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.”


  1. Neil,
    Enjoy your site and writing immensely. Not sure where your recipes for the 3 olives come from but they don't match the recipes in my 1947 first edition of Lawrie's "The Rough Stream Nymph". Although I'm sure they are suitable substitutes.
    Phil Foster

    1. My primary source text for this post was Sylvester Nemes's Two Centuries of Soft-Hackled Flies (2004). His survey lists the text in chapter 27. I attribute the differences to Nemes's modernization of the patterns, "whenever seemed necessary." I'll add the originals to this post to show the contrast. Cheers

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