November 30, 2007
- 14 - 18 Medium/light wetlfy
- Orange 8/0 or 6/0
- Formed with tying thread
- Woodcock lower marginal covet
- Fine peacock herl
The Winter Brown is a traditional North Country pattern. It is an impressionistic pattern fished successfully during hatches of small stonefly which some texts claim it is meant to represent. Traditionally fished for trout and grayling the Winter Brown will work for species like roach, rudd and dace in Europe. This impressionistic pattern may also represent other aquatic life including in the spring time, the young alvae that hide at the river bed.
How to fish:
Traditionally fished ‘upstream and across’ like the other spider patterns, or on the swing, and dead drift. The fly can be fished on its own or as part of a team.
Toggle sequence Left/Right Handed ↔
1. Lightly wax the thread first. Then start the thread one and a half hook eye width behind the eye.
2. Take the thread in close touching turns to just before the bend and then return the thread to a couple of wraps behind the start of the thread base. My thread here is 8/0 and took a second layer to achieve a suitable thickness in the body.
3. Select a lower marginal covert feather from a woodcock wing. These fathers are found at the ‘elbow’ at the underside of the leading edge of the wing.
4. The feather will look more or less like this (with concaved side of the feather facing away from you).
5. Remove the barbs from one side of the feather. When prepared this way the hackle will curve slightly backwards.
6. You want the feather barbs to be about the length of the hook. When tied in at the start of the body they will reach slightly beyond the bend.
7. Catch in the prepared feather by the tip, either between the barbs or wrapping over the stem and the base of the barbs of the tip section of the feather – this can help avoid the feather snapping as it is wrapped in step 10.
8. Cut away as much of the waste end of the feather as you can.
9. Notice here I’ve taken the thread a couple wraps back toward the bend because the hackle will be wrapped in front of the thread before taking the thread throught the hackle in stage 14.
10. Wrap the hackle forward using hackle pliers. Make one or two wraps.
11. Wind the thread forward through the hackle…
12…. and secure the waste with a couple extra thread wraps at the front. Let the thread bobbin hang.
13. Now tie in one or two fine peacock herls by their tips. I’m using one here. If the herl’s tip looks especially delicate I deliberately snap it off before tying in – that way I’m sure of tying in a strong section of herl.
14. Touch in the thread base with a drop of head cement.
15. Wind a head of herl taking the wraps right up to the hook eye. You’re aiming to hide the whip finish. Cut away the waste material.
16. Make a two or three wrap whip finish. I use a hand whip finish because it helps me keep the thread in tension and helps stop the herl from unraveling.
17. Use a couple of tiny drops of head cement. I brace my hand for this by placing my little finger (pinky to you US readers) on the vice.
18. Use a pinch action to bed the whip finish into the herl head. You’ll end up with something like this.
The Winter Brown amongst other patterns of the North Country School is first described in the work of T.E. Pritt, North Country Flies.
Pritt is explicit about the covert feather for the hackle being from the underside of the woodcock wing. These are lighter that the upper coverts that are used for another pattern called the Little Winter Brown. That pattern omits the herl head and has a sparsely dubbed hare's ear body.
North Country Flies, 1886, Thomas Evan Pritt.
Brook and River Trouting, 1916, Harfield H Edmonds and Norman N Lee.
Fly Fishing: The North Country Tradition, 1994, Leslie Magee.