Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Grouse and Yellow



Yellow Pearsall’s gossamer silk

Yellow tying silk

Pale speckled brown grouse covert

In the appendix to the third edition (1950) his Modern Trout Fly Dressing (1932), Roger Woolley includes a group of soft hackled dressings that utilize grouse. No. 139, the Grouse and Yellow, is a classic soft hackle, dressed only with yellow tying silk and a grouse hackle. Woolley also pairs grouse with orange and claret silk. 

The efficacy of a simple grouse-hackled and thread-bodied dressing is evident in the wide variety of body colors that angling authors have historically grouped under the name Grouse Hackle. In The Longest Silence (1999), Thomas McGuane recalls the "match-box of homemade flies" that his Irish angling companion Ned Noonan carried to the River Maigue - it was full of "grouse-and-orange, grouse and anything you could name." 

John Kirkbride's Grouse Hackle in the Northern Angler (1837) is a similar sort of catch-all dressing, which included a variations of the fly that might be termed the Grouse and Green, Grouse and Yellow, or the Grouse and Orange, too. Similarly, Mary Orvis Marbury mentions the Grouse Hackle as an instance of a popular dressing included on the first plate of flies in her Favorite Flies and Their Histories (1892) and named after “the feather of which it is made,” in contrast to the Red Hackle, “White Hackle, Yellow Hackle, Black Hackle, and a number of other” dressings that “are named simply after their color.” Of course, the dressings she cites are named according to their hackle, whereas different dressings of the Grouse Hackle, in historical texts like Marbury's, are rarely distinguished. The plate in Marbury's Favorite Flies depicts a Grouse Hackle that is heavily dressed, has an orange body, and a tan or gold rib. 

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