Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Turkey Brown; Little Brown Dun; Little Dark Brown

This dressing follows Alfred Ronalds’ suggestion for dressing the Turkey Brown “buzz,” as a hackled rather than a winged fly.



Red hackle, matching as closely as possible the grouse hackle

Purple Pearsall’s gossamer silk

Embroidery thread - DMC 938 dark coffee brown

Grouse covert

Alfred Ronalds includes the Turkey Fly or Little Brown Dun as No. 22 in his Fly-Fisher’s Entomology (1836) to imitate a May mayfly: Order, Neuroptera. Family, Ephemeridæ. Genus, Ephemera.

“It is to be used on cold days ; is a very good fly upon some waters ; and is in season from about the time that the March Brown becomes scarce until the end of June.*

BODY.  Dark brown floss silk ribbed with purple silk thread.
TAIL.  A whisk or two of a red cock's hackle, stained as for the legs.
WINGS. Tip of the brownest feather from a partridge's tail, or, if well selected, a feather may be found on the back of the partridge.
LEGS.  Red cock's hackle stained a good brown with copperas.

To make it buzz, a feather from the Grouse may be tied on, in the manner shown in the imitation of the Green Drake, No. 28.

* A fly is found upon some waters, similar in every respect to the above, except that the wings partake of the colour of the Iron-blue. The Little-dark-Spinner, No. 23., answers for its metamorphosis”

Although it seems like a stretch, T. E. Pritt correlates his No. 32, the Orange Partridge or Little Brown Dun in North-Country Flies (1886), Turkey Fly, which suggests other precedents to and heirs of Ronalds’ dressing, like the Brown Watchet

This dressing substitutes split silk buttonhole twist – Belding-Corticelli 8545 purple, size D, for violet camlet and uses beaver as a “dark brown dubbing.” It uses a mourning dove covert for the hackle and purple silk for the body and head.

Even more speculative is the possible connection between the Turkey Brown and a Restoration-era dressing, the Little Dark Brown. In his Anglers Vade Mecum (1681), James Chetham reprints the list of flies that Charles Cotton added as the second part (1676) of Izaak Walton’s Compleat Angler (1653). Both authors list the Little Dark Brown as the second fly for April and dress the “little dark brown, the dubbing of that colour, and some violet Camlet mixt, and the wing of the grey feather of the Mallard.” It's name, dirty purplish body, and emergence suggest a possible connection between this dress and Ronalds' Turkey Brown. They also suggest a distant connection to the Small Dark Dun Spider

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