Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Hackled Deul Cruik

This dressing substitutes red-brown fur from a rabbit’s neck for the “brown fox’s ear” in the original dressing, following the cue from a similar dressing in Sylvester Lister’s later manuscript. It also uses an American woodcock covert in place of an English woodcock covert.


Yellow and orange Pearsall's gossamer silk wound up the shank alongside each other and dubbed with red-brown rabbit's neck fur

Woodcock covert

Robert L. Smith’s recently published The North Country Fly: Yorkshire’s Soft Hackle Tradition (2015), available at from Coch-y-Bonddu Books, highlights manuscripts and largely forgetten fly fishing publications dating back to the mid-eighteenth century. He cites “The Wharfe Dale List” from Joseph Wells’ Contemplative and Practical Angler (1842), which includes a Hackled and Winged Deul Cruik. The Hackled dressing is dressed with “Wings outside of woodcock’s wing, yellow and orange silk, brown fox’s ear for body.”  Smith notes that the Deul Cruik is includes in six additional texts. In other texts, its shows up under different names, like the Great Brown Deel Crook in William Lister’s manuscript (1712), the Deel Cruik in James Pickard’s manuscript (1794), and the Devil’s Crook (Hackle) in Stephen Braithwaite’s list (early eighteenth century).

In his 1820 manuscript, Jonathan Pickard’s list notes that the Dule Crook is another name for the March Brown. The Hackled Deul Cruik almost identical to the dressing that Sylvester Lister includes in his manuscript (1898) for the March Brown or Drake. Like Smith, Leslie Magee includes the manuscript in his Fly Fishing: The North Country Tradition (1994). Lister’s March Brown or Drake is dressed with a “feather reddish speckled from a partridge tail or outside woodcock wing. Head, yellow silk, body orange and yellow silk twisted and dubbed with reddish fur from fox’s ear or rabbit’s neck. Remarks Appears about April 1st. Good killer until beginning of May.” Unlike many the dressings and lists Smith includes, Braithwaite's manuscript list gives separate dressings for the March Brown and Devil Crook (Hackle): the former is dressed with a buddy of "cinnamon silk dubbed with fur orbrown bear"; the latter, with "ash-coloured silk dubbed with a little fur from for a hare's ear."

(Using alternating, side-by-side wraps of silk dubbed with fur is noteworthy body for the effect it creates, but it is by no means unique. The Little Dark Watchet that T. E. Pritt dressed used orange and purple wraps of silk dubbed with muskrat.)


  1. There is a fly that speaks.
    Very nice Neil.

  2. nice looking fly, that will catch a fish or two.

  3. Nice tie Neil. The shrouding effect created with the dubbing touched to silk is killing. Modern tyers take note. And, I agree, pretty sure this one is meant to fish for March brown.

    Putting together an archive of modern designs by contemporary tyers at Soft~Hackle Journal. Hope you'll check it out, perhaps present a favorite in the Modern Archive.

    1. Thanks, Steve - I like the effect on the Little Dark Watchet, too, with the orange and purple silk. I'd love to submit a favorite of my own to the Modern Archive - that's the kind of resource I'd love to see. And use.

  4. I just discovered your blog and I am fairly certain I have stepped into soft hackle heaven. Thanks so much!

    1. Welcome, Al - every second Wednesday, you can expect a new post. Check back soon!