H. C. Cutcliffe on West-country Flies 1863.

Lawrie stated that this was “one of the best books describing the the true West-Country trout fly was ‘The Art of Trout Fishing on Rapid Streams’, 1863, by H. C. Cutcliffe.

  Dealing mainly with fly-fishing on the smaller streams of North Devon - in particular The Taw. the Mole, the Bray, the Nymph or Nymp, and the Barle - Cutcliffe gives a list of thirty-eight original pattern of large size and bright and attractive character. These flies dressed with the best of feather and fur materials, are extremely interesting in many respects and are excellent examples of dressings likely to appeal to the rapacity of trout in streamy water, and, in not a few cases, even to suggest very well natural insects. The liking for silver and gold twist or tinsel and plenty of hackle, typical of West-Country flies , is revealed in these patterns. They are of large size by deliberate intent for the fishing of the rapid parts of a river, and their inventor is well aware of the necessity of using very small flies and the finest of gut for deeper and more placid water. Nevertheless, these large bright dressings are not carelessly made, and great care is taken over the blending of the body dubbing, the selection of the hackle, and the matching of the hackle and body colours, and the ‘set’ of the hackle itself. Most of the patterns are wingless, the hackled style, as in the North-Country, being preferred. The difficulty today is to find Game Cock hackle of the bright, sparkling quality insisted upon for their proper dressing.” This was the situation in 1967 when Lawrie’s book was published. Nowadays modern cock hackle would probably be suitable, although the colours required may be a problem.

“The hooks used are those of the Kirby bend of Hutchinson’s of Kendal; and the tying silk is of a straw-colour. The yellow dye mentioned is a strong solution of turmeric, in which a lump of alum has been dissolved, and in which the fur are boiled for some minutes.     

 

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