Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Doctor Lyte Palmer

Rather than using “dingy-orange worsted wool” for the body, this dressing uses orange hare’s mask to give the body a slightly scragglier look. It also substitutes a ginger hackles for honey dun and a braided tinsel that seats more deeply and securely in the hare's mask body than the prescribed flat tinsel. Braided tinsel aligns with earlier precedents.



Rust brown

Peacock herl
Rib 2:

Vintage, fine gold twist wound along front edge of peacock herl rib

Ginger cock hackle slightly smaller than front hackle

Orange hare’s mask

Ginger cock hackle with a faint, medium dun list, slightly larger than the palmer hackle

James Leisenring includes the Doctor Lyte Palmer in The Art of Tying the Wet Fly & Fishing the Flymph (1941) that he has “found at times very deadly.” It was originally dressed by one of his “fishing companions, an expert flytier, Dr. H. W. Lyte of Allentown, Pennsylvania.” 

 Leisenring's dressing of the Doctor Lyte Palmer calls for:

“HOOK  13,14
SILK  Orange.
HACKLE  Pure honey dun of rich color and medium stiffness—two turns.
RIB  Fine peacock herl of the sword feather—one of the very long, thin fibers.
RIB #2  Very narrow gold tinsel wound right alongside of the peacock herl rib and in front of it.
RIBBING HACKLE  Pure honey dun hackle slightly smaller than the front hackle.
BODY  Dingy-orange worsted wool.”

Sylvester Nemes leaves Doctor Lyte Palmer out of the dressings he included in his coverage of Leisenring’s Art of Tying the Wet Fly from his Two Centuries of Soft-Hackled Flies (2004), but it is likely the sort of fly Joe Humphrey had in mind in his phenomenal textbook, Trout Tactics (1981), in his observations on fishing  the wet fly, particularly in his Pennsylvania limestone home waters:  “When caddies hatches are heavy in April or early May, try this: fish only heavy, broken pocket water—forget the flats. Use a short line and work downstream and fish only the pockets in behind boulders and breaks. Use a well-dress palmered #10 or #8 wet fly, and bounce the flies in the pockets. A long rod of nine feet or better can be an advantage when trying to hold wet flies in one specific area. Heavy riffs or currents push through the middle of a line and drag your flies out of productive water at edges of the currents. The trout never get a good look at your fly or refuse them as they drag; a longer rod can hold them there since there is less line on the water.”

Leisenring’s Doctor Lyte Palmer recalls one of the four palmer flies, the Golden Palmer, that Richard Bowlker included in his 1757 edition of The Art of Angling, but which his son Charles excluded from his own 1774 edition: “His body is made of orange-coloured silk, ribbed down with a peacock’s harle and gold twist, with the red hackle of a cock wrapt over the body: The hook, No. 5, or 6, according to the water you fish in.”

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Thornfly Dun; Landrail Dun; Dark and Light Sedge; or, Silverhorns

This dressing substitutes American woodcock undercovert for landrail undercovert. It is dressed more heavily to align it with William Blacker's Red Palmer Fly, which T. E. Pritt lists as a precedent. It finishes the fly in front of the head rather than behind it. 




Orange silk

American woodcock undercovert

Peacock herl

Two distinct strains of dressing the Thornfly Dun seem to exist. Drawing the connection between these two pattern groups makes two assumptions: first, that the name Thornfly (in whatever form) corresponding with a hatching period beginning in late May or early June correlates different representations; second, that these dressings are, as the name dun often seems to distinguish, caddis or sedge flies. The more popular dressings exhibit a general orange-red cast in the bodies, hackles, and heads. They have much in common with the Light Dun that Michael Theakston describes in his List of Natural Flies (1843). However, many of the dressings also emphasize a darker overall color, with purplish black bodies and darker dun-colored hackles. Dressings for this June hatch have more in common with the Silverhorns sedge that Alfred Ronalds lists for June fishing in The Fly-fisher’s Entomology (1837). 

