When Colonel Carey migrated from
England to British Columbia, some say, seeking the perfect trout
fly, a grail of sorts, did he bring a box of North Country
spiders with him? Did he bring requisite materials from the Isle of Tradition? Perhaps
we’ll never know. What we do know is, his ultimate expression, the Monkey-Faced
Louise (eventually the Carey Special) may be the largest sized North Country spider of all time, the original built
entirely of the indigenous materials Carey found in B.C.
When we first arrived beside the Columbia River in NE Washington in the early 1970’s (fairly close to the B.C. lake country where Colonel Carey sought his grail), we were a young family, an hour’s drive from town, building a homestead, raising livestock, operating a reforestation business, & there was very little in the budget for fly tying materials save for essentials like thread, hooks & wire. Yet I lacked for nothing, the homestead, neighborhood (& neighbors), my wife’s knitting & sewing baskets, providing a mind-spaghettiing array of supplies. Moose, elk, deer, bear, raccoon, skunk, coyote, muskrat, beaver, lovely pine squirrels, rabbit, turkey, pheasant, waterfowl of all kinds, starling, suicidal (window banger) songbirds of many useful types, ruffed grouse, & of course domestic chickens, all you wanted – the list of critters the river, woods & roads provided is too long to print here.
Material combinations were only limited by imagination.
And I had my books, among them, Leisenring, Brooks, Skues & some of the earlier British writers, & these were both inspirational & informative, teaching methods & mixes of materials to create flies that were rarely seen in 1970’s Western fly boxes. These old books & methods were actually freeing. So I tied my flies of native materials & the native trout of my home water enjoyed & appreciated them. I think of those days as my indigenous (nativist) period, & my trouting game has never been better than it was in those times.
Of all the materials available, ruffed grouse was & is my favorite. For usefulness, I’d give it equal billing with ringneck pheasant. Tail, wings & every part of the ruffed grouse’s anatomy provides feathers useful to the soft-hackler. The Allgrouse is a pattern I started tying in the 70’s that I still consider one of the most killing in my box. I tie these with brown phase & gray phase ruffed grouse, resulting in two versions, an overall brown, & a gray version. Together, in sizes #12 to #16, these will cover a lot of mayfly species.
|Gray & brown phase ruffed grouse tail feathers|
Thread: primrose yellow Pearsall’s Gossamer Silk
Hackle: ruffed grouse body feather or wing shoulder covert
Tailing: 3 ruffed grouse tail fibers
Abdomen: ruffed grouse tail fibers twisted with a single strand of pearl krystal flash & the tag of the tying silk (original was without krystal flash & reverse wound with fine wire)
Thorax: ruffed grouse tail fibers taken from the bronze band near the tip of the tail feather