Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Light Sedge; or, Light Dun

This dressing substitutes a mottled quail covert for "light-barred" landrail coverts and uses a red fox squirrel belly fur rather than the "reddish fur from the thigh of a squirrel."



Red fox squirrel belly fur

Quail covert

Cock pheasant tail herl

In their Brook and River Trouting (1916), Harfield Edmonds and Norman Lee included the Light Sedge as a dressing for a June trichoptera that will fish well throughout the rest of the season. They dressed it with

“WINGS.—Hackled with a light-barred reddish feather, from the lesser coverts of a Landrail’s wing.
BODY.—Yellow silk, No. 4, dubbed with reddish fur from the thigh of a Squirrel.
HEAD.—A reddish herl from the tail of a cock Pheasant.”

Michael Theakston’s original dressing is variable enough to allow for a wide range of materials and substitutions. This dressing takes the following liberties: it uses burnt orange thread, Wapsi synthetic blend red fox squirrel belly fur for the body, and an American woodcock rump feather for the hackling.

Michael Theakston includes a dressing for the Light Dun in his List of Natural Flies (1843), which might correlate to the Light Sedge that Brooks and Lee list for June. Theakston’s Light Dun (a dun is a caddis or sedge in Theakston’s nomenclature) “commences hatching this month [April], and are plentiful in May in June, and again in autumn; but are out most in the dusk of evening.” Theakston’s insect is “the produce of the codbait,” a case-building caddis that constructs “artificial cases of some of the codbait tribe” with “small particles of vegetable substances mingled with those of stone, attached to them, which may impart a darker shade or freckle to the flies. The largest codbait creepers, when the case is covered with particles of stone only, produce the largest and lightest colored flies.”

Dressed in classic soft hackle style, rather than the winged pattern Theakstons preferred, the Light Dun is: “imitated with feathers from the landrail, brown owl, dotterel, brown hen, etcetera; with tawny, coppery colored silks, of lighter or darker shades.”

While it certainly was not dressed to match a British hatch, Ernest Schwiebert drew on the “little Scottish pattern called the Corncrake and Yellow” as the “basis for the accompanying pupal imitation for the accompanying pupal imitation of the Little Sand Sedge” he included in Nymphs (1973).The Little Sand Sedge American caddisfly that seems similar to those that historical British angling authors describe:

Hook: Sizes 12-14 Mustad 3906 sproat
Nylon: Tan 6/0 nylon
Body: Pale dirty-yellowish dubbing
Thorax: Light brown dubbing
Wing cases: Light gray duck quill sections tied at sides
Antennae: Lemon woodduck fibers
Head: Tan nylon”

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Eric's Beetle

This dressing substitutes a synthetic dubbing for peacock herl and starling hackle for hen. 



Primrose worsted wool underbody overwrapped with bronze Arizona synthetic peacock dubbing

Primrose worsted wool underbody showing at the tip

Starling shoulder hackle

In the 1975 Late-Season Angling issue of Fly Fisherman magazine, T. Donald Overfield gives a brief history and dressing instructions for a Eric’s Beetle, a fly designed in 1940, the “brainchild” of Eric Horsfall Turner. Overfield describes Turner as “an observant entomologist, a world-class competitive caster, an erudite writer and an accomplished fly dresser.” After observing a live beetle draw a strike where his floating flies had not, he studied and designed his artificial beetle. Turner made careful records of “all his dressing experiments and river tests.” He determined that “yellow wool” was the best color for the tip and “took more trout, under all conditions, than any other color,” and he noted also that "the peacock herl body proved superior to ostrich or marabou."

Overfield gives these instructions for dressing the fly that correspond to a series of numbered instructions: “Take a #12 hook and wind the black silk (1) to a point opposite the barb. Tie in a length of yellow wool (2). Take the silk forward for one eighth of an inch (3).Give the wool two or three close turns behind the silk to form a yellow butt (4); do not cut off the waste end. Tie in three peacock herls (5). Wind the silk to the starting point and tie in a small black hen hackle (6). Now wind the wool backwards and forwards (7) to provide a plump body. Take the herl (8) and wind in close even turns over the wool (9). Give the hackle only three turns (10) and complete the fly.”

Overfield notes that Eric’s Beetle is best fished “upstream, with the leader greased to within three or four inches of the tippet point; as the fly drifts downstream under overhanging foliage, sinking the while, it often brings surprising results.” Such a technique would likely work well for other beetle patterns like the Marlow Buzz, Starling and Herl, Bracken Clock, or perhaps T. E. Pritt's Black Snipe