For me, fly dressing has always been a very enjoyable and extremely important part of fly fishing. When I first started dressing flies, finding decent hen or cock capes was extremely difficult or almost impossible. This has dramatically changed and today we can find with ease a range of neck and saddle capes to satisfy the most pernickety fly-dresser.
Despite the excellent and vast array of readily available synthetic materials, I am always drawn back to natural materials and enjoy the challenge of trying to produce subtle colours by using local plants and roots including everyday items such as onion skins. I record the results of my dye experiments and a book detailing my notes on the use of natural dyes was published in 2016 by Coch-Y-Bonddu books. I enjoyed the experience leading up to the publication and am grateful to Paul Morgan for giving me the opportunity to publish the book.
I have always enjoyed reading old angling books and am continually impressed at the levels some of the fly dressers/anglers of days long gone went to in pursuit of their sport. I admire the way they communicated without the availability of modern-day computers, fast broadband, and mobile phones. They documented everything in meticulous detail, without their books and records a significant amount of history would be lost to the passage of time.
After reading articles on old horsehair fly lines, I have made a tapered horsehair line and the strength of the hair has surprised me. Individual strands of hair were placed together and twisted together to form a lynk or snood. They were then joined by knots to other lynkys. To build on the experience of making the first line, I have plans to make a knotless line.
I continually strive to get a better understanding of the skills used and the problems met by fly dressers/anglers of days long gone. Achieving that level of understanding will add to the satisfaction I already receive from this fascinating and rewarding passion.
The Black Silk
(Ernest Crosfield - The Salmon and Trout Magazine - January 1923)
Tag: Silver tinsel and yellow floss.
Tail: Golden Pheasant topping and tippet in strands.
Body: Black floss ribbed with oval silver tinsel.
Body hackle: Claret.
Under wing: Tippet in strands, the point of a golden pheasant breast feather and one or two toppings.
Throat: Blue Jay.
Over wing: About six strands of a golden pheasant's tail and about two strands from an Amherst pheasant's tail to be tied on together on the left side and again on the right side.
Roof: Two narrow strips of dark mallard.