Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Orange Flie; or Orange Brown

This dressing substitutes dark orange hare's poll for the orange wool Charles Cotton lists and a crow primary tied hacklewise for the nebulous "wing of a black feather."



Burnt orange rabbit fur

Crow from the neck or head

In Part 2 of Izaak Walton’s Compleat Angler (1676), Charles Cotton includes the dressing for the Orange Flie at the head of the list for July: “1. We have then the Orange Flie, the dubbing of Orange Wool, and the wing of a black feather.” Following suit in his reprint of Cotton’s flies, James Chetham includes the Orange-fly in his list of dressings for July in the Angler’s Vade Mecum (1681), although he inserts another fly ahead of it.

In Fly Fishing: The North Country Tradition (1994), Leslie Magee reprints a pattern that is similar, including the Oringe Black in John Swarbrick’s “List of Wharfedale Flies” (1807): “The Flie is very Small a Hackle The feather is taken From a Starling Neck Harld at the Head with Marpie feather orange Silk.” This dressing is almost an exact match for the Orange Black No. 56 that John Turton includes in his  Angler’s Manual (1836). It is a silk-bodied dressing for July that Turton includes alongside the Wasp Fly, No. 57, which is dressed in darker orange-brown tones.

Alfred Ronalds includes the Orange Fly, No. 39, in his Fly Fisher’s Entomology (1836) as a dressing for a small orange scorpion wasp. He explains that it “is one of the best flies that can be used both for Trout and Grayling. There are a great many varieties, some larger, some smaller than the representation [on the color plate]. It may be used all day. Although discovered alive with difficulty, it is found abundant in the stomachs of the fish. It is furnished with an apparatus call the sting, used for the purpose of piercing the skin of caterpillars, in which it deposits its eggs, the grub from which grows in, and ultimately kills, the insect in which it was hatched.

BODY. Orange floss silk tied on with black silk thread.
WINGS. Dark part of the starling’s wing, or feather of a hen blackbird.
LEGS. A very dark furnace hackle.”

Michael Theakston, likewise, includes an Orange Brown, No. 83 in his List of Natural Flies (1843). In Theakston’s entomological parlance, a “brown” is a stone fly.

This dressing uses silk buttonhole twist by Talon, orange 455, size D, and substitutes reddish brown cock hackle for landrail.

Theakston’s dressing calls for the Orange Brown to be “Hackled or winged with a landrail’s feather; bright orange silk, for body; with a few fibers of mohair or squirrel’s fur, at the breast.”

In addition to representing a small summer wasp and a late season stonefly, the dressing also stands in for an the ant. Oddly enough, T. E. Pritt, in North-Country Flies (1886), traces the lineage of his Large Ant, No. 58, to the Orange Stinger that John Jackson dresses as No. 51 in his Practical Angler (1854). Jackson’s comment on the fly, however, and the dressing in particular align it more with Ronalds’ dressing for the small wasp than an ant: “This, though apparently a scarce insect, is greedily taken by both Trout and Grayling, from the middle of August to the end of September.” The dressing itself matches Ronalds’ almost verbatim. The “stinger” in the name, too, recalls the egg-laying stinger Ronalds describes.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Old Blue Dun

James Leisenring notes that an optional starling wing can be added to this dressing, though the Old Blue Dun he pictures in The Art of Tying the Wet Fly and Fishing the Flymph (1941) is dressed as above, without it. 



Two or three rusty-dun hackle fibers

One strand of silk buttonhole twist – Coats and Clark’s 72-A primrose, size D; or full twist, tightly twisted

Muskrat dubbed on primrose Pearsall’s Gossamer Silk, wrapped so that some silk shows through the dubbing at the tail end

Blue-dun hen

James Leisenring included the Old Blue Dun in The Art of Tying the Wet Fly and Fishing the Flymph (1941). He dressed it:

“HOOK  12, 13, 14.
SILK  Primrose yellow.
HACKLE  Blue-dun hen hackle of good quality.
TAIL  Two or three glassy fibers from a rusty-blue-dun cock’s hackle.
RIB  One strand of yellow buttonhole twist
BODY  Mustrat underfur spun on primrose-yellow silk, a little of the silk showing through dubbing at the tail.
WINGS  Starling optional.”

Leisenring’s name for the fly does not appear in older angling literature, but the word “old” suggests it should. Since many patterns utilize combinations of dun colored furs on yellow silk bodies coupled with hackles in varying shades of dun and, quite often, with smoky dun-colored wings, the most distinguishing feature of Leisenring’s dressing is the addition of a primrose rib.

In the third edition of the Modern Fly Dressing (1950), Roger Woolley lists various dressings of the Blue Dun as the Early Olive Dun. Blue Dun is a relatively common name, and shows up alongside other dressings that utilize blue fur bodies, but they usually omit the rib. Like Leisenring's Old Blue Dun, Woolley's dressings, particularly those under the heading of "Hackled Wet Patterns for Midland and Welsh Waters," often include bodies of various blue furs and a rib that is yellow (on in a few cases, of silver wire).

William Blacker gives an almost identical dressing in his Art of Angling (1843), although it neither stipulates the color of the tying thread nor makes the starling wing optional. He calls it the Whirling Dun, No. 29, and he argues it is best suited for June and July fishing. Richard Bowlker, too, includes a Little Pale Blue in his Art of Angling (1758) that neglects tail fibers and uses “the lightest blue feathers of a sea-swallow” for the wing.

Perhaps the oldest direct precedent for Leisenring’s Old Blue Dun is the “whirling Dun” that Charles Cotton listed for April in his additions to the Compleat Angler (1676). He notes that “About the twelfth of this Month comes in the Flie call’d the whirling Dun, which is taken every day about the mid time of the day all this Month through, and by fits from thence to the end of June, and is commonly made of the down of a Fox Cub, which is of an Ash colour at the roots, next to the skin, and ribb’d about with yellow silk, the wings of the pale grey feather of a Mallard.”

The lineage of Leisenring's Old Blue Dun has much in common with the lineage of the prevalent Waterhen Bloa, though most of the latter's dressings are not ribbed.