This fly changed quite a bit from the one shown in
Favorite Flies and Their Histories.
The original had Partridge quill wings and brown
hackle palmered halfway down the body. There is
little history, but Mary Orvis Marbury relates
the fly to a song, as follows:
"We do not know the story of this fly, but its name
always reminds us of the pretty little song with its
dancing refrain. The fly must have been named 'under
the spreading greenwood tree,' while to the accompaniment
of rippling waters somebody sang:
I'm not familiar with the song, which may well have
been lost in the annals of time along with the fly. I
very much liked Ray Bergman's rendition of Esmeralda,
and decided to do that version above. Here are the
recipes for both versions:
- "A home among the free, Esmeralda, – Esmeralda. – Zingara !"
Mary Orvis Marbury's Esmeralda
Wing: Mottled partridge.
Credits: Favorite Flies and Their Histories
by Mary Orvis Marbury; Flies by J. Edson Leonard:
Trout by Ray Bergman. ~ EA
Hackle: Brown, brown Palmer one half.
Body: Gray wool, green-blue floss tag, gold tip.
Ray Bergman's Esmeralda
Body: Light green floss.
Ribbing: Yellow silk ribbing.
Tail: Brown mallard.
Wing: Light slate.
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