Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Blue-Winged Olive (XVIII); or the Bright Brown

This dressing makes substitutions based on color for the tail, body, and hackle. While it would be more properly dressed in smaller sizes, it is shown here on the size 14 dry fly hook standard for the blog.



Three strands of dark dun dove hackle tied short

Rust sculpin wool and maple plastic canvas yarn

Dove primary

In Nymph Fishing for Chalk StreamTrout (1939), G. E. M. Skues lists various dressings for the Blue-Winged Olive. For fishing at nighttime, he preferred:

Hook.—No. 1 or 2 down-eyed round bend.
Tying Silk.—Hot orange.
Hackle.—Dark but definitely blue hen—as woolly in the fibre as can be had—two turns.
Whisk.—Three strands of dark hen hackle—short.
Body.—Cow-hair the colour of dried blood, dressed fat—the nymph itself being fat and not taper like the other dun nymphs.”

Given the distinctions he draws among ten different styles for dressing nymphal flies at the outset of The Way of a Trout with a Fly (1921), G. E. M. Skues would likely balk at having one of his short hackled nymphs grouped among soft hackles. Nevertheless, its hackling, though short, is dressed in the round with soft hackle. 

Charles Cotton's winged Bright Brown, from part 2 of the Compleat Angler (1676), might also be dressed as a soft hackle. The coloration achieved by the materials in Skues’s dressing is quite similar overall to the second dressing that Charles Cotton lists in his additions to the Compleat Angler (1676): “2. Also a bright brown, the dubbing either of the brown of a Spaniel, or that of a Cows flanck, with a Grayling.” James Chetham corrects what must be a typographical error in Cotton, “with a Grayling,” to “with a Grey Wing” in his Angler's Vade Mecum (1681).

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Blue Partridge




Raw wool - New Zealand Romney, dubbed thinly on blue tying thread, heavier behind the hackle


As a point of terminology, flies named Blue Partridge, Gravel Spinner, Spider Fly, Gravel Bed Fly, and Sand Flie seem interchangeable in historical angling texts, but as a matter of entomology, the Blue Partridge seems to refer to the emergence (or reemergence) of the Diptera - midges, gnats, or craneflies - in early May, after the earlier emergence that Michael Theakston, Alfred Ronalds, and other anglers indicate.

In North-Country Flies (1886), Pritt dresses the No. 44, the Blue Partridge with

“WINGS.-Hackled with a feather from a Partridge’s back.
BODY.-Blue silk dubbed with a little lead-coloured lamb’s wool”

Harfield Edmonds and Norman Lee include an almost exact dressing in their Brook and River Trouting (1916), No. 19, the Gravel Bed, a "crane-fly." The only difference between their dressing and Pritt's is the dubbing: they recommend "blue-grey fur from the flank of an Opossum." And they note that the Gravel Bed is a "useful fly in a coloured water." Sylvester Lister also includes a Blue Patridge in his 1898 manuscript, printed by Leslie Magee in Fly Fishing: The North Country Tradition (1994). He dresses the Blue Partridge or “Gravel Bed Spinner,” No. 18, with the “Speckled feather (bluish) from partridge back or silver pheasant. Head, magpie herl. Body, light blue covered with heron’s herl. Remarks Comes on early in May, often kills well on bright days to end of July.” Magee notes that Lister’s No. 18 is the same as John Swarbrick’s Sand Flie, No. 17 on his List of Wharfedale Flies (1807), which Magee also reprints:

“Sir if you Take notice upon the sand Beds Abought the 10 of May you will see these Flyes in Great Abundance as they bred in the sand She is a Winged Flie the Feather is Taken of a mallard what we call a Drake the feather Must be of a Sandey Brown much the same Collour as the Feather of a partridge feather some Times of a Silver pheasant Wing Sir it must be made Very small when I say small I mean Harld at the Head with a Magpie Harl purple silk Rapt down the Bodey with one turn of a feather for a Hearing saw (Heron Sheugh – a name still used in Yorkshire for the Grey heron) the Feather Comes of the Black Legd with a Black hen Neck Feather Sir Fish This Flie at the End.”

Roger Woolley chose to separate the Gravel Bed Spinner, a dressing he recommended fishing dry or wet, and the Blue Partridge. Under the heading "Yorkshire and North Country Wet Flies” in his Modern Trout Fly Dressing (1932), Woolley included a sparse, soft-hackled dressing, for the Blue Partridge:

Body.—Blue fur ribbed with blue tying sik.
Hackle.—Pale brown partridge.”