Hair wing blue charm ?

billy fish

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632D287B-068B-4687-8BCE-6256B7FC42AD.jpeg

with a lighter blue as advised.
 

Richardgw

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Technically I think it’s a Hairy Mary - a hair winged Blue Charm. Blue Charm being the feather winged fly.

Any way it looks good I would happily put it on my leader as on one of these (hair winged version) I caught my first fly caught salmon on the upper Severn over 40 years ago.
 

Saint Andrews

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Technically I think it’s a Hairy Mary - a hair winged Blue Charm. Blue Charm being the feather winged fly.

Any way it looks good I would happily put it on my leader as on one of these (hair winged version) I caught my first fly caught salmon on the upper Severn over 40 years ago.

Absolutely correct, a hair wing version of blue charm is a hairy Mary but what does it matter? It doesnt except in name. Cracking fly that will catch fish!
 

jimmythefish

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That’s the very fly that’s working great on our water or very similar,I noticed a lot of the young guns on the water take fish in those 7 cm rapala colors,blue+white or the black +gold,so that fly would be on those colors and can see a fish coming across the pool for that.👍.Looks brilliant Colin.
 

charlieH

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Technically I think it’s a Hairy Mary - a hair winged Blue Charm. Blue Charm being the feather winged fly.

Any way it looks good I would happily put it on my leader as on one of these (hair winged version) I caught my first fly caught salmon on the upper Severn over 40 years ago.

Absolutely correct, a hair wing version of blue charm is a hairy Mary but what does it matter? It doesnt except in name. Cracking fly that will catch fish!


I'm afraid I disagree.

I think there's a whole family of related flies, and - as with most families - the members share some characteristics with some members, and others with others. The Blue Charm is arguably the granddaddy, and is certainly over a century old (it appears in Pryce-Tannatt's book, published in 1914). As has been said it originally had a feather wing - bronze mallard with slips of teal over. It also has a silver rib.

I think the Hairy Mary was one of the first hairwing flies to have originated on this side of the Atlantic, dating back to the 1950s. It has a gold rib to the black body, and I believe the wing was originally deer hair, though it is more commonly tied with brown squirrel tail, especially in the smaller sizes. Either way, the wing should be reddish-brown, with more of a rusty hue than bronze mallard.

The hairwing Blue Charm is usually tied with natural grey squirrel tail - and I suppose that the brownish base, black bar and white tips of that hair brings to mind the mallard/teal combination of the original featherwing, though the overall impression is of a somewhat paler fly than either the featherwing or its Hairy Mary cousin. Like the original, it should have a silver rib.

Like Richardgw, I caught my first (and second) salmon on a fly very similar to the one in the OP, though mine didn't have jungle cock and the rib was silver. In my family that pattern was commonly known as a Hairy Stoat, because it looked like the product of a union between a Hairy Mary and a Stoat's Tail (it's effectively a Stoat's Tail with the hackle of a Hairy Mary). However, that's certainly not its official name. I have seen it called a Thunder Stoat (though to me that's a Stoat's Tail with an orange hackle, rather than blue), and one old gillie I knew used to call it a Sweep. In fact the original Sweep is again an old featherwing fly, with a black wing and hackle and blue cheeks - so, although this is very similar to a hairwing version, if you want to be really strict, the blue is in slightly the wrong position. But in the absence of any other definitive name, I guess it's pretty close to a hairwing Sweep.

Does any of this matter? In the past I've had some criticism from certain members here for pointing out inaccuracies in dressings, and perhaps they see this sort of thing as nitpicking. And these are all nice flies which, though they have somewhat fallen out of fashion, will certainly still catch fish. But as is so often said, there's more to fishing than catching fish, and the history surrounding the sport and its development is an interesting subject in its own right - and, of course, that encompasses the tackle we use. There are some people who can give you chapter and verse on the many versions of the Hardy Perfect reel for example, including details of the precise design of the check mechanism, whether the handles are black or white, fat or thin, and so on. To others they're just reels, whose job is to hold the line and not much more. Each to their own.

To me, the history and development of flies is an interesting subject, and for example when Ross MacDonald was involved with this forum I remember some interesting discussions with him about the details and history of patterns, and he now clearly makes an effort to research and get this sort of thing right in his T&S columns. The Crathie is a good example. To many people it's a simple hairwing fly, with a silver body, blue hackle and black wing. On the other hand, its inventor Tom Saville is very precise about exactly how the fly should be tied, including the correct shade of blue and the length and profile of the dressing. I think he would say that many so-called Crathies are nothing of the sort, even though on the face of it the materials conform to the written dressing. If someone is that precise about how what is, after all, their pattern, should be tied, I think that should be respected. So I'll continue to believe that flies should be named and tied accurately, and variants should be acknowledged. If some people consider that nitpicking, it's water of this particular duck's back!
 
