Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Brown or Red Hackle

This dressing follows Leisenring’s except that it uses a brown badger hackle, one that “has a dark list and colored fibers” but “the color of the fibers extends from the list clear to the tips,” rather than a true furnace hackle, with “a very dark, black, or blue dun list next to the stem and on the tips of the fibers.”



Wine or red

Small gold tinsel

Bronze-colored peacock herl

Red furnace

Leisenring listed the Brown Hackle at head of his list of favorite patterns in The Art of Tying the Wet Fly and Fishing the Flymph (1941). He noted that the hackle should be tied according to the water where it would be fished: the slower the water, the softer the hackle and vice versa.

Like Leisenring, Mary Orvis Marbury heads her list of flies with the Red Hackle, and she devotes more attention to the history of the Red Hackle in her Favorite Flies and their Histories (1892). As she traces it, the history of fly runs as far back as the Roman Empire, and the observations of Claudius Ælianus or Ælian in his De Animalium Natura on Macedonian anglers, who “fashion red (crimson red) wool round a hook, and fit on to the wool two feathers which grew under a cock’s wattles, and which in color are like wax.” Marbury traces the pattern through Dame Juliana Berner’s A treatyse of fysshynge wyth an Angle (1496), in which the dressing is for a fly the hatches “in the begynning of Maye” and should be dressed with a “body or roddyd wull and lappid abowte wyth blacke silke; the wynges of the drake redde capons hakyll.” She also traces the pattern through Izaak Walton’s Compleat Angler (1653) and Charles Cotton’s additions (1676). Tracking the pattern afterward, given its popularity, would be a fruitless labor.

As testament to the Red Hackle's efficacy, Marbury cites a North Country lyric with this refrain:

“Cry, ‘Hurrah for the canny red heckle,
The heckle that tackled them ’a!’”

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Little Red Partridge Hackle; or Crimson Partridge


Red Pearsall’s Gossamer Silk

Pale mourning dove breast

Fine gold wire

Red Pearsall’s Gossamer Silk

Brown partridge from the back, tied so that the fibers extend just beyond the hook

In The River Keeper, which Sylvester Nemes excerpted in Two Centuries of Soft-Hackled Flies, John Waller Hills gives a biographical account of William James Lunn, who dressed the fly this way:

“Hackle: Feather from the back of a partridge, with fibres a little longer than the hook.
Tail: Pale buff.
Body: Red tying thread, ribbed with plain gold wire.
Tying thread: Red.”

Among the thirty favorite patterns he depicts on color plates at the front of Fly Fishing: The North Country Tradition (1994), Leslie Magee included No. 25, the Crimson Partridge, which he attributes to, presumably, a manuscript dating from 1887 and written by James Sproats Blades of Cotterdale, Yorkshire. The dressing is the same as Lunn's, excluding the tail and the wire rib.

Wings and legs
Hackled with partridge back feather.

Crimson silk.