Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Black Louper


This palmered Black Louper uses dark brown thread and assigns raw wool for the body. 

Hook:

12-14
Thread:

Blue
Rib:

Peacock herl
Palmer:

Red furnace
Body:

Raw Black Welsh Mountain wool



In A treatyse of fysshynge wyth an Angle (1496), Dame Juliana Berners recommends the Black Louper for May fly fishing, dressing it with “the body of blacke wull & lappyd abowte wyth the herle of the pecok tayle: & the wynges of the redde capon wt a blewe heed.” Given the vagaries of early modern English syntax, Berners' exact meaning is unclear. While she notes that the peacock herl rib should be “lappyd abowte” the black wool body, the "redde capon's" hackle might  be dressed two ways. The Black Louper might be dressed as a palmer, above, or as a hackle, below. In each instance, the hackling serves to imitate the insect's "wynges."

This hackled dressing follows the same specifications for thread and body materials as the palmer above.


What the Black Louper might represent is even less clear than the dressing she assigns it. John Waller Hills, whose History of Fly Fishing for Trout (1921) shows a particular indebtedness to the historicity of Berners’ twelve dressings, cannot determine what the fly represents: “it is possible to identify clearly eleven out of the twelve. The remaining fly is the Black Louper, appearing in May, which seems to have been a hackle fly, and corresponds to our Black Palmer or Coch-y-Bonddhu, but cannot be identified exactly.”

The Oxford English Dictionary lists the meaning of the word “louper” as “some kind of artificial fly” and cites only one example of the word’s usage in print—Berners’ own in her Treatyse. The OED also cites the word “loup” as an Old Norse verb meaning “to leap,” a word commonly used in the late fifteenth century when Berners was writing. If her intention was to describe the behavior and color of a particular insect, a “black leaper," then she was likely describing a terrestrial, as Hills suggests. The combination of brown-black wool, iridescent bronze peacock herl, and a deep red hackle with a deep black list, however, suggests a cricket rather than a beetle.

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