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minitube

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To me, the history and development of flies is an interesting subject, and for example when Ross MacDonald was involved with this forum I remember some interesting discussions with him about the details and history of patterns, and he now clearly makes an effort to research and get this sort of thing right in his T&S columns. The Crathie is a good example. To many people it's a simple hairwing fly, with a silver body, blue hackle and black wing. On the other hand, its inventor Tom Saville is very precise about exactly how the fly should be tied, including the correct shade of blue and the length and profile of the dressing. I think he would say that many so-called Crathies are nothing of the sort, even though on the face of it the materials conform to the written dressing. If someone is that precise about what is, after all, their pattern, should be tied, I think that should be respected. So I'll continue to believe that flies should be named and tied accurately, and variants should be acknowledged. If some people consider that nitpicking, it's water of this particular duck's back!

Absolutely. Agree totally. Too much of that type of thing happens too casually. To be fair though the title of the thread by the original poster has a question mark.
 

Jockiescott

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I'm afraid I disagree.

I think there's a whole family of related flies, and - as with most families - the members share some characteristics with some members, and others with others. The Blue Charm is arguable the granddaddy, and is certainly over a century old (it appears in Pryce-Tannatt's book, published in 1914). As has been said it originally had a feather wing - bronze mallard with slips of teal over. It also has a silver rib.

I think the Hairy Mary was one of the first hairwing flies to have originated on this side of the Atlantic, dating back to the 1950s. It has a gold rib to the black body, and I believe the wing was originally deer hair, though it is more commonly tied with brown squirrel tail, especially in the smaller sizes. Either way, the wing should be reddish-brown, with more of a rusty hue than bronze mallard.

The hairwing Blue Charm is usually tied with natural grey squirrel tail - and I suppose that the brownish base, black bar and white tips of that hair brings to mind the mallard/teal combination of the original featherwing, though the overall impression is of a somewhat paler fly than either the featherwing or its Hairy Mary cousin. Like the original, it should have a silver rib.

Like Richardgw, I caught my first (and second) salmon on a fly very similar to the one in the OP, though mine though that didn't have jungle cock and the rib was silver. In my family that pattern was commonly known as a Hairy Stoat, because it looked like the product of a union between a Hairy Mary and a Stoat's Tail (it's effectively a Stoat's Tail with the hackle of a Hairy Mary). However, that's certainly not its official name. I have seen it called a Thunder Stoat (though to me that's a Stoat's Tail with an orange hackle, rather than blue), and one old gillie I knew used to call it a Sweep. In fact the original Sweep is again an old featherwing fly, with a black wing and hackle and blue cheeks - so, although this is very similar to a hairwing version, if you want to be really strict, the blue is in slightly the wrong position. But in the absence of any other definitive name, I guess it's pretty close to a hairwing Sweep.

Does any of this matter? In the past I've had some criticism from certain members here for pointing out inaccuracies in dressings, and perhaps they see this sort of thing as nitpicking. And these are all nice flies which, though they have somewhat fallen out of fashion, will certainly still catch fish. But as is so often said, there's more to fishing than catching fish, and the history surrounding the sport and its development is an interesting subject in its own right - and, of course, that encompasses the tackle we use. There are some people who can give you chapter and verse on the many versions of the Hardy Perfect reel for example, including details of the precise design of the check mechanism, whether the handles are black or white, fat or thin, and so on. To others they're just reels, whose job is to hold the line and not much more. Each to their own.

To me, the history and development of flies is an interesting subject, and for example when Ross MacDonald was involved with this forum I remember some interesting discussions with him about the details and history of patterns, and he now clearly makes an effort to research and get this sort of thing right in his T&S columns. The Crathie is a good example. To many people it's a simple hairwing fly, with a silver body, blue hackle and black wing. On the other hand, its inventor Tom Saville is very precise about exactly how the fly should be tied, including the correct shade of blue and the length and profile of the dressing. I think he would say that many so-called Crathies are nothing of the sort, even though on the face of it the materials conform to the written dressing. If someone is that precise about what is, after all, their pattern, should be tied, I think that should be respected. So I'll continue to believe that flies should be named and tied accurately, and variants should be acknowledged. If some people consider that nitpicking, it's water of this particular duck's back!

I enjoyed that CharlieH. 🙂

I am envious of your knowledge of patterns and who their originators were. It is one of my fears in modern day tying that people just tie something and the origins of the fly and person who created them is not important. It does sadden me a bit. To most people, it simply isn't important.

