Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Cinnamon Fly

This dressing follows Ronalds’ suggestion for dressing the Cinnamon Fly "buzz," but as a hackle rather than a palmer. It uses a reddish-brown speckled hen hackle in incorporate each hackling option Ronalds suggests for the buzz dressing.



Dark brown

Silk buttonhole twist – Coats & Clark’s 47 tan, size D

Reddish brown hen hackle

Alfred Ronalds includes the Cinnamon Fly, No. 40, in his Flyfisher’s Entomology (1836) as a dressing for August, tied to represent a caddis that “comes from a water pupa.” He recommends a winged and a “buzz” or palmered dressing:

“BODY.  Fawn-coloured floss silk, tied on with silk thread of the same colour.
WINGS.  Feather of a yellow brown hen’s wing, rather darker than the landrail’s wing feather.
LEGS.  A ginger hackle.

It is made buzz with a grouse feather or a red hackle stained brown with copperas, and tied on the same body.”

Aside from the body material, Ronald's winged pattern follows the earlier precedent that George Bainbridge included in his Fly Fisher's Guide (1816): the Cinnamon Fly, No. 32, "has four wings which are large in proportion to the body. They should be dressed full, and made from the pale reddish brown feathers of a hen, which approach the colour of cinnamon; the body of any dark brown fur; and a ginger hackle for legs." A "dark brown fur body" would simulate the same color as the "fawn-coloured floss silk," once wet, that Ronalds suggests.

John Jackson also lists the Cinnamon Fly as No. 48 in his Practical Fly-Fisher (1854).  an August dressing, a winged fly that “continues nearly to the end of the season.” T. E. Pritt cites Jackson’s dressing as a precedent for his own, noting that it is “a capital summer fly, particularly in the evening.”  Pritt’s Cinnamon, No. 55.

Some authors (Sylvester Lister, for instance) regard the Cinnamon Fly to be the same as the August Brown or August Dun. Leslie Magee's Fly Fishing: The North Country Tradition (1994), which includes Lister's manuscript, makes the significant distinction between the Cinnamon Fly or August Brown, a mayfly, and the Cinnamon Sedge, a sedge or caddis.

“WINGS.—Hackled with a feather from a Brown Owl’s wing.
BODY.—Yellow silk, dubbed with fur from a water Rat.
HEAD.—Peacock herl.”

The Buss Brown is a likely precedent for later dressings of the Cinnamon Fly. James Chetham includes it in the 1700 edition of his Anglers Vade Mecum (1681), as part of a list of flies he adds to augment the list he reprints from Charles Cotton's additions to Izaak Walton's Compleat Angler (1676). The Buss Brown is the only fly Chetham adds to Cotton's flies for August, and it is "Made with the light Brown Hair of the Ear of a Cur, the Head Black, Wings of the Feather of a Red Hen Whipt with Orange coloured Silk." 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Hare's Ear Flymph; Hare's Ear

This dressing winds the hackle forward from a point a third of the way down the shank from the eye and ties it off behind the eye. it also substitutes red badger for true, black stemmed and tipped furnace. And in keeping with the established standard for hook size and representation on the blog, this dressing uses a size 14 dry fly hook rather than the nymph hook Hughes prescribes.



Red Pearsall’s gossamer silk

Red badger
Narrow gold tinsel

Medium dark hare’s ear

Red badger

Even before the advent of the barrel-bodied, highly effective versions of the Hare's Ear that gained popularity in the 70s and 80s and the gold-bead-headed variety that showed up in the 90s, the Hare’s Ear nymph was long a staple of the modern fly box, just as the the winged wet Hare's Ear had earlier been a stock pattern for southern chalkstream anglers and their North Country counterparts in England.

In his Wet Flies (1995) - a new, updated edition is available - Dave Hughes nodded to American wet fly traditions established by James Leisenring  and Vernon “Pete” Hidy in the first half of the twentieth century, which drew on the nymphal dressings developed by G. E. M. Skues. Leisenring and Hidy tied wet flies that Hidy would term "flymphs." While Leisenring readily lumped flymphs among traditional North Country Patterns (like his Light Snipe and Yellow), classic winged wets and Stewart's spiders, Hughes explicitly distinguishes the flymph from the soft-hackled fly by virtue of the spiky body and hackle. 

