Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Olive Nymphs, Nos. 1-3

This dressing represents Olive Nymph No. 1 in W. H. Lawrie’s list, and it follows Sylvester Nemes’ suggestion of substituting muskrat fur for blue cat fur in the body. It also assigns antron for the thorax.




Olive hackle fibers

Small gold wire

Yellow tying thread dubbed sparsely with muskrat

Light olive antron

Furnace hen’s hackle

In Two Centuries of the Soft-Hackled Fly (2005), Sylvester Nemes includes dressings from W. H. Lawrie’s The Book of the Rough Stream Nymph (1947). He notes that Lawrie includes “only fourteen patterns in the book (I had the same number of soft-hackled flies in my first book), nine of which represent nymphs and five of which represent hatching duns or, to use the modern name, emergers.” Nemes notes that he has “‘modernized’ the patterns whenever necessary,” substituting “some dubbings and hackles for acid-dyed furs and feathers.” Nemes's substitutions are in brackets below.

Lawrie dressed Olive Nymphs thus:

“(1) Olive Nymph. Hook No. 14.
Hackle: Furnace hackle.
Body: Yellow tying silk waxed with brown cobbler’s wax, and dubbed lightly with blue cat fur [muskrat], the whole ribbed with fine gold wire.
Whisks: Three strands of live hen feather fibres.
Thorax: Light olive. [This pattern is simply a variant of the wet Greenwell’s Glory.]

(2) Olive Nymph. Hook No. 14.
Hackle: Dark blue hen hackle dyed a deep olive shade.
Body: Dark hare-lug [hare’s ear] and muskrat fur spun on primrose tying silk, ribbed with fine gold wire.
Whisks: Three fibres of soft rust hen feather.
Thorax: Dark muskrat spun onto tying silk below hackle.

(3) Olive Nymph. Hook No. 14.
Hackle: Dark blue hen.
Body: Olive dyed peacock quill. [Or olive thread or floss.]
Whisks: Three strands of dark blue hen.
Thorax: Dark muskrat.”

Lawrie's dressings provide variations on dressings of Olive nymphs and soft hackles such as the Blue Dun.

Nemes's occasional modernization might result in similar effects, but the materials can be quite different. Lawrie listed the first dressing for his Olive Nymph in The Book of the Rough Stream Nymph (1947) and reprinted it in Scottish Trout Flies (1966):

“1. Hackle:  Furnace hen hackle, two turns.
Body:  Yellow tying silk waxed with cobblers wax, and ribbed with fine gold wire.
Thorax:  Blue cat’s fur dyed in picric acid and spun on to tying-silk immediate below the hackle.
Whisks:  Three short strands blue hen feather, undyed or dyed olive in picric acid.

2. Hackle:  Dark blue dun dyed a deep olive shade, two turns.
Body:  Dark hare-lug fur spun on primrose tying-silk and ribbed with find gold wire.
Thorax:  Dark blue cat’s fur spun on to tying-silk immediately below the hackle.

3. Hackle:  Dark blue hen—very soft—two turns.
Body:  Strip of quill from wing-feather of wood-pigeon dyed in picric acid.
Thorax:  Dark blue cat’s fur spun on to tying-silk below hackle.
Whisks:  Three strands fibre of the dark blue hen.

All the above are dressed on long-shank No. 14 square-bend hooks.”

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Smoky Mountain Blackbird; Crow Fly; or, Black Palmer

This dressing of the Smoky Mountain Blackbird is unweighted and uses the 2x dry fly hook in size 14 that other flies in this blog use. Also, following an almost identical dressing by Roger Lowe, the Crow Fly, it uses a starling primary for the palmer.




Starling primary barbules, tied the length of the hook shank

Peacock herl

Split starling primary

L. J. DeCuir includes the Smoky Mountain Blackbird in his Southeastern Flies (2001), noting the similarities between it and the better known Yallerhammer—it uses a peacock herl body and “utilizes the split wing feather of a bird.” DeCuir gives this dressing for the fly:

Hook: Mustad 9672, TMC 5263 or 3x or 4x Streamer Hook #4-10
Thread: Black
Weight: ‘Lead’ wire [or lead substitute]
Tail: Barbules from the wing feather of a blackbird
Palmered Rib: Split wing feather of a blackbird
Body: Peacock herl”

While the Smoky Mountain Blackbird most resembles DeCuir’s tailless dressing of the Yallerhammer, “it can also be fished like a Woolly Bugger,” even though, as DeCuir notes, it is “usually fished in the mountains of the Southeast like most heavily weighted nymphs.”

The “blackbird” of DeCuir’s Smoky Mountain Blackbird does not specify a species like the distinctive Yallerhammer, despite their similarities, and there are nearly thirty species of blackbird in the Americas. Roger Lowe gives an almost identical dressing in his Fly Pattern Guide to the Great Smoky Mountains (2001), which he calls Crow Fly. He notes that it is “tied similar to the Yellow Hammer but with a Crow feather; imitates the molting stonefly.”

“Hook: 9671 Mustad
Thread: Black
Body: Black yarn or peacock herl
Hackle: Biot quill from Crow or Starling”

Similar tailless dressings exist, most often listed as a Black Palmer. John Turton’s includes a Black Palmer Fly in his Angler’s Manual (1836) for fishing in the latter part of the season, from “July to September.” He dresses it “with dark orange silk; wing, black hen’s hackle feather; body, copper-coloured peacock’s feather; after rains, ribbed with silver twist.”

Roger Woolley includes a Black Palmer in a later edition of Modern Trout Flies (1950) that does not list a thread color, as is usually the case with the flies on Woolley’s list, but includes the materials for dressing Turton’s “after rains” Black Palmer Fly, with a rib of silver wire rather than silver twist. It could easily be dressed with the dark orange thread Turton gives.

The name Black Palmer covers a variety of dressings, the black referring either to the hackle, as in Turton’s dressing, or the body, like the Black Palmers of Alfred Ronalds’ and Charles Bowlker’s. Both Ronald’s and Bowlker’s dressings, in The Fly-Fisher’s Entomology (1836) and The Art of Angling (1774) respectively, utilize a black ostrich body, silver twist, and either a black or red cock’s hackle palmer.

John Jackson’s Practical Fly Fisher (1853) includes a dressing for the black palmer that is much more variable (and includes a variation that is very similar to the Yallerhammer):

Body.—Dark Peacock’s, or Ostrich’s herl, ribbed with gold tinsel and green silk.
Black, brown, or dark red Cock’s hackle over all.”