In the former category is the Thornfly Dun, no. 49, that T. E. Pritt includes in Yorkshire Trout Flies (1885) and its 1886 reworking, North-Country Flies:

Wings.—Hackled with a Landrail’s feather, taken from under the wing.
Body.—Orange silk.
Head.—Peacock herl.”

Pritt notes that the Thornfly Dun is “a very excellent fly in a good bold brown water on warm days in summer, from June onwards. It is a variation of No. 5 [the Brown Owl], and equally useful. Dressed with a redder feather it is the same fly as that known as Blacker’s Red.” After Pritt, Harfield Edmonds and Norman Lee seem to offer two variations on the Thornfly Dun for June sedge dressings. They recommend, like Pritt, their Dark and Light Sedges for fishing from the “middle of June to the end of the season.”

Despite the reference to Blacker, Pritt’s Thornfly Dun seems more aligned to manuscript dressings like Large Thorn Fly Dun recorded by Jonathan Pickard in 1820 and printed by Robert L. Smith in The North Country Fly: Yorkshire’s Soft Hackle Tradition (2015): “Orange silk, peacock harl in the head feather from the inside of a landrail’s wing.” Smith also prints another 1820 list by William Robinson with an almost identical dressing for the Thorn Dun Larger or Landrail Dun.

This dressing uses gold Pearsall’s gossamer silk, substitutes a mixture of ginger antron and orange acrylic for orange mohair, and applies gold twist rather than tinsel.

Pritt’s attribution to Blacker’s Red is presumably to the Red Palmer Fly that William Blacker includes in his Art of Angling (1843). The color scheme falls into the tawny category, essentially the same as Pritt’s Thornfly Dun, except that Blacker's fly is dressed as a palmer:

“Hook ff.—Body, Red or orange mohair, with gold twist or tinsel up the body.
Legs, Two red hackles, wound on from the tail up to the head, in rotation with the tinsel.”

Blacker’s Red Palmer is the same as the Red Palmer that John Kirkbride includes in his Northern Angler (1837), except that Kirkbride recommends occasionally using gold wire as a rib.

This dress of James Chetham's Thorn-Fly dresses a winged fly into a soft hackle, using dove covert for the light gray mallard's wing.  It uses a mixture of black antron and raw Black Welsh Mountain wool for lamb’s wool.

In the latter, darker category of Thornfly dressings is James Chetham’s Thorn-Fly. In his Angler’s Vade Mecum (1681), Cheatham includes “Another Catalogue, of Flies, practiced by a very good angler,” in addition to the list he reprints from The Complete Angler (1657, 1676), that includes the Thorn-fly as the first choice for May. Chetham’s dressing calls for a “Dubbing of Black Lambs Wooll, and Dub’d with Black Silk, Wings of a Mallards light Grey; Note that all the Feathers got from Mallards for Wings, ought be got from a wild Mallard, and not from a tame one.” Stephen Braithwaite maintained a manuscript fly list, which includes a Thorn Fly dressed like Chetham’s, that Robert L. Smith reprints.

Chetham’s early dressing seems to provide a precedent for the Alfred Ronalds’s Silverhorns a century and a half later. Ronalds notes that the Silverhorns “is extremely abundant upon some waters, and is well taken both by the Trout and Grayling until the end of August throughout the day, and principally in showery weather. The figure represents the female. The male has black horns.*

Body. Black ostrich herl tied with black silk, and dressed off.
Wings. Feather from a wing of the cock blackbird.
Legs. Small black cock's hackle.
Horns. Grey feather of the mallard.

To make it buzz, the body is ribbed with silver twist upon the black ostrich herl, and a black hackle wrapped all down.

* There is a variety upon some waters, which has a very shining highly polished jet-black wing.”

