Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Bracken Clock; or, Brechan Clock




Peacock herl on red silk or twisted with tying thread

A cock pheasant’s neck feather

In Fly Fishing: The North Country Tradition (1994), Leslie Magee includes a dressing for the Bracken Clock among his list of thirty preferred patterns that he attributes to a 1875 manuscript drafted  by William Brumfitt. T. E. Pritt reproduced Bumfitt's manuscript in the hand-colored plates of his Yorkshire Trout Flies (1885) and the subsequent North Country Flies (1886). Brumfitt's dressing of the Bracken Clock is the standard dressing - little variation exists between the dressings of various angling authors. Roger Woolley's Bracken Clock, in the third edition of Modern Trout Fly Dressing (1950), is an exact match. 

Like the Coch-y-Bonddu, Starling and Herl, and (perhaps) the Black Snipe, and the more modern Eric's Beetle, the Bracken Clock is a beetle or "clock" imitation. 

John Kirkbride describes what is, perhaps, a surprisingly modern dressing of the Bracken Clock, his Brechan Clock, in his Northern Angler (1837). He notes first that “the artificial brechan clock is seldom used, as the angler is generally more successful with the natural one.” Kirkbride describes baiting the hook with two beetles threaded face-to-face on the shank. But he dresses the artificial using “peacock with black ostrich harle for the body, and a black hackle for the legs, and the red feather of the partridge tail for wings; or, it may be made of a fine brown feather from the cock-pheasant’s breast, with a little tip of starling’s wing-feather at the tail, to represent the underwings. The red or upper feather must, of course, be tied down at the head and tail, to give it the appearance of a beetle. The body must be made full, as above-described, with a black hackle for legs.” What Kirkbride understands as winging - and he is technically correct, considering the placement of a beetle's wings - he dresses it like an angler today would dress a fly's shellback