Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Grey Dun Midge; or, Grey Midge

This dressing substitutes an American woodcock covert for English woodcock undercoverts.



Primrose Pearsall’s gossamer silk

Woodcock covert

Peacock herl

In The Angler’s Manual (1836), John Turton includes a September dressing, No. 67 the Grey Dun Midge, a hackle “made with yellow silk: wing, light woodcock’s feather under wing; body, yellow silk; head, green peacock. On some days, the outside wing feather of the dotterill is used for the wing.”

The Grey Midge, no. 24, is one of the few hackled flies that John Jackson includes in his posthumous work The Practical Fly-Fisher (1854). He dresses it with a "feather from a Woodcock's breast, wrapped on a body of pale yellow silk."

Leslie Magee reprints three lists of flies in Fly Fishing: The North Country Tradition (1994) that include a similar dressing. The first, John Swarbrick’s “List of Wharfedale Flies” (1807), includes No. 20, the Grey Midge: “This Fly is very Small a Hackle The Feather is Taken from the Wood cock Brest or one of the Small feathers from under the Wood Cock Wing Harld at the Head with Magpie Tayl feather.”   A similar, simpler pattern is included on William Nelson’s list in Magee’s book, the Light Woodcock, dressed the same as Swarbrick’s, minus the herl head. Sylvester Lister's 1898 manuscript called for a "freckled feather from a snipe rump. Head, magpie herl, body yellow silk, with a little fur from a water rat spun on," and Lister notes that the Grey Midge "comes on about middle of April, often of an evening."

In "another CATALOGUE" of flies in the Angler's Vade Mecum (1681) that James Chetham appended to his reproduction of  Charles Cotton's Compleat Angler (1676), the Grey Midge, or Gnat is a fly for June, "Dubbing of the Down of a sad Grey Cat, or sad Grey Camels Hair, Dub'd with Grey Silk, Wings of the Grey feather of a Mallard." Although it shares the same name, it meant for June and likely represents a different insect.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

August Brown; or, August Dun




Silk buttonhole twist – Coats & Clark’s lemon 223, size D

Tan tying thread dubbed with hare’s mask

Red grouse shoulder

In Two Centuries of Soft-Hackled Flies (2004), Sylvester Nemes includes some of the flies Francis M. Walbran listed in his column “Monthly Notes on North-Country Trout Flies” in The Fishing Gazette. For August 15, 1885, Walbran listed the August Brown first: “Body: Light brown silk, dubbed sparingly with hare’s face, and ribbed with yellow silk, dressed hacklewise with grouse’s feather.”

In Fly Fishing: The North Country Tradition (1994), Leslie Magee notes that the August Brown hatch is an autumn corollary to the springtime March Brown and that its name is interchangeable with the August Dun or Drake, the Autumn Dun, Cinnamon Fly (which hatches alongside a Cinnamon Sedge), and the Whirling Blue Dun. He includes Sylvester Lister's 's manuscript, which gives a September dressing, the "Cinnamon or August Drake," which he dressed with a "feather from under landrail's wing. Head, peacock's herl, body, orange with gold tinsel or covered with herl from cock pheasant's tail feather," noting that the fly is "very abundant on some Yorkshire rivers." 

Harfield Edmonds and Norman Lee included a winged August Dun in Brook and River Trouting (1916) which they recommend through the “last week in July, August and September." E. M. Tod also has a winged dressing in Wet Fly Fishing Treated Methodically (1903) for fishing in September. A winged August Brown, No. 47, is  in John Jackson’s Practical Fly-Fisher (1854), as well, a fly that he regards “equally as good in its season as the March Brown, which it very much resembles, though lightered coloured and smaller.”

In his Fly-Fisher’s Entomology (1836), Alfred Ronalds lists a winged and a hackled dressing for the August Dun No. 38:

“BODY.  Brown floss silk ribbed with yellow silk thread.
TAIL.  Two rabbit’s whiskers.
WINGS.  Feather of a brown hen’s wing.
LEGS.  Plain red hackled stained brown.

It is made buzz with a grouse hackle wound upon the above body.”