Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Breaking Off


It was a good run.

If I had had the wherewithal to continue posting through January 2018, Soft Hackles, Tight Lines would have been in operation for four-and-a-half years. My first posting was 3 June 2013. On the whole, the blog has included 110 posts with 106 devoted to a historical account of specific, related dressings, comprising almost 50,000 words and 166 photos of flies I have tied to represent those dressings and, quite often, their variations. While there are many more of flies that deserve to be researched, written up, and tied, the blog has come to occupy more time than I can devote to it now.

It has been a labor of love.

I very much appreciate the readers I have had throughout this project, from the outset to the eleventh hour. A few of my favorite posts are still available at the following links:

Black Spider                                                        Bracken Clock
Syl’s Nymph                                                        Hare’s Ear Flymph
Breadcrust                                                           Starling and Herl
Greenwell’s Glory Hackle                                 Black Louper
Pheasant Tail                                                      Exe Fly 
Small Ant                                                             Light Sedge
Orange Flie                                                          Carrot Fly
Yaller Hammer                                                   Red Fox Squirrel Nymph
            Gray Hackle Peacock                                         Dark Snipe and Green
            Blue Partridge                                                     Stone Fly 




I cannot resist listing some my favorite patterns for fishing on my homewaters in Western North Carolina and East Tennessee, in wide tailraces or the Great Smoky Mountains and the pasture streams of the New River Valley. I have not tried to name the originators of the pattern, only my sources. My additions or alternative materials are listed in parentheses.

A Baker's Dozen:



1. Dark Snipe and Purple - Lakeland, Brumfitt, Pritt
Hook:

16-18
Silk:

Purple silk
(Rib:

Extra small wine colored wire, optional)
Body:

Tying silk
Hackle:

Snipe covert (or smoky dun starling rump)





2. Waterhen Bloa - Pritt, Edmonds and Lee
Hook:

14-16
Silk:

Yellow silk
Body:

Muskrat or mole dubbed thinly on tying silk so that tying silk shows through distinctly
Hackle:

Waterhen undercovert (coot undercovert)





3. Iron Blue Dun - Hidy
Hook:

14-18
Silk:

Red silk
(Rib:

Extra small wine colored wire, optional)
Body:

Dark mole fur spun on red silk to form a taper toward the hackle, with two or three turns exposed at the tail
Hackle:

Starling (smoky dun starling rump or crow covert)





4. March Brown - Nemes
Hook:

10-14
Silk:

Orange silk (or yellow)
Tail:

Brown Partridge (optional)
Rib:

Extra small flat gold tinsel (or medium gold wire)
Body:

Hare’s mask mixed with hare’s ear (or brownish rabbit shoulder mixed with hare’s mask)
Hackle:

Brown partridge (two-and-half turns, so that slightly more hackle is situated on top of the hook shank, the vaguest suggestion of winging)





5. Pheasant Tail - Nemes
Hook:

16-22
Silk:

Dark brown thread (burnt orange,  olive dun, purple, etc. - matched to the thorax)
Tail:

Pheasant tail tips, optional
Rib:

Extra small copper wire (or gold, with olive thread)
Body:

Pheasant tail
(Thorax:

Sulfur, olive, purple, etc. superfine dubbing - matched to the thread)
Hackle:

Brown partridge





6. Light Snipe and Yellow - Leisenring
Hook:

14-16
Silk:

Primrose thread
Rib:

Small gold wire
Body:

Primrose silk buttonhole twist (Coats and Clark’s 72-A baby yellow, size D, for preference)
Hackle:

Snipe undercovert





7. Black Spider - Baillie, Stewart
Hook:

16-20
Thread:

Dark brown thread
Body/
Hackle:

Starling twisted on brown silk and palmered toward the eye of the hook (or waxed red or claret silk)





8. Grouse and Orange - Woolley, Nemes
Hook:

12-18
Silk:

Orange silk
Body:

Tying silk
Thorax:

Dark hare’s ear, optional (Nemes’ addition)
Hackle:

Speckled-brown red grouse covert
Tip:

Flat gold tinsel, optional (popular in earlier incarnations of the pattern)





9. Brown or Gray Hackle - Leisenring
Hook:

10-16
Silk:

Wine silk (or wine thread) or primrose silk (or primrose thread)
Rib:

Extra small flat gold tinsel, slightly tipping the herl body
Body:

Bronzy peacock herl
Hackle:

Red furnace or pale ginger furnace - matched to the corresponding silk/thread color





10. Orange Flie - Cotton
Hook:

14-18
Silk:

Orange silk (or gold)
Body:

Orange wool (burnt orange angora goat)
Hackle:

Black hackle (webby American crow neck or, for different parts of the season, starling back, nearer the rump)





11. Rough-Bodied Poult - Edmonds and Lee
Hook:

14-18
Silk:

Primrose silk
Body:

Buff opossum fur dubbed thinly on tying silk so that tying silk shows through distinctly
Hackle:

Young grouse undercovert (bobwhite quail undercovert or, for a lighter fly, mourning dove undercovert)





12. Red Fox Squirrel Nymph - Whitlock
Hook:

8-16
Silk:

Orange thread
Tail:

Red fox squirrel back fur, optional
Rib:

Gold twist (medium gold wire or small flat gold tinsel)
Abdomen:

Red fox squirrel belly fur
Thorax:

Red fox squirrel back fur
Hackle:

Brown speckled hen, mottled red grouse covert, or brown partridge back





13. Gray Hackle Red - Hughes
Hook:

10-16
Thread:

Black
Tip:

Small flat gold tinsel
Tail:

Bright, dyed-red hackle fibers
(Rib:

Extra small copper wire, reverse-ribbed)
Body:

Bronzy peacock herl
Hackle:

Stiffer, darker grizzly hen (two turns, no longer than the gold tip)


14 comments:

  1. Thank you for all the great posts and the hard work that went into them. I learned more than a few things reading your blog and have loved my journey through soft hackles.
    Tight Lines and thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I very much appreciate it - I've enjoyed the journey, too, particularly since it isn't finished!

      Delete
  2. I've enjoyed all your posts, thank you for taking the time to research and present these wonderful time tested patterns! All the best

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Mark - I appreciate that you've always taken the time to read it. Cheers!

      Delete
  3. Many thanks as well, Neil. I often refer to your posts when investigating pattern recipes for tying spiders, flymphs and NC flies. Perhaps a book from you is in the future?
    All the best

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jim - I'd love to see a book happen myself. Cheers!

      Delete
  4. A big thank you from me also. I look forward to reading your posts and enjoy them all very much. Sorry to hear you're stopping. I agree a book would be a great idea. All the best.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for following the blog, Doug - cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks Neil. Soft hackles forever, and tight lines to you.


    ReplyDelete
  7. Neil, I am going to miss your posts. Looked forward to seeing the many different posts, the historical patterns and the modern ways of building a similar pattern. Hope the site can remain up. Take care, may your path be clear, tight lines, wet hands.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for following, Ralph - keep an eye out for something else

      Delete
  8. Neil, Been away from the machine, & I came back to check in, & whoa...!! Can't tell you how much I've enjoyed your work keeping the fire going. The sum total is a book that has not been done yet. The archive is living & ongoing, & worthwhile. Throw in a few more good recent ones & publish the thing.

    Wish you the best at life & endeavor.

    Steve

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Steve - I'd love to shop around a potential book. That might end up being a Christmas project!

      Delete

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