Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Grouse and Green

This dressing follows one of John Kirkbride's dressings for the Grouse Hackle, assigning a particular silk and thread. 

Hook:

14-18
Thread:

Olive dun
Body:

Olive Pearsall's Gossamer Silk
Hackle:

Grouse back



Because of Ernest Schwiebert’s reference to the Grouse and Green as a “traditional Yorkshire pattern” in Nymphs (1973), the pattern might presumably figure into multiple historical texts on North Country fly dressing. Schwiebert makes frequent reference to North Country and Scottish soft-hackled flies in the development of modern techniques for dressing nymphal patterns. He attributes the success of those patterns to the brawling waters of Scotland and the North Country where anglers dressed and fished them. Such waters are home to many species of caddis flies, which, Schwiebert argues, provides an imitative corollary that accounts for the success of the flies. Of the three times he references the Grouse and Green, he attributes it to W. C. Stewart, but Stewart makes no reference to a soft-hackled or spider Grouse and Green in his Practical Angler (1857). Later posthumous editions of Stewart’s book include color plates that depict a Grouse and Green which is a much more heavily-dressed wet fly than the characteristically “dour patterns” which Schwiebert suggests must have “filled his [Stewart's] fly books.”

Schwiebert gives a dressing for the Medium Dark-Olive Sedge based on the Grouse and Green which he has “modified” in order “to imitate . . . olive-bodied Macronema flies," which he discusses in his chapter on Trichoptera: “W. C. Stewart used an [this] ancient border pattern to imitate similar caddis flies on his beloved Whiteadder, Teviot, and Tweed.”

Schwiebert’s misattribution is easy—the Grouse and Green does not seem to be mentioned anywhere - Roger Woolley only pairs grouse with claret, yellow, and orange silk in his Modern Trout Flies (1950) -though the hackle and body combination does in a few very specific instances appear under dressings for the Grouse Hackle. Typically, soft-hackled patterns using grouse hackles also use an orange body, as in the Grouse Hackle that William Blacker includes in his Art of Angling (1843). Blacker also includes dressings for a Partridge or Grouse Hackle utilizing different furs for bodies. One variation calls for a “Body—hare’s ear fur mixed with olive mohair” to create a green effect. It also includes a starling wing.

In the Northern Angler (1837), John Kirkbride also includes various dressings for the Grouse Hackle, one of which is illustrated above as the Grouse and Green: “It is made as a hackle, with a small bright mottled feather from the back of a cock grouse, with a dusky yellow or olive body.”

3 comments:

  1. Hi, Neil. Just wanted to touch base with you and let you know as always, I appreciate your blog and it's look back at the history of Soft Hackles. I am always impressed with what fly tyers in those days used for materials, compared to modern tying, where everything is readily available at your local shop. Thanks,again.......................

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