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Stone Fly; Stone Flye or Flie; and, the Montana Stonefly

This dressing of the Stone Fly that Richard Bowlker describes in The Art of Angling (1757) departs from the general rule of the blog and uses a size 10 hook instead of a size 14. It also substitutes a blend of beaver fur and golden stonefly antron dubbed on rib of silk buttonhole twist, which, when wet, would be an apt substitute for Bowlker's “body with dark brown mohair, mixed with dirty yellow.”



Wood Duck

Silk button hole twist – Belding-Corticelli 3715 bamboo, size D

Silk button hole twist – Belding-Corticelli 3715 bamboo, size D dubbed with an equal blend of beaver fur and golden stonefly antron

Grizzly cock

In a discussion of stoneflies in his Fly Fishing: The North Country Tradition (1996), Leslie Magee suggests that “of all the flies imitated by the flyfisher, the larger stoneflies are the least familiar; few of the that I meet on the riverside have ever handled a ‘creeper’ (the nymph or larvae) or an adult stonefly.” He also asserts that the popularity of bait fishing with the stonefly has passed. While it was popular in T. E. Pritt’s time, “when fishing the live creeper and the adult stonefly cast upstream was all the rage on several North Country rivers.” He notes that even though the “method was several centuries old,” Harfield Edmonds and Norman Lee devoted a chapter to it in their Brook and River Trouting (1916); “20 years after the publication of Brook and River Trouting upstream fishing with the creeper and live stonefly was virtually extinct” due to developments in angling gear and fly fishing methods.

Historical angling authors give testament to Magee’s assertion that fishing stone flies as bait was a centuries old practice, like fishing the natural Green Drake as bait. John Kirkbride, for instance, expresses this preference in his Northern Angler (1837): the Stone Fly, “on a hot day, is a most destructive bait for trout,” and it “is seldom used as an artificial fly; for it is best to dab with it after it takes wing. It is here called the May-fly.” Michael Theakston likewise notes in his List of Natural Flies (1843), that the stone fly, the “Imperial Empress of all trout flies,” is “in general fished natural.” “After sunset she comes out,” he notes, “for her enjoyments are chiefly in the dusk and twilight of night and early morn; the whole family are then in motion—flying about—running among the stones, and paddling upon the waters.” Thesis ton explains that, to fish the stone fly successfully, the angler must “move, unseen, with easy motion up the stream, and dab the fly with precision on the eddies behind stones, or other places of succour where the trout takes his station; or let it glide free and natural down the current over his likely haunts; never drag it against the stream (unnatural for any fly) or suffer it to drown; but succour and recover it by easy lifts and gentle jerks, to keep it on the water alive and dry, for a dead fly hanging at the hook like a piece of wet moss, will not be taken on the top.” Theakston regards fishing the stone fly as an artificial as “a true trier of skill, and probably the best test of the general merits of the flyfisher. Each rustic craftsman along the banks of the winding streams, where the true art and science of flyfishing is best known and practised, greet with glee the presence of the stone fly.”

In the third edition of his Modern Trout Fishing (1950), some twenty-five years after bait fishing the stonefly went extinct in Magee’s account, Roger Woolley emphasized how often the stone fly is often fished as a natural, noting that “it is more used in its natural state than as an artificial. It is called the Mayfly on the north country rivers, where it hatches out in great numbers.” Woolley points out that “it is not always easy to procure a sufficient number of the natural flies for a day’s fishing, and then the artificial has to be resorted to, but the stone fly anglers prefer the natural fly is procurable.” He goes on to list eighteen dressings for smaller stoneflies, including five soft hackles like the Winter Brown that he attributes to the North Country tradition.

