Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Brown Watchet; Orange Brown

This dressing substitutes hen hackle for partridge back.

Hook:

12-18
Thread:

Orange
Body:

Orange Pearsall’s gossamer silk
Hackle:

Speckled hen; here, Whiting Brahma hen hackle
Head:

Peacock herl



This In his North-Country Flies (1886), T. E. Pritt lists his No. 31 Brown Watchet or Little Brown Dun alongside the more famous, quintessential Orange Partridge, No. 32, noting that they are almost identical and that he prefers the simpler dressing, No. 32, without the peacock head. He dressed the Brown Watchett or Little Brown Dun with

“WINGS.-Hackled with a well dappled feather from a Partridge’s back.
BODY.-Orange silk.
HEAD.-Peacock herl.”

Pritt notes that “the angler may look upon one of them as indispensable on his cast from April to September, on warm days.” While he recommends them to match a mayfly, Norman Edwards and Harfield Lee note in their Brook and River Trouting (1916) that their No. 6, essentially the same as Pritt's No. 31 and 32, can be fished to imitate both a mayfly and a stonefly, the Red Brown

This Brown Watchet substitutes quail covert for wren tail hackling and uses orange Pearsall's marabou silk for the body.


John Turton's Brown Watchet “by some anglers called the Orange Brown,” No. 3 in his Angler's Manual (1836), is almost identical to Pritt's No. 31, with the exception of the hackle. Turton claims the Brown Watchet “kills all year” and dressed it with “light orange silk; wing, a wren's tail feather; body, bright light orange silk; head, green peacock's feather. In dark water, with a little green peacock feather under the wing.” Rather than substitute a red grouse neck hackle for wren’s tail, this dressing follows the hackling equivalent that James Blades listed for his Wren Tail in a list Robert L. Smith appended to his North Country Fly: Yorkshire’s Soft Hackle Tradition (2015), available from Coch-y-Bonddu Books: Blades' dressing equates the hackle “from the outside of a quail wing” with hackling from a “wren tail.”

Turton points out that “this is so noted a fly to kill with, that anglers, asked what the fish are taking, frequently say – ‘Wren Tail and Orange for ever!’” Interestingly, Turton also noted that “a little brown bear's down is used at the spring of the year, twisted round the silk.” This dressing, orange silk with reddish brown fur, recalls the Winter Brown that Roger Woolley dressed to include early stoneflies and included in the third edition of his Modern Fly Dressing (1950).

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