Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Grouse and Orange; Dark Moor-game, or Orange Grouse



Burnt orange

Embroidery Thread - DMC 720 dark orange spice, or, better still, silk buttonhole twist, Coats & Clark’s 135-C deep orange, size D

Optional; gray squirrel back

Red grouse hackle from the shoulders or coverts

Or, better still:

The body is dressed with the traditional orange Pearsall’s marabou silk.

Sylvester Nemes includes the Grouse and Orange among the soft hackle canon he reintroduced to American readers in The Soft-Hackled Fly (1975), noting that the orange and black barring of a woodcock hackle would work well as a substitute for grouse. He recommends the Orange Grouse dressed on a size 20 hook with a herl head in his 2006 additions to his original Soft-Hackled Fly (1975). 

In T.E. Pritt’s North-Country Flies (1886), the Grouse and Orange is listed as “No. 7. Dark Moor-game, or Orange Grouse, or Freckled Dun.
Wings.—Hackled with a black and orange feather from the Red Grouse, the hen bird for preference.
Body. –Orange silk.
Head.—Either orange silk, or Peacock herl.”
Pritt explains that the pattern is a “good fly during March and April, particularly in a brown water, when the river is clearing after a flood.” It is this version of Pritt’s Orange Grouse, with a peacock rather than silk head, which Leslie Magee includes in his list of thirty favorite patterns in Fly Fishing: The North Country Tradition (1994). The hand-colored plates from Pritt’s original, which Sylvester Nemes reprints in The Soft-Hackled Fly Addict (1973), depict the Orange Grouse with the peacock herl head, but Pritt’s preferred a silk head finishing the dressing. E. M. Tod gives an almost identical dressing for the Grouse and Orange in Table IV, a table devoted to North Country spiders, of his Wet-Fly Fishing Treated Methodically (1903). He notes, also, that the dressing is a “useful fly always, but especially so in a dark ‘porter-colour water.’”

In this dressing of Blacker's Grouse Hackle, he body is dressed with the traditional orange Pearsall’s marabou silk.

Forty-three years prior to Pritt's book, William Blacker, likewise, gives an almost identical dressing for the Grouse and Orange, the Grouse Hackle, in his Art of Angling and Complete System of Fly-Making and Dyeing of Colours (1842). He calls his dressing the Grouse Hackle, lists it as best for May and June, and provides this simple dressing:
“Body, Gold colour or orange silk.  Legs, Grouse hackle.*
Gold tip.  
*When you tie on the grouse hackle take hold of the same in your right hand ; and with the left, the point of the same ; draw the fibres back with the right, tie it on at the point, and roll it on the back or outside the feather, as this keeps the hackle slanting downwards.”

Earlier still, John Kirkbride mentioned the Grouse Hackle in his Northern Angler (1837). It is the name give to a fly dressed various dubbed bodies and silk bodies of various colors, like green and yellow. 

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