I am not knocking billy fish here at all. It is just that CharlieH commented on his thread.

I'm just a geek who finds the story behind a fly more interesting than the flies themselves much of the time. 😊
 

charlieH

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Absolutely. Agree totally. Too much of that type of thing happens too casually. To be fair though the title of the thread by the original poster has a question mark.

Which I hope means that he considers it a subject that's open to discussion, and won't take my comments as criticism - which they're not intended to be!
 

SalmoNewf

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The Blue Charm certainly originated well back into the 1800’s and as described above, silver tip, golden yellow floss, GP topping for a tail, black floss body, silver rib, pale blue throat and wing of bronze mallard with slips of teal over. Interestingly, Kelson included it in “The Salmon Fly” but without the yellow floss butt, using claret floss for the body, darker blue throat and adding Berlin wool as a butt and at the head. I saw a photo of one about 25 years ago, liked it and been (poorly) tying and using it ever since as I’ve had great success with it.
A496DFA9-DF44-4A79-A91F-2165D37880AB.jpeg


Here in Newfoundland the hair wing Blue Charm is typically tied with a very sparse wing of moose hair and is probably the most used fly in the province. Like many, my first salmon were taken on that fly and I still carry a few along with the claret bodied version.
 

billy fish

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It’s great to see the discussion over this fly . And you are right over the question mark , it was put there for a purpose . I personally don’t like to see the “ bastardisation “ of these old patterns and even the new ones .
But what is the “bible” of dressings ? Even the old masters had their own versions of some of the classic flys .
If someone can post what may be considered the correct version of the hair wing blue charm I will gladly copy it .
Colin.
 

charlieH

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It’s great to see the discussion over this fly . And you are right over the question mark , it was put there for a purpose . I personally don’t like to see the “ bastardisation “ of these old patterns and even the new ones .
But what is the “bible” of dressings ? Even the old masters had their own versions of some of the classic flys .
If someone can post what may be considered the correct version of the hair wing blue charm I will gladly copy it .
Colin.

I was rather hoping that someone else would pick this up, but since nobody has done so far I'll have a go.

It's difficult to say what is the bible of dressings, particularly when you're talking about older patterns. I've always regarded Pryce-Tannatt as my bible, for classic flies at least, but others might make a case for other authors - including, no doubt, Kelson - though, as SalmoNewf illustrates, they don't always agree with each other (I've not seen a claret-bodied Blue Charm before, and I have to say that I think Kelson is out on his own there!).

There are undoubtedly experts in particular fields of fly tying, and one I'd single out is Robert 'minitube' Gillespie, who I think is something of an authority on Irish shrimps. I know he has contributed a good deal of his knowledge to books, but no doubt there is plenty more that he could say on the subject.

But these days there are many fewer books published than used to be the case, so arguably magazines such as T&S or FF&FT might be considered as the nearest thing to bibles. As I said above, I applaud Ross MacD for the trouble he takes in trying to record the history and tyings of patterns accurately and in detail for his columns. But perhaps magazines will in turn be superseded by information posted online - though, in the era of 'fake news' and when anyone can set themselves up as an authority without much scrutiny, it seems to me that it will become even more difficult to sift the truth from the falsehoods, and the accurate from the sloppy.

And even well-known authors can get things wrong. Arthur Oglesby, for example, got the spelling of the Frances wrong in one of his books, and called it a Francis, although the origin and naming of the fly is quite well recorded. So whenever (and it's all too frequently) I see it written as 'Francis', I mentally blame him! Similarly, as I've mentioned before, Stuart Foxall got the name of Mark Melville's Lightning Bolt wrong in T&S, so there are now people going around thinking that that fly is called the Thunder Bolt (he also gave the dressing with the wrong coloured tinsel - the original was holo gold, and the holo silver version is a variant). In 100 years time (assuming there are still salmon to be fished for), our successors might be having a similar conversation to this; if so maybe someone will reference the T&S article, and that will be held up as the authentic tying - and indeed its name. As I say, I think that's a shame.

Of course, even quite recently invented flies are subject to a process of alteration; I've seen a couple of well-placed people comment on how, in a relatively short time, the Pot-Bellied Pig (which was also originally brought to public attention in T&S, incidentally) has changed quite significantly from the original fly. And Jock Royan's original Kinermony Killer has been almost entirely superseded by the Flamethrower-style variant designed by Duncan Egan. As it happens, in that case I like the Flamethrower version much better than the original, but it would seem a pity if the original dressings of the PBP and the KK were buried altogether by their variants. To be clear, I'm definitely not suggesting that people shouldn't innovate and make their own riffs on other people's flies - after all, most of the time that's how new patterns develop. But at the same time let's try not to lose sight of the origins and history that lie behind those developments, and have respect for the originators.

