Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Sandy Moorgame; or, Dark Dun



Dark brown

Silk buttonhole twist – Coats and Clarke’s dark chocolate brown 56-B, size D

Reddish-brown grouse back hackle

T. E. Pritt notes that the Sandy Moorgame, no. 43, “is a very useful fly from May to the end of July, and it is not to be neglected in a brown water clearing after a flood. It is probably identical with the dark dun of Theakston.” Pritt’s dressing calls for

“WINGS.-Hackled with a dark, reddish-brown feather from the back of a Grouse.
BODY.-Dark brown silk.

In Michael Theakston’s List of Natural Flies (1843), a “dun” is not a mayfly, but rather a sedge or caddis; the Dark Dun n0. 50 is a caddis hatching in the late spring or early summer“winged with a dark feather from the Moorcock; brown silk for body; legged with a dark brown hen hackle.”  

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Wren Tail

This dressing follows William Blacker's substitution suggestion  and uses a hackle from the head of a red grouse in place on a wren tail feather.



Yellow thread

Gold twist

Small red feather on a red grouse’s head

Historically, anglers have dressed the Wren Tail as a terrestrial imitation for the leafhopper, which naturally exhibits ranging in color from a drab monochromatic to a vivid, improbable patterning of colors.

Many author anglers include dressings for a Wren Tail pattern, but only William Blacker in the Art of Angling (1843) includes a substitute for what, today, is a taboo hackle. He relates a Wren Tail dressing that he received from a Devonshire angler.  Dressing this fly calls for a “hook very small (midge). Body—yellow silk, and in some specimens a little gold twist; hackle, either the wren’s tail feather . . . or the small red feather on the cock grouse head.” Blacker’s own Wren Trail Fly is more involved, larger, winged dressing.

Another useful substitute  for wren tail besides the red grouse neck hackle that Blacker specifies is evident in the hackling equivalent that James Blades listed for his Wren Tail in a list of Blades’ patterns that Robert L. Smith included at the end of his North Country Fly: Yorkshire’s Soft Hackle Tradition (2015), available from Coch-y-Bonddu Books: Blades dressing equates hackle “from the outside of a quail wing” with hackling from a “wren tail.” His dressing for the Wren Tail is

Hook: No. 1 or 0
Silk: Orange
Body: Orange silk dubbed with red fur, and ribbed with gold
Wings: From the outside of a quail wing or wren tail
(A good fly on blustery, showery days, when the fly gets dashing into the water from overhanging growth)

This dressing of John Kirkbride’s “clear water” Wren’s Tail follows Blacker’s substitution for hackle and a mix of olive hare’s ear and medium olive antron for the body.

John Kirkbride includes the Wren’s Tail in his Northern Angler (1837), calling it “an excellent summer fly. The body, if the water be somewhat black, ought to be of light orange mohair, tipt at the tail with a little gold wire or tinsel; or, for clear water, a dusky olive body, tipt as above, suits extremely well; a feather from a wren’s tail must be put round the head as a hackle.”

For Alfred Ronalds’ Wren Tail, this dressing also follows Blacker’s hackle suggestion and uses tan acrylic for the body.

In the Flyfisher’s Entomology (1836), Alfred Ronalds dresses the Wren Tail as a summer terrestrial, the Frog Hopper or Pale Brown Bent Hopper, dressed with a

“BODY.  Ginger-coloured fur ribbed with gold twist.
WINGS AND LEGS.  Feather from a wren’s tail.”

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Grey Partridge or Grey Watchet




Primrose Pearsall’s gossamer silk

Peacock herl

In North-Country Flies (1886), T. E. Pritt distinguishes the Yellow Partridge (Grey Gnat) No. 28, “a good killer almost any time during April,”  from the Grey Partridge (Grey Watchett), No. 57, which he recommends dressing “for cold days, and in the evenings during June and July”:

“WINGS.—Hackled with a light feather from a Partridge’s breast.
BODY.—Straw-coloured silk.
HEAD.—Peacock herl.”

W. H. Lawrie includes a Grey Partridge Spider among his list of Border Hackled Flies in Scottish Trout Flies (1966), dressing it with bodies of both the yellow and primrose silk of Pritt’s Yellow and Grey Partridges. Lawrie recommends it for spring fishing, from late April through June.