Although Woolley’s dressings are almost evenly split between winged and corresponding hackled versions, historical stone flies patterns were most often winged dressings. John Jackson’s Practical Fly-Fisher (1854) includes a winged stone fly, no. 32, the May-Fly, but notes that the fly is “generally fished natural, being large enough to swim a good sized hook, or two smaller ones tied double.” Theakston’s dressing is also winged, as is the Stone Fly that William Blacker includes in his Art of Angling (1843). Kirkbride, Alfred Ronalds in The Fly-fisher’s Entomology (1837), and John Turton’s Angler’s Manual (1836) provide dressings that seem to derive from sixteenth- and seventeenth-century antecedents that John Waller Hills describes in A History of Fly Fishing for Trout (1921).

Hills lists the Stonefly as one of the twelve most important flies to anglers, giving a brief account of early dressings from Dame Julianna Berner’s A treatyse of fysshynge wyth an Angle (1496) to Charles Cotton’s 1676 additions to Izaak Walton’s Compleat Angler (1657). Hills points out that the Stonefly “has changed neither in name nor in dressing. It is quite unmistakeable, a fat, stupid, clumsy clown, better at running than flying. The Treatise is as follows: ‘The stone fly, the body of black wool and yellow under the wing and under the tail, and the wings of the drake.’ Markham as usual makes the dressing more definite: the yellow under wings and tail is to be made with yellow silk and the wings are of a drake's down, not the quill feather. Cotton knew the fly well and gives an excellent account of its history: he made the body of dun bear's hair and brown and yellow camlet well mixed, making your fly more yellow on the belly and towards the tail, two or three hairs of a black cat's beard for tail, and long, very large wings of grey mallard. Though we use different furs from Cotton, his body survives unchanged in essence: but a hen pheasant's quill feather makes a truer wing than light mallard, and we like to add a hackle, either blue dun or greenish. But the changes are immaterial.”

Part of the “excellent account” that Hills attributes to Cotton includes a description of the Stone-Flies’ unique manner of hatching and eagerness of the trout to feed on them: “This same Stone-Flie has not the patience to continue in his Crust, or Husk till his wings be full grown, but so soon as ever they begin to put out, that he feels himself strong (at which time we call him a Jack) squeezes himself out of Prison, and crawls to the top of some stone, where he can find a chink that will receive him, or can creep betwixt two stones, the one lying hollow upon the other (which, by the way, we also lay so purposely to find them) he there lurks tills his wings be full grown, and there is your only place to find him (and from thence doubtless he derives his name) though, for want of convenience, he will make shift with the hollow of a Bank, or any other place where the wind cannot come to fetch him off.” Cotton notes that anglers often “dape or dibble” the natural Stone-Flie, “as with the [Green] Drake” and that fishing the fly is “much better toward 8, 9, 10 or eleven of the clock, at which time also the best fish rise, and the latter the better, provided you can see your Flie, and when you cannot, a made Flie will murder.”

In his Fly Fisher’s Guide (1816), George Bainbridge nods toward three traditions of fishing the stone fly. Not only is it “a deadly bait, used in the natural state,” but it is dressed after the fashion of Cotton's and Berners' precedent, winged and with a bear fur body. Brain bridge notes that it is also dressed as a hackled pattern, with “a long-fibred grizzled hackle from a cock’s back, without wings.” This latter dressing specifically recalls the Stone Flies of Richard Bowlker and his son Charles. Richard Bowlker provides a simple, soft hackle dressing for the Stone Fly in his Art of Flyfishing (1757). He describes the insect as “a large four-winged fly; bred from an insect in the water, called the water cricket; to be found in stony, gravelly brooks, or rivers; his belly is of a dirty yellow, his wings of a fine blue color, full of small veins, so that he is best made with a fine blue grizzle cock’s hackle; the body with dark brown mohair mixed with a dirty yellow.” Charles Bowlker offers a similar dressing in his 1776 edition, though its description reads more like a palmer: “This fly is made of the brown feather of a hen. His belly is of a dirty yellow and his back of the dark brown. His body is made of a yellow or brown spaniel’s hair, or Mohair, with the grizzled hackle of a cock around it.”

