Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Dark Snipe and Green



Pearsall’s Green Gossamer silk

Snipe covert

The Dark Snipe and Green appears on two lists that Robert Lakeland includes in his Teesdale Angler (1858), the “List of Hackle Flies from February to November” and the “List of Hackles and Silks to Suit (Good Killers).” In both lists, the Dark Snipe and Green is dressed for August, and the name provides the directions for dressing the fly.

While it falls outside the Anglo-American province of this blog, the medieval Austrian 
Haslinger Breviary Fishing Tract
 (c. 1440) lists a fly that seems at least distantly related to the Dark Snipe and Green of Lakeland's lists, although the Tract uses a dingy-olive woodpecker hackle rather than the muddy-dun tones of snipe. Richard C. Hoffman transcribes this dressing as a fly for November or “other autumn” in Richard C. Hoffman's translation of the Breviary. He transcribes the dressing or dressings thus: “und nym gruenspachen federn und wint grĂșen und gelib darunder,” which he translates as “and take green woodpecker feathers and wind green and yellow [silk] under that.” He notes that the green woodpecker is “native across temperate Europe” and that it “has dull olive green upper parts and pale gray-green beneath.” The simple breaks, und or and, between flies on the list and between materials for dressing flies suggests two possible ways of dressing the flies. Either these hackled flies are dressed with bodies from two silks—the fly would have a woodpecker hackle and body of green and yellow silk wound like the Sylvester Lister's March Brown or T. E. Pritt's Little Dark Watchet—or with single silk bodies that share a common hackle—a woodpecker hackle with a body of green silk or, alternately, a woodpecker hackle with a body of yellow silk. The author's economy of language suggests the latter reading is more accurate, that the dressings conflate different silk bodies that can be dressed from the same bird's hackles, like William Brumfitt's Dark Snipe and Orange or Dark Snipe and Purple.