Friday, January 13, 2017

Ancient and Experimental

I have been fly-fishing now for the past twenty-four years, six of those years with a tenkara rod in my hand.  Since 2009, like many of my fellow American-tenkara anglers, I have treated fixed-line fishing as a grand experiment.  All kinds of ghastly flies have been on the end of my line, and at some point this winter, I began to ask myself why I was using a tenkara rod at all when I could just as easily pick up my dusty 5 weight and lob heavy nymphs and streamers.  I have nothing against the experimentation that is inherent in our culture.  Heck without it we wouldn't have the tasty craft beer that I so enjoy.  But tenkara, as practiced in Japan, has an inherent refinement and elegance in its simplicity and its reliance on stealth and skill.  I liken it to comparing modern archery to hunting with a longbow.  Not better, just different, and something I would like to explore further as a personal interest.

So in that vein I have been experimenting with simple, light flies that perform double-duty as dry and/or wet.  Most of the patterns are simply thread and quality dry fly hackle.  Pouring through one of my favorite blogs, "Small Stream Reflections," I stumbled across a British blog entitled "Dry Fly Expert."  There I found two patterns that really caught my eye, Charles Cotton's Black Fly and the ancient Macedonian Red Hackle.  Essentially the same flies, they share a simple wool body with palmered hackle and in the case of the later fly, a tail.

Cotton's Black Fly

My version of the Red Hackle.  These patterns are akin to the southern "Palmer" flies, the midwestern "Crackleback, and a whole host of other modern bushy dry flies. I know these are just names and a fly tyer's whimsy, but there is something reassuring that a pattern that worked 2,000 years ago continues to produce today.  

No comments:

Post a Comment