Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Cumberland; or, Crimson Partridge



Red Pearsall’s gossamer silk

Tying silk

Medium partridge

In his treatment of Hills’s A Summer on the Test (1924) in Two Centuries of Soft-Hackled Flies (2004), Nemes cites Hills’s passing comment on the pattern: “One of the softest, most compressible, patterns is the partridge hackle, and, whether this be the reason or not, I consider it the best sunk fly on the Test. Its body, of silk, can be of many colours. I find the old Cumberland pattern, the orange partridge, best, and next to that the red.” By Nemes's account, anglers  on the Test seemingly drew little distinction between the red and orange bodies, although the Partridge and Orange has endured as a more distinct, popular fly for generations of anglers.

In The Soft-Hackled Fly Addict (1981), Sylvester Nemes names the Cumberland, a fly which John Waller Hills seemingly only mentions in passing. Nemes notes that “Hills believed this fly to be the most effective sunk fly on the Test, particularly on hot days and in slow water,” and he provides this dressing for Hills’s fly:

Body: Red or orange silk floss
Hackle: Medium partridge
Rib: Narrow gold wire

Dressed with a rib, the Cumberland becomes the Orange Partridge that Harfield Norman and Edmond Lee list in their Brook and River Trouting (1916). In his River Keeper (1934), which Nemes also notes, Hills recalls a similar, ribbed pattern favored by the riverkeeper William Lunn, the Red Partridge Hackle.

In list of his thirty North Country flies, included at the head of Fly Fishing: The North Country Tradition (1994), Leslie Magee attributes the dressing, the Crimson Partridge, to an unnamed 1887 publication by James Blades. Robert L. Smith includes the Crimson Partridge, one of James Blades’ patterns “taken from T K Wilson’s angling articles in the Dalesman magazine of 1949,” in an appendix at the end of his The North Country Fly: Yorkshire’s Soft Hackle Tradition (2015). He additionally notes that the Crimson Partridge is a “splendid fly in a full brown water from the beginning of the season to the end.” Many of the manuscript and publications that Smith includes list the fly less as a dressing for hot days and slow water, like Hills, and more of a dressing for discolored water.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Gray Hen Hackle Wet; or Grey Nymph





Grizzly hen

Dave Hughes includes the Gray Hen Hackle Wet in the color plates that accompany the first edition of his Wet Flies (1995). To dress the fly, Hughes recommends:

“Hook: 2x stout, size 10-16.
Thread: Gray 6/0 or 8/0 nylon.
Hackle: Grizzle hen.
Body: Muskrat fur dubbing.”

Charles Brooks dressed a similar fly, the Grey Nymph, with a tail. He describes in the list of patterns he includes at the end of Nymph Fishing for Larger Trout (1976):

Tail: Badger hair.
Body: Neutral gray fur; muskrat or similar.
Hackle: Soft gray grizzly.
Thread: Black Nymo.”

The image in the color plates that precede the list depict a full-bodied, heavily-tail and –hackled Grey Nymph. Brooks notes that it is a “very simple but effective fly.” He might have added that it has likely been around for a long time, as evidence by other shaggy, modern patterns like Pat's Nymph.