Breaking with the usual size 14 hook size for the blog, this dressing uses 4x bait hook. It substitutes a cree hackle for the brown and grizzly hackles Charles Brooks requires.

Stonefly dressings are the stock-in-trade of modern American anglers, though they are often involved dressings. A notable exception is Charles Brooks' Montana Stonefly nymph. Brooks famously dressed heavily-weighted nymphal patterns “in the round” for fishing deep, boulder-studded pocket water of the western trout streams he favored—much like the water Theakston and the Bowlkers reference—and he described his methods of fishing and dressing them in Nymph Fishing for Larger Trout (1976). Though it is a bit of a stretch, many, such as his Montana Stone Fly, are essentially soft hackles or flymphs, not far removed in form the Hare's Ear Flymph that Dave Hughes describes in Wet Flies (1995). This fly recalls the Bowlkers own dressing, though it is unlikely Brooks had access to their books. Brooks dressed his Montana Stone on long, heavy wire hooks in sizes 4 to 8 and weighted them heavily in order to represent the “Pteronarcys genus of stoneflies, especially P. californica,” also known as the Giant Salmon Fly Nymph, a must different stone fly than the one Alfred Ronalds describes: a fly hatching from the beginning of April until the end of May, of the “Order, Neuroptera. Family, Perlidœ. Genus, Perla. Species, Bicaudata.” Ronalds' stonefly is likely much more closely related to the fly Ernest Schwiebert describes in Nymphs (1973) as Perla Capitata, the Great Stonefly Nymph, Art Flick's Stonefly Creeper. Brooks’ Montana Stone is somewhat more complicated to dress than the Bowlkers:

Tail: Six fibers of raven or crow primary.
Rib: Copper wire.
Body: Black fuzzy yarn, four strand.
Hackle: One grizzly saddle and one grizzly dyed dark brown. Strip hackles off lower hackles before tying in.
Gills: Light gray or white ostrich herls.
Thread: Black nymo 3/0.”

Brooks direct fly tiers to: “Tie in thread at front, wind to bend. Lacquer shank. Tie in tail fibers and split to form forked tail, three fibers per side. Tie in ribbing and yarn. Wind thread forward, half hitch twice, and break off. Lacquer shank again. Wind yarn to eye, back to bend, forward to eye and back to base of thorax. Tie off, tying in thread at same time. Wind rib and tie off. Tie in one strand of ostrich herl, and both hackles by the butts. Strip fibers off lower side of both hackles. Wind two separated turns of hackle, one at the base of the thorax and another halfway between there and the eye. Both colors of hackle should lie one against the other. Tie off. Wind ostrich herl forward at the base of the hackles, tie off. Spiral thread forward and finish head large and lacquer well.”

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

New Posting Schedule

After four years of biweekly posting, new flies will post to Soft Hackles, Tight Lines on the first Wednesday of every month.

The blog has run from 3 June 2013 to this 17 May 2017 post. Excluding this notice, it has included 105 posts with 103 devoted to a historical account of specific, related dressings. On the whole, the posts have comprised better than 46,000 words and 159 photos of flies tied specifically for the blog. While there is plenty left to research, write, and tie, there is simply not enough time to maintain the current volume of output.

(Some content has been taken down in order to pursue additional writing opportunities outside Soft Hackles, Tight Lines, which will be noted here on the blog as they become available.)

Images here are from Charles Bowlker.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Dark Snipe and Green



Pearsall’s Green Gossamer silk

Snipe covert

The Dark Snipe and Green appears on two lists that Robert Lakeland includes in his Teesdale Angler (1858), the “List of Hackle Flies from February to November” and the “List of Hackles and Silks to Suit (Good Killers).” In both lists, the Dark Snipe and Green is dressed for August, and the name provides the directions for dressing the fly.

