Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Donne Flye

This dressing applies partridge as a hackle rather dressing it as  "wyngis."



Natural dun wool, in this instance the raw fleece of the New Zealand Romney breed

Gray partridge from the shoulders or back

Dame Julianna Berners, the nun who published A treatyse of fysshynge wyth an Angle (1496), originally described the Donne Flye as a universally effective pattern or, at the very least, an early spring, pre-April fly. Berner’s dressing calls for “the body of the donne woll & the wyngis of the pertryche.”

In his History of Fly Fishing (1921), John Waller Hills famously argued that Berners' Donne Fly was tied to mimic the February Red: it "is the Treatise's 'dun fly, the body of dun wool and the wings of the partridge.' That is the dressing of 1496. It is the same to-day. The Partridge and Orange, dressed with a partridge hackle and a body of orange silk, is the imitation most commonly used between the Tweed and the Trent and kills hundreds of trout every year. So that fly has not changed at all in four centuries and a quarter."

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Tod-Fly Hackle

This dressing of E. M. Tod's Tod-Fly Hackle uses an American woodcock covert in place of the English woodcock undercovert.



Dark brown

Striped peacock quill

Woodcock covert

The Tod Fly is the name of a fly dressed as both a winged wet and a soft-hackled fly by the Scottish angler E. M. Tod in his Wet-Fly Fishing Treated Methodically (1903). Given that he provides two different dressings, it is important that Tod observed “if I were asked to choose between the exclusive use of ‘winged’ or ‘hackled’ flies, I should then give my vote in favour of wingless artificials (call them how you like) for the fishing of tributary streams—that is, Waters.” They are very often deadly, even in large rivers, and, I need hardly say, are particularly suitable for the fishing of burns.”  Tod notes that the soft-hackled dressing of his own Tod Fly “will be found generally useful, but especially so in dull cloudy weather.” He gives the dressing in full on Table IV:

Body.-The striped quill from moon feather of peacock.
Hackle.-The soft, pale, mottled feather from the inside of a woodcock’s wing.”

His winged Tod Fly uses the same body and hackle, but adds “two strands of game-cock’s hackle” for a tail and wings taken from a “Mavis wing, inside the feather.”

In Two Centuries of Soft-Hackled Flies (2004), Sylvester Nemes credits E. M. Tod with coining the term “soft-hackle” or at least being the author to first use the term in print, and he provides a picture of Tod’s Best Fly, presumably the Tod Fly Hackle, but his pairs an unstripped peacock herl body with what appears to be a starling hackle. (I read the body in Tod’s dressing as a stripped peacock quill because he describes it the same way as flies he dresses as “Quills.”)