Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Donne Flye

This dressing applies partridge as a hackle rather dressing it as  "wyngis."




Natural dun wool, in this instance the raw fleece of the New Zealand Romney breed

Gray partridge from the shoulders or back

Dame Julianna Berners, the nun who published A treatyse of fysshynge wyth an Angle in 1496, originally described the Donne Flye as a universally effective pattern or, at the very least, an early spring, pre-April fly. Berner’s dressing calls for “the body of the donne woll & the wyngis of the pertryche.”

The natural dun wool from the New Zealand Romney that I used here is currently available from The FibreMine, an online shop at Etsy. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Tod-Fly Hackle

This dressing of E. M. Tod's Tod-Fly Hackle uses an American woodcock covert in place of the English woodcock undercovert.



Dark brown

Striped peacock quill

Woodcock covert

The Tod Fly is the name of a fly dressed as both a winged wet and a soft-hackled fly by the Scottish angler E. M. Tod in his Wet-Fly Fishing Treated Methodically (1903). Given that he provides two different dressings, it is important that Tod observed “if I were asked to choose between the exclusive use of ‘winged’ or ‘hackled’ flies, I should then give my vote in favour of wingless artificials (call them how you like) for the fishing of tributary streams—that is, Waters.” They are very often deadly, even in large rivers, and, I need hardly say, are particularly suitable for the fishing of burns.”  Tod notes that the soft-hackled dressing of his own Tod Fly “will be found generally useful, but especially so in dull cloudy weather.” He gives the dressing in full on Table IV:

Body.-The striped quill from moon feather of peacock.
Hackle.-The soft, pale, mottled feather from the inside of a woodcock’s wing.”

His winged Tod Fly uses the same body and hackle, but adds “two strands of game-cock’s hackle” for a tail and wings taken from a “Mavis wing, inside the feather.”

In Two Centuries of Soft-Hackled Flies (2004), Sylvester Nemes credits E. M. Tod with coining the term “soft-hackle” or at least being the author to first use the term in print, and he provides a picture of Tod’s Best Fly, presumably the Tod Fly Hackle, but his pairs an unstripped peacock herl body with what appears to be a starling hackle. (I read the body in Tod’s dressing as a stripped peacock quill because he describes it the same way as flies he dresses as “Quills.”)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Dark Spanish Needle, or Needle Brown;

This version substitutes embroidery thread for floss, tawny hen hackle for the now-taboo brown owl feather.


Burnt Orange

Abdomen floss

Embroidery thread - DMC 720 dark orange spice

One or two turns of peacock herl behind hackle

Tan hen’s back, very lightly speckled

Peacock herl

The Dark Spanish Needle was listed as No. 22 in T. E. Pritt's North-Country Flies (1886). As Sylvester Nemes reprints it in The Soft-Hackled Fly Addict, Pritt’s No. 22, Dark Spanish Needle (Needle Brown) was originally dressed:

“Wings.—Hackled with a feather from the darkest part of a Brown Owl’s wing.
Body.—Orange silk.
Head.—Peacock herl.”

In Fly Fishing: The North Country Tradition (1994), Leslie Magee notes that Pritt regarded so highly the imitation of needle flies, the small stoneflies so abundant on Yorkshire streams, that he includes four in North-Country Flies (1886). Pritt’s predecessor’s, too, ranked the pattern highly and the imitations significantly. E. M. Tod, for instance, provided the exact same dressing for the fly minus the herl head in his Wet-Fly Fishing, Treated Methodically (1903). Tod, however, attributed his dressing as “one of Walbran’s patterns,” which is likely taken from Francis M. Walbran’s monthly column “Monthly Notes on North-Country Trout Flies” in The Fishing Gazette. Sylvester Nemes reprints some of the dressings from Walbran’s 10 October 1885 column in Two Centuries of Soft-Hackled Flies (2003), among which is No. 3 the Dark Needle Fly, which Walbran dressed with an orange silk body, a dark brown owl hackle, but also with “a turn of peacock harl to form the head.”

In Brook and River Trouting (1916), Harfield Edmonds and Norman Lee provide a dressing with slightly slimmer proportions than Pritt’s. Their Dark Needle, No. 10, tied to represent stoneflies of the perlidæ family:

“WINGS.-Hackled with a brownish feather taken from where the hinder part of a Starling’s wing joins the body, (There are only about four of these feathers on each side of the bird.) or with a brownish feather from the back of a Swift.
BODY.-Orange brown silk, No. 6b.
HEAD.-Magpie herl.
Middle of April to the end of June, and again in September.”

Pritt, too, recommends the fly for the spring and again in September, noting that “the natural fly is most plentiful on the water on days with flying clouds and fitful bursts of sunshine, with a cold wind blowing underneath.” He points out that “Ronalds does not mention it,” but adds that the “name ‘Needle’ was probably given to it owing to the peculiar steely shade visible on the wings.”

Michael Theakston suggests a similar origin for the “Needle” of the name in his List of Natural Flies (1843): “On the Nidd they call them the Spanish Needle, from their steely hue and small lengthy appearance.” In his nomenclature, a “Brown” is a stonefly. Theakston gives particular attention to the winter hatches of the 1st fly in his list, the Needle Brown, in February, the first noteworthy hatch of the season, and traces their emergence throughout the year. His dressing is more fluid than Pritt’s or Edmonds and Lee’s: “Their bodies are imitated with fine bright orange or yellow silk, more or less waxed, shoulders darkest; various feathers are used to represent the wings; blo from under the judcock or snipe; brown from the water rail or swift; purple from the cock pheasant’s neck; and blue grizzle from the rump of the field fare, dressed hackle-wise, with a few fibres of fine fleshy grizzle hair or fur wrought in at the breast, but all must be very small.”