshire Trout Flies (1885), T. E. Pritt describes his No. 62, The Black Snipe as “an old Yorkshire fly, quoted in many manuscripts on angling, still in existence, although it is not generally dressed.” Sylvester Nemes includes reprints of Pritt’s colored plates depicting the Black Snip in The Soft-Hackled Fly Addict (1973). Pritt’s dressing calls for

“Wings.—Hackled with a Jack Snipe’s feather from under the wing.
Body.—Dark green Peacock herl.”

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Yellow Partridge; or, Partridge and Yellow


This spider is dressed with a body of embroidery thread.

Hook:

10-18
Thread:

Yellow
Rib:

Abdomen floss
Abdomen:

Embroidery Thread - DMC 307 lemon or, better still, silk buttonhole twist – Coats & Clark’s 157-A, size D
Thorax:

Optional; light hare’s mask from the nose or cheeks
Hackle:

Partridge - gray from the shoulder and breast

As with most Yorkshire soft hackles, tracing the lineage of this pattern to its originator would be impossible – it has been a Yorkshire pattern time out of mind and continues to draw strikes. Sylvester Nemes has recommended the Yellow Partridge dressed on a size 20 hook in his 2006 additions to his original Soft-Hackled Fly (1975). 

In The Soft-Hackled Fly Addict (1973), Nemes reprints the plates and dressings that T. E. Pritt listed in North-Country Flies (1886). Pritt lists the Partridge and Yellow as the “Yellow Partridge, No. 28”:
“Wings.—Hackled with a light feather from the back of a Partridge.Body.—Yellow silk. 
A good killer almost anytime during April.”

Although Pritt does not trace the lineage of the Partridge and Yellow (or Yellow Partridge) like he does other flies, he might easily have credited Michael Theakston's List of Natural Flies (1853) as he does in the case of the Orange Patridge, No. 32. Theakston lists an imitation of the Spiral Brown Drake (No. 29) as having a body of "orange or yellow silk; hackled, for wings and legs, with a freckled-brown feather from the back or shoulder of a partridge; with a few fibres of hare's ear wrought in at the breast." Theakston's dressing is pictured below. 

This spider is dressed with a body of silk buttonhole twist and a light hare's ear thorax. 



Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Welshman's Button; or, The Hazle Fly

This dressing of Richard Bowlker's Welshman's Button uses a blend of raw wool and synthetic in place of camel fur and ties the wing as a hackle.
Hook:

14-18
Thread:

Olive
Abdomen:

Natural brown wool – in this instance, the raw fleece of the Polworth breed
Hackle:

Dark, iridescent green pheasant from the neck





In his version of The Art of Angling (1758), Richard Bowlker describes the Welshman’s (Welchman's) Button; or Hazle Fly as one of the flies best for late July and situates the Large Black Ant Fly and the Little Red and Black Ant Flies. His dressing calls simply for a “wing [that] is made of dark hackle feather of a pheasant; and the body of the dark part of camel’s hair.”

This dressing uses wine thread, even though Charles Bowlker does not prescribe a particular color, and it also leaves off the partridge wing.


Charles Bowlker modified the Welshman’s Button for his additions to the 1786 version of The Universal Angler.

Hook:

16-18 
Thread:

Wine
Abdomen:

2 peacock herls twisted with one strand of black ostrich herl, the fibers of which should be slightly longer than those of the peacock herls, , so that the ostrich creates a halo effect around the peacock
Hackle:

Black hackle





In his updates to his father’s treatise, Charles Bowlker gives this dressing for the Welshman’s Button, or Hazle Fly: “his wings are made with the red feather that grows upon the rump or tail of the partridge; the body is made with a peacock’s harle and an ostrich’s feather mixed, with a fine black cock’s hackle for the legs: The hook, No. 7” Charles Bowlker largely follows his father's etymological description of the terrestrial that the Welshman's Button is meant to imitate. Charles explains that the fly "comes about the latter end of July, and continues about nine or ten days; is in form like a round button, from which he derives his name; he has four wings, the uppermost husky and hard, the under most of a fine blue colour, soft and transparent; to be found upon hazle trees, or fern bushes: He is an excellent fly for bobbing at the bush, or long line, being rather difficult to make, upon account of his shape and form."

Later anglers where influenced by the Bowlkers’ dressings. Ernest Schwiebert described these flies in his Nymphs (1973) as “surprisingly modern versions of standard patterns,” which “apparently began with the Bowlkers,” pointing out that “authorship of so many patterns that have survived for two centuries is an impressive feat.” In his Fly-Fisher’s Entomology (1836), Alfred Ronalds includes the Marlow Buzz as No. 30, giving Hazel Fly as an alternate name, as well as the “Coch-A-Bonddu, and Shorn Fly.” His color plate XIV depicts the insect as a beetle (though Schweibert reads it as a sedge), and he describes a dressing of the fly with an identical body to Charles Bowlker’s, except that he uses a palmered furnace hackle.