Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Gordon Hackle

This dressing combines attributes from two flies that Theodore Gordon described without naming. It uses rabbit underfur to match Theodore Gordon's use of dubbing that is "mouse colored," though much less "light bluish dun," particularly on dark brown thread. The dressing also pairs the mouse color of the underfur with the silver twist of the other dressing.



Dark brown

Fine silver oval French tinsel

Blue rabbit underfur

Brown, mottled partridge hackle

Sylvester Nemes reprints selections from the letters of Theodore Gordon germane to his study of historical soft hackles in Two Centuries of Soft-Hackled Flies (2004). Gordon mentions two, though he gives neither a name. In a letter to G. E. M. Skues dated February 18, 1909, Gordon relayed some of his experiences with soft hackles: “I have tried the hackles of small birds and from grouse, woodcock, snipe, etc., but rarely with much success. A brown, mottled partridge hackle on a light bluish dun body, ribbed with fine silver twist was quite killing.”

Similarly, in a letter to Skues written on March 10, 1912, Gordon recalled “a very small fly with mouse colored body and gray partridge hackle that killed well on slow streams, fished wet.” (This dressing has much in common with Dame Juliana Berner's Donne Flye.)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Pale Watery Dun or Nymph

G. E. M. Skues' short-hackled nymph pushes the soft-hackle definition established by the first Soft Hackles, Tight Lines blog post, since the emphasis is less on the hackle than its incorporation into the fly. To distinguish it as a short-hackled nymph at all directs the attention to representational importance of the hackle, however different its function might be from longer hackled soft hackles, whether they use poultry or game bird feathers. 



Pale primrose

Blue dun

Silver wire

Tan hare's ear plus

Dark hare’s ear plus

Pale ginger, one turn tied short

G. E. M. Skues gives multiple dressings for Pale Watery Nymphs or duns in various books. In Minor Tactics of the Calk Stream (1910), Skues includes one dressing for a winged Watery Nymph; in Nymph Fishing for Chalk Stream Trout (1939), six short-hackled dressings. This dressing, Pale Watery XVII, is listed in the latter.

Hook.—No. 16.
Tying Silk.—Cream, waxed with colourless wax.
Hackle.—Palest ginger hen—one turn—short.
Whisk.—Two strands of palest creamy neck feather of cock grinea-fowl—short.
Rib.—Fine silver wire.
Body.—Abdomen: Pale rabbit’s Poll.
Thorax: Hare’s poll, or, for a variation, English squirrel’s blue   fur.”

Skues notes that he has seen the Pale Watery Dun “from mid-April to the end of the season and later. I have seen them hatching in bitter weather when fishing for grayling in December.”

James Leisenring includes two dressings for the Pale Watery Nymph in his Art of Tying the Wet Fly and Fishing the Flymph (1941). He assigns the following dressing for the second:

“HOOK  15,16
SILK  White, waxed with colorless wax.
HACKLE  One turn of a very short honey dun cock hackle.
TAIL  Three strands of very short, soft-blue-dun cock fibers.
RIB  None.
BODY  Undyed seal fur or pale buff Australian opossum fur dubbed lightly at the tail and thicker at the thorax.”

This dressing of (2) below substitutes mourning dove undercoverts for sea swallow hackling and tailing, and it uses naturally yellow raw Gulf Coast Wool.

Roger Woolley included a pair of simple soft hackle dressings for the Pale Watery Dun among a list of twelve nymphal, soft hackled, winged, wet, and dry fly dressings for the Pale Watery Dun in Modern Trout Fly Dressing (1932):

“(1) Body.—Pale ginger fur.
Hackle and Whisks.—Palest blue dun hen.

(2) Body.—Pale watery yellow lamb’s wool.
Hackle and Whisks.—Palest blue dun hen. Or a small feather from the outside of a sea-swallow’s wing.”

Woolley's second dressing, minus the tail, bears a strong resemblance to the Blae Hen and Yellow. He notes that the Pale Watery Dun “appears on our streams from May onwards throughout the season, but is most prevalent in August and September. Under suitable conditions it hatches out in great quantities, and is a prime favourite with trout, and especially grayling. It is about the same size as the Iron Blue Dun. This fly and the Blue Winged olives with their spinners are mostly the cause of the made late evening rise of fish.”