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!’”