I don't have much information on this week's old fly.
All I have comes from Francis Francis' A Book on
Angling. He mentions that the fly is from
"Farlow's", (a very famous British Fly Shop) but doesn't
actually attribute the creation of the fly to them. The
fly is included in the book in a section on the Scottish
river Laxford, along with one other fly, surprisingly
enough, the Laxford.
Francis Francis goes into a little discussion concerning
the color of the hackle on this fly, referring to it as
"claretty brown". He goes on to say "this, as in the case
of No. 4 in the Lochy list, is what I consider fiery brown,
only I fear the fate of poor Martin Kelly if I attempt to
decide this awful shade of mystery." I'm not sure what
happened to Martin Kelly here, who apparently attempted to
define fiery brown and was at the very least castigated
and ridiculed for his attempt, and at worse, hung. There
has been considerable rancor generated over the years
concerning this shade. I bowed out of the debate completely
with my fly, and mixed claret and brown hackle, resulting
in a nice "claretty brown," and avoided the whole fiery brown
controversy all together.
There is a section of the recipe that is unclear to me, and
it concerns the under wing, which consists of "a gold pheasant
rump and a saddle feather." The golden pheasant rump feather
is no problem, there are lots of cool feathers around the
rump of the pheasant that range from yellow to orange to
fiery red (I didn't say fiery brown, I said fiery red). I
went with a fiery red one, and a matching saddle hackle
from a chicken. I probably, on re-reading this, should have
done a "gold," and maybe a matching hackle, I don't know.
Too late now I'm afraid, maybe next time I'll do the gold.
The color of the saddle is not specified anyway, so you can
use some artistic license here. Mine was recently confiscated
at a gala, as it had expired.
One other small change I made here, which was I think an
effective one, was to substitute Kenya Crested Guinea for
the "good slice of gallina." It worked really nicely for
the topping, or roof of the fly in this case, as I was able
to use it just as I would have used bronze mallard in another
fly. The Keny Crested Guinea really stays together in this
application, and I like the look. Here's the recipe for the
Credits: A Book on Angling by Francis Francis.
Tag: Silver twist, and lemon-yellow floss.
Tail: A topping, teal and some blue macaw sprigs.
Butt: Black ostrich herl.
Body: Half lemon-yellow floss, and half pig's wool
of the same colour(sic) as in the Colonel.
Hackle: Claretty brown.
Shoulder [throat]: Speckled gallina .
Wing: A gold pheasant rump and a saddle feather,
sprigs of gold pheasant tail, and florican, yellow and
blue sprigs, with a few fibres of gold pheasant sword
feather, over all a good slice of gallina.
I started fly fishing as a teen in and around my hometown
of Plattsburgh, New York, primarily on the Saranac River.
I started tying flies almost immediately and spent hours
with library books written by Ray Bergman, Art Lee, and
A. J. McClane. Almost from the beginning I liked tying
just as much as I liked fishing and spent considerable
time at the vise creating hideous monstrosities that
somehow caught fish anyway. Then one day I came upon a
group of flies that had been put out at a local drug store
that had been tied by Francis Betters of Wilmington, N.Y.
My life changed that day and so did my flies, dramatically.
Even though I never met Fran back then, I've always
considered him to be one of my biggest influences.
I had a career in music for twenty years or so and didn't
fish much, though I did fish at times. The band I was with
had its fifteen seconds of fame when we were asked to be in
John Mellencamp's movie "Falling From Grace." I am the
keyboard player on the right in the country club scene in
the middle of the movie. Don't blink. It's on HBO all the
time. We got to meet big Hollywood stars and record in John's
studio. It was a blast.
So how did I wind up contributing to the Just Old Flies
column on FAOL? I'm not sure, it was something that I simply
wanted very badly to do, and they let me. Many of the old flies
take me back to the Adirondacs and my youth, and I guess I get
to relive some of it through the column. I've spent many happy
hours fishing and tying over the years, and tying these flies
brings back memories of great days on the water, and intense
hours spent looking at the flies in the fly plates in the old
books and trying to get my flies to look like them. And now,
here I am, still doing that to this day. ~ EA