Drawing on Leisenring and Hidy, Hughes explains that the hackle of a flymph “should not dominate the body of the fly. In a well-tied flymph, the body and hackle entrap bubbles of air and take them beneath the surface. A properly tied body shows the primary color of any insect that is around when fish are feeding, plus some slight undercolor that shows through when the fly is wet in the water. The primary color comes from the dubbing fur selected. The undercolor comes from the silk on which the fur is spun. The two colors should harmonize with each other. They should also be in harmony with whatever insect is available to fish the time you’re using the fly.” Hughes' description certainly distinguishes the Hare's Ear Flymph from traditional soft-hackle dressings like the Grouse and Green or Orange Partridge, but the uniqueness of its thoracic hackling and the important role the plays in creating the overall effect of life qualifies it for inclusion here, much like the thoracic hackling of nymphs and hatching duns qualified W. H. Lawrie's Book of the Rough Stream Nymph (1947) for inclusion in Sylvester Nemes's Two Centuries of Soft-Hackled Flies (2003).

However contentious this point of definition may be, Hughes' Hare's Ear Flymph (and his flymph in general) is  a pattern somewhere between a soft hackle and a winged wet or between a soft hackle and nymph tied in the round, like the nymphal patterns that Charles Brooks advanced in his Nymph Fishing for Larger Trout (1976). Hughes dresses his flymph with a tail and a full body dubbed on silk from the bend to eye of the hook and a rib wrapped over that to the thorax. He ties a hackle in behind the eye, dubs the thorax, and winds the hackle from the eye of the hook back toward the bend, tying it off in the front third or fourth of the body. He finishes by winding the silk back through the hackle toward the eye of the hook (a technique he recommends for dressing and strengthening Stewart's spiders) and then whip finishing the silk behind the eye of the hook.

“Hook: 12-16.
Thread: Pearsall’s Gossamer silk, crimson red.
Hackle: Brown or furnace hen.
Tails: Brown or furnace hen hackle.
Rib: narrow gold tinsel.
Body: Hare’s mask fur, or #7 Hare’s Ear Plus, tan.”

Prior to modern Hare's Ear nymphs and Hughes' Hare's Ear Flymph, the classic, winged Hare’s Ear that Leisenring includes in The Art of Tying the Wet Fly and Fishing the Flymph (1941), which shows the influence of the Hare’s Ear wet fly that G. E. M. Skues included in Minor Tactics of the Chalk Stream (1910), was the predominant dressing of the Hare's Ear. 

While hare's ear often appears as the body material in North Country and Scottish patterns, it rarely shows up exclusively as a soft hackle  In the Practical Angler (1857), for instance, W. C. Stewart described the importance of “hare’s lug,” a Scottish denomination for hare’s ear fur, in dressing Border patterns, particularly for dressing his winged wet fly, the Hare-lug, which he fished alongside his famous, wingless spiders. Stewart draws distinctions like Hughes' for considering the silk in conjunction with the body to create a specific representational effect. He does prescribe specific wings for his three Hare-lug dressings, but the body remains consistent throughout.

The variations in each of Stewart's dressings recalls the Art of Angling (1843), where William Blacker lists similar dressings for the Hare’s Ear, identical in its versatility and the suggestion that any hackle or winging coupled with a hare’s ear body will fish:

“Body, Hare’s ear fur, and a little yellow mohair, mixed.
Wings, Starling, bunting, or woodcock.”

This dressing substitutes a mourning dove covert for the snipe undercovert John Kirkbride prescribes, and it uses tan thread. Also, it has"a tip of gold" for "when the water is brownish."

One of the few references to a Hare’s Ear dressed as a soft hackle or "spider" is in John Kirkbride’s Northern Angler (1837). Kirkbride gives dressings for two varieties of Hare’s Ear, one dressed with a dark fur body and the other dressed with a mixture of fur and yellow mohair; each body can be alternately winged or hackled, the wings and hackles being substituted for soft hackles. These are hardly the modern Gold-Ribbed Hare’s Ear or even Hare’s Ear Flymph. Kirkbride dressed the soft-hackled, dark-bodied  Hare’s Ear with a “fine hackle from the inside of the wing of a jack-snipe” and suggested that the fly tier “add a tip of gold when the water is brownish.” Kirkbride regards the Hare’s Ear as “an excellent spring fly; indeed, it will kill during the whole season.”