Turning to the specific question of the Blue Charm, the question arises whether, since the hairwing version is in itself a variant of a (disputed) featherwing pattern, one can realistically say that any particular version is the authentic tying! I've checked Pryce-Tannatt's dressing for the featherwing, which includes a silver tip and yellow tag, as well as an ostrich herl butt. He also specifies a deep blue hackle, and the wing is mottled brown turkey (rather than bronze mallard, as I stated above) with teal slips over. These days we are less inclined to include some of the more minor embellishments in our tyings, and it seems to me that one of the principles behind hairwing versions of old classics is simplification. I confess that I really can't be bothered to include butts in flies that are intended for fishing, as I struggle to see what they bring to the party. On the other hand, a tag does often help in getting the tail to sit nicely, and I know there are one or two people here who are rather partial to a brightly coloured 'erse'!

So, accepting that other people may have different opinions on it, here's my version of a hairwing Blue Charm.

Blue Charm.jpg
 

Jockiescott

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The altering of 'patterns' has been going on probably as long as tying has been happening.

I can't remember exactly where I read it, it might have been Malone’s book or E.C. Heaney's , where he stated that even though he tried to give the proper dressing for the flies in the book, the wings could all be tied in the Irish fashion of mallard over strands of tippet or simplified even further with brown hair. Heaney's writings are from the 1940's.

I've probably softened my views in recent years. I used to be completely pedantic about patterns and using the correct materials. So much so that I never even attempted the Faughan Shrimp, shown in O'Reilly's book, as I didn't have a burnt orange hackle for the middle. It is only quite recently that I made my first attempt at the pattern.

The words 'variant' and 'based on' cover a lot of sins for me now. Mainly because I'm guilty of them myself. ☺️ I don't tie a Willy Gunn Cascade, I tie a longtail in Willy Gunn colours. In my own mind, I think I've covered myself. Not that I'm saying everyone else should do the same. Not everyone is as weird as me. Thankfully!!! 🙂
 

iainmortimer

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I think the discussion highlights perfectly the difficulty of accurately naming each and every pattern, its variants and its original designer for often it can't simply be internet searched for the same reason as the T&S examples mentioned above. When I set the TOTM theme for February that again came to light as it seemed impossible to identify which mention of the 'original' Beauly Snow Fly really was the first 'final' version of original which seemed to have extensively tweaked from very early in its life!
 

billy fish

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Thanks for the well explained answers to my questions. I think as long as we put something such as variants in there somewhere we cover ourselves, I think.
Some of the classic flys have to be tied with substitute materials because the original materials are unavailable or illegal to have in your possession. This always seems to be mentioned by the classic tiers . In fact they seem to insist on it which is commendable.
 

gwelsher

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I was rather hoping that someone else would pick this up, but since nobody has done so far I'll have a go.

So, accepting that other people may have different opinions on it, here's my version of a hairwing Blue Charm.

You had already expressed my thoughts Charlie. I am strict as to following the original dressing for a fly where I know it. No additions or changes unless you call it a Variant, Based On or something similar to denote it is not the original, I put (V) after my variants.
One of the problems is that even our reference books sometimes get it wrong.
Already it is becoming difficult to find the original dressings of a lot of modernish flies as they have been butchered so much without explanation. And with the growth of Fly Influencers on the internet it is only going to get worse :p
God save me from yet another rehash of a Willie Gunn, Cascade etc without a rename o_O

I know what you mean about the Crathie, Archie has given me the stare when the fly is not low and sleek, and god forbid a tail.

Your BC would be my interpretation of the hairwing (y)
 

iainmortimer

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You had already expressed my thoughts Charlie. I am strict as to following the original dressing for a fly where I know it. No additions or changes unless you call it a Variant, Based On or something similar to denote it is not the original, I put (V) after my variants.
One of the problems is that even our reference books sometimes get it wrong.
Already it is becoming difficult to find the original dressings of a lot of modernish flies as they have been butchered so much without explanation. And with the growth of Fly Influencers on the internet it is only going to get worse :p
God save me from yet another rehash of a Willie Gunn, Cascade etc without a rename o_O

I know what you mean about the Crathie, Archie has given me the stare when the fly is not low and sleek, and god forbid a tail.

Your BC would be my interpretation of the hairwing (y)
Do you have a photo of a ‘proper’ Crathie because it’s a fly I like but am never sure which photos are true of the original!
 

gwelsher

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That's the way I was told to tie it. Low and sleek.
Tom also liked his variants. I know he experimented with GloBrite #14 yarn as the hackle.
There is also a variant which is the same dressing but tied on a gold hook.
 
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