We're going way back for this one. This is one for my
hero, F.M. Halford, the inventor and promoter of "match
the hatch" fishing, the eyed hook, wings as we use them
today, and dry fly fishing in general. He is largely
responsible for the purist approach to fly fishing, both
the good and the bad aspects thereof. He was a devote of
the chalk streams in the South of England, and when I was
young I thought this the highest, purest sort of fly fishing,
and endeavored to follow in the footsteps of those who had
aspired to this, the noblest of pursuits. Choosing the
dry fly, the most sporting of all ways to fish, I was to
embark upon a lifelong journey, almost a religious quest
if you will, in search of I'm not sure what. Many fishless
The Harlequin is found in Halford's book Floating Flies,
number 79 in a list of 81 flies. There really aren't that many,
he has several versions of many flies, including seven olives,
two hare's ears, three iron blue duns, and a number of green
drakes. Halford went to some lengths to get just the right
feathers for his wings, using Coot, Adjutant, Snipe (I always
thought this to be a mythical bird, the "snipe hunt"
notwithstanding), Chaffinch tail, Landrail, Rouen Drake, Canadian
Summer Duck, Jay, several shades of Starling, Woodcock, and
a partridge in a pair tree. I made up the last one. In fact,
I was hard pressed to find a fly that I thought I could reasonably
duplicate with today's materials. But hold on, I had Blue Jay wings!
All right, I would do the Harlequin!
Well, as it turns out, Blue Jay quill is just about
impossible to use for dry fly quill wings, at least
it was for me. These quills are much finer than mallard,
and might work for wet fly wings, but how you get a decent
looking pair of dry fly wings out of these is beyond me.
They split the minute I wrapped two wraps of thread around
them. Could it be that F. M. Halford was that much better
a fly dresser that I am? Could be. So I went right to mallard,
and stayed there through the wet and dry versions of the
Harlequin. The dry is above, the wet, below.
I'm not quite sure if this is actually a Halford pattern
or not. He says this about it:
"An old-fashioned pattern, which might with advantage be
used by the modern school of Anglers, especially for
Does he mean that is was a wet fly pattern that he turned
into a dry? I'm not sure. The fly was tied both ways throughout
history. Mary Orvis Marbury shows it as a dry, and lists it as
a Halford pattern. Ray Bergman has it as a wet. I've covered
all bases, and tied both. One can't be too careful. Here is
the recipe, which also covers both bases:
Wings: From Jay wing.
Credits: Credits: English Trout Flies
by W.H. Lawrie; Trout by Ray Bergman;
Favorite Flies and their Histories by Mary
Orvis Marbury. ~ Eric Austin
Hackle: Black cock.
Body: Lower half orange floss silk, upper half
blue floss silk, the whole body ribbed with gold wire.
Hook: 0 to 3 (that's #15 to #12 for you and me).
I tied the dry using #14, the wet using #12.