Sandbagged!

Sandbagged!
Photograph by Steve Barnett

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Charles Cotton's Black-Fly!


No it is not a Fifth Edition! it is only a Seventh...
In 1676 Charles Cotton had it as one of the pretenders to the crown of "Mayfly" but it came in Bronze Medal position after the Stonefly (Silver Medal) and the Drake (Gold Medal).  It is superb as a Hawthorn Fly and seems not to suffer through a lack of legs and wings.

Click on the image and click again to see it larger


Here is how Charles Cotton described the dressing:


See how few words he needed to describe the dressing.  For the sake of clarity here below will be a somewhat longer description...









With the hook in the vice masking the point, this is a size 14 Edgar Sealey, run on a short bed of black thread like so, leaving a space behind the eye.

Tie in some fine silver braid ("silver twist")

Tie in the silver braid as you continue the bed of thread down to the bend.  At the bend tie in one black herl from an Ostrich feather.

Run the thread back to the start of the body.  Wind the herl in close touching turns to make a flue brush shaped body and tie it in behind the hook eye.

Snip off the waste ostrich herl and tie in the black cock's hackle as shewn with the dull, concave side facing you.

Snip off the waste hackle stalk and wind the thread back to the front as shewn
 
Wind the first four turns as close touching turns, the same as you would do for a plain hackled fly and then wind the hackle down over the body in open spiralled ribbing turns to the bend.  Tie in the hackle very tightly with the silver braid (this is why the braid was tied in at the middle of the hook with lots of turns to anchor it safely for this tight tying).  Carry on tightly winding the silver braid up the fly in open ribbing turns finishing at the eye next to the thread.  Tie in the braid with the thread and snip off the excess braid.

Make a bold head with a tight whip finish and varnish it well.  Use the waste hackle point from your pliers to pull through the eye whilst the varnish is still wet.

The finished Charles Cotton's Black-Fly
 This is one of those flies that just goes on and on catching fish. It works so very well whenever fish are aware of food that is black, being able to represent beetles as well as various flies both terrestrial and aquatic. It is also a very good fly to use at night when facing west and the water is lit the same colour as the sky. In fact the first time I ever used it was in desperation on Derbyshire's Derwent. I couldn't see my fly so tried the Black Fly in an attempt to see it against the reflected night sky on the water's surface. It was so effective it was still catching fish after midnight.Towards the end of the Hawthorn Fly's season use this fly in bigger sizes 12 or even 10 and DO USE A HEAVY TIPPET.  By the end of the Hawthorn's time the fish have learnt to grab these terrestrial casualties quickly and firmly as they may escape.  You need hardly strike in these conditions, the fish will often hook themselves.  In any case the rises are so violent a fine tippet is asking for trouble.  I use nothing lighter than 5x (about 5lbs BS Co-Polymer) at this exciting time.




Regular Rod

8 comments:

  1. Great fly! I am asking for that trouble you mention, I would fish this fly in a 22 on 6 or 7x and have my way with a big fish! thanks for sharing this fly

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  2. You may find the materials are too big for a size 22. The Ostrich herl would likely block the gape of the hook although it might work with no herl, very fine silver wire and the shortest barbed hackles you can find from near the ear holes in the cape... If you can do it you would have a very good smut or black midge fake for those hot days in high summer.

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  3. Interesting fly, just shows how little things have changed..
    Interesting comment about the compleat angler BTW..
    Thanks

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  4. Excellent fly. Has served me well on the Usk. In the Compleat Angler after the Black fly is the Yellow Mayfly can you tell me if there is an SBS on the yellow mayfly. I have stood in the Usk and the hatch of yellow mays are an unbelievable sight.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The forum has an SBS here:

      http://www.flyforums.co.uk/fly-tying-patterns-step-step/32763-yellow-may.html

      BUT...

      Before you go to a lot of trouble. Did you ever see any of those Yellow May Duns being eaten? I have heard of it but have never seen it.

      It got a mention in this blogpost:

      http://dryflyexpert.blogspot.com/2011/05/colours.html


      Regular Rod

      Delete
  5. Do Ostrich feathers have a substitute for this fly? I am just starting and have spent a LOT of money and do not have them in abundance. Where do you get your ostrich feathers anyway? Thanks for great educational posts!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Not sure if my post went trough.
    Thanks for sharing this great fly.
    Where do you get your ostrich feathers?
    Do they have any substitute for this fly?

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In the scheme of things ostrich herl is not expensive, probably because of ostrich farming for their meat (and feathers).

      I got mine years ago, (it lasts such a long time) from either Tom Saville's or Phil White when he owned Lathkill. Lathkill still gets very good reports from anglers on the fora.

      £1.80 for a piece that will make you a lot of flies.

      http://www.lathkill.com/shop/index.php?productID=3948

      I wouldn't use a substitute as the herl works so well.

      Regular Rod

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