While it falls outside the Anglo-American province of this blog, the medieval Austrian 
Haslinger Breviary Fishing Tract (1440) lists a fly that seems at least distantly related to the Dark Snipe and Green of Lakeland's lists, although the Tract uses a dingy-olive woodpecker hackle rather than the muddy-dun tones of snipe. Richard C. Hoffman transcribes this dressing as a fly for November or “other autumn” in Richard C. Hoffman's translation of the Breviary. He transcribes the dressing or dressings thus: “und nym gruenspachen federn und wint grúen und gelib darunder,” which he translates as “and take green woodpecker feathers and wind green and yellow [silk] under that.” He notes that the green woodpecker is “native across temperate Europe” and that it “has dull olive green upper parts and pale gray-green beneath.” The simple breaks, und or and, between flies on the list and between materials for dressing flies suggests two possible ways of dressing the flies. Either these hackled flies are dressed with bodies from two silks—the fly would have a woodpecker hackle and body of green and yellow silk wound like the Deul Cruik or the Little Dark Watchet—or with single silk bodies that share a common hackle—a woodpecker hackle with a body of green silk or, alternately, a woodpecker hackle with a body of yellow silk. The author's economy of language suggests the latter reading is more accurate, that the dressings conflate different silk bodies that can be dressed from the same bird's hackles, like William Brumfitt's Dark Snipe and Orange or Dark Snipe and Purple.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Sand-Piper Hackle

This dressing substitutes a barred American woodcock shoulder feather for the sand-piper covert that John Kirkbride recommends.



Orange Pearsall’s gossamer silk

Flat gold tinsel

Peacock herl

Orange Pearsall’s gossamer silk

Barred American woodcock shoulder feather

John Kirkbride listed the Sand-Piper Hackle in his Northern Angler (1837), noting that “some of our old sportsman are very partial to this fly. They use it in the spring when the water is clearing off. Let the body be of orange-silk, ribbed with a fine peacock harle, and tipt with gold; take a small specked feather from the outside of the wing of a sand-piper for hackle—hook, no. 8.”

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Gray Hen Hackle Wet; or Grey Nymph





Grizzly hen

Dave Hughes includes the Gray Hen Hackle Wet in the color plates that accompany the first edition of his Wet Flies (1995). To dress the fly, Hughes recommends:

“Hook: 2x stout, size 10-16.
Thread: Gray 6/0 or 8/0 nylon.
Hackle: Grizzle hen.
Body: Muskrat fur dubbing.”

Charles Brooks dressed a similar fly, the Grey Nymph, with a tail. He describes in the list of patterns he includes at the end of Nymph Fishing for Larger Trout (1976):

Tail: Badger hair.
Body: Neutral gray fur; muskrat or similar.
Hackle: Soft gray grizzly.
Thread: Black Nymo.”

The image in the color plates that precede the list depict a full-bodied, heavily-tail and –hackled Grey Nymph. Brooks notes that it is a “very simple but effective fly.” He might have added that it has likely been around for a long time, as evidence by other shaggy, modern patterns like Pat's Nymph.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Smoky Mountain Blackbird; Crow Fly; or, Black Palmer

This dressing of the Smoky Mountain Blackbird is unweighted and uses the 2x dry fly hook in size 14 that other flies in this blog use. Also, following an almost identical dressing by Roger Lowe, the Crow Fly, it uses a starling primary for the palmer.




Starling primary barbules, tied the length of the hook shank

Peacock herl

Split starling primary

L. J. DeCuir includes the Smoky Mountain Blackbird in his Southeastern Flies (2001), noting the similarities between it and the better known Yallerhammer—it uses a peacock herl body and “utilizes the split wing feather of a bird.” DeCuir gives this dressing for the fly:

Hook: Mustad 9672, TMC 5263 or 3x or 4x Streamer Hook #4-10
Thread: Black
Weight: ‘Lead’ wire [or lead substitute]
Tail: Barbules from the wing feather of a blackbird
Palmered Rib: Split wing feather of a blackbird
Body: Peacock herl”

While the Smoky Mountain Blackbird most resembles DeCuir’s tailless dressing of the Yallerhammer, “it can also be fished like a Woolly Bugger,” even though, as DeCuir notes, it is “usually fished in the mountains of the Southeast like most heavily weighted nymphs.”

The “blackbird” of DeCuir’s Smoky Mountain Blackbird does not specify a species like the distinctive Yallerhammer, despite their similarities, and there are nearly thirty species of blackbird in the Americas. Roger Lowe gives an almost identical dressing in his Fly Pattern Guide to the Great Smoky Mountains (2001), which he calls Crow Fly. He notes that it is “tied similar to the Yellow Hammer but with a Crow feather; imitates the molting stonefly.”

“Hook: 9671 Mustad
Thread: Black
Body: Black yarn or peacock herl
Hackle: Biot quill from Crow or Starling”

Similar tailless dressings exist, most often listed as a Black Palmer. John Turton’s includes a Black Palmer Fly in his Angler’s Manual (1836) for fishing in the latter part of the season, from “July to September.” He dresses it “with dark orange silk; wing, black hen’s hackle feather; body, copper-coloured peacock’s feather; after rains, ribbed with silver twist.”

Roger Woolley includes a Black Palmer in a later edition of Modern Trout Flies (1950) that does not list a thread color, as is usually the case with the flies on Woolley’s list, but includes the materials for dressing Turton’s “after rains” Black Palmer Fly, with a rib of silver wire rather than silver twist. It could easily be dressed with the dark orange thread Turton gives.

The name Black Palmer covers a variety of dressings, the black referring either to the hackle, as in Turton’s dressing, or the body, like the Black Palmers of Alfred Ronalds’ and Charles Bowlker’s. Both Ronald’s and Bowlker’s dressings, in The Fly-Fisher’s Entomology (1836) and The Art of Angling (1774) respectively, utilize a black ostrich body, silver twist, and either a black or red cock’s hackle palmer.

John Jackson’s Practical Fly Fisher (1853) includes a dressing for the black palmer that is much more variable (and includes a variation that is very similar to the Yallerhammer):

Body.—Dark Peacock’s, or Ostrich’s herl, ribbed with gold tinsel and green silk.
Black, brown, or dark red Cock’s hackle over all.”

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Purple Gold Hackle; Purple Gold Palmer; or, Purple Palmer

This dressing uses a genetic furnace saddle hackle for the palmer and does not twist the hackle on the tying silk before palmering it forward, as James Chetham recommends.




Gold twist

Red furnace

Purple tying thread

In his Angler’s Vade Mecum (1681), James Chetham reprints the list of flies that Charles Cotton appends to Izaak Walton’s Compleat Angler in 1676. Chetham names the fly and lists the Purple Gold Hackle as No. 4 on his list for June, a dressing “made with a Purple Body, Gold twist over that, all whip'd about with a Red Capons Feather." A fly dressed with a hackle “whip'd about” the body is, for Chetham, “a Palmer-fly” that “is made of a Capon, or Cock's Hackle, twirled on Silk, and warp'd about the Hook, and either with, or without any Wings, and sometimes a little dubbing under the Hackle.” Dressed without the rib, the fly is the Purple Hackle, No. 3 on Chetham's and Cotton's list for June.

John Kirkbride includes the directions for a similar Purple Palmer in his Northern Angler (1837) that resembles the essentials of Cotton an Chetham's dressing: "This palmer is made of purple floss-silk, tipt at the tail with gold, or not, and two fine black hackles fun round the head. It must be made very small."

This dressing substitutes purple angora goat for purple mohair and uses a sparse furnace Indian dry fly hackle for the palmer.

In his Angler’s Manual (1836), John Turton lists the Purple Gold Palmer for June: “made with purple silk: wing, a red cock’s hackle feather; body, purple mohair, ribbed with gold twist.” He recommends the fly because it  “takes large fish in rough streams and dark waters.”