A New (Old) Approach

A couple of new approaches to my favorite mayfly design: The Fox Squirrel and Royal Coachman.

I do read a lot of older books as I work my way through the Catskill mountain winter, so perhaps those favorite authors are to blame. Dana Lamb seemed to write of casting a Fanwing Royal more than any other dry fly, and Connett and Gingrich flew that same flag, right here on Catskill waters. My online friend, Ed Ostapczuk, has penned a pair of wonderful books concerning his sixty-year love affair with the Catskill rivers, two of a small selection of recent volumes that I would recommend. As ranking Sage of the Esopus, Ed likes a Hairwing Royal Coachman when the isonychia mayflies are hatching there, much as Gingrich did.

I messaged back and forth with Ed yesterday, mentioning that I might even tie some 100-Year Coachmen for fishing, after sending him the photo of the Christmas Fly I posted here a month ago. I was pondering the proposed activities of my snowy morning when I decided that I may as well get out some red silk, peacock, and a Rusty Smoky Dun Collins cape I’m fond of and tie a few to line a compartment in June’s isonychia box. Always be prepared to show them something different!

I had to look a bit to find a suitable feather for the rolled feather wing of my 100-Year Dun style. Woodduck breast, of fanwing fame, is too short and delicate, but flipping a pair of mallard wings showed me what I needed. The fibers are shorter than those of a waterfowl flank feather, so the wing refused to fold to produce the clumped, Gordon style wing. My manipulations though, did give me a suitable wing profile. I’ll have no problem showing one of these to an isonychia connoisseur on either Beaver Kill or Delaware.

While musing about the contradiction inherent in an attractor canted wing mayfly imitation, I recalled the effectiveness of several classic general purpose flies and determined that a Fox Squirrel version of my fly would be a good addition to my fly box. There are times when hatches are sparse that a buggy, general purpose dry fly will turn the trick, just ask any of the hundreds of thousands of anglers who sing the praises of the Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear. I have always liked the looks of squirrel fur due to the variations in color and the short, spiky, barred guard hairs. For an all-around buggy early season fly, natural fox squirrel is my favorite, so I blended some with one part Squirrel Belly Antron and the barest hint of fawn colored red fox fur. A Darbee line Rusty Dun cape provided the perfect hackle to encircle the woodduck wing!

I could tie a few Fox Squirrels with the cree hackle I use for my Catskill version of the fly, though I do like the look of that rusty dun. Something to think about for tomorrow…

The snow petered out quite early but has returned with a vengeance. Perhaps we will get enough to work on that aquifer recharge I’ve been wishing for. Time for a hot mug of Starbucks Italian Roast while I consider whether a snowy riverwalk will be in my afternoon plans.


2 thoughts on “A New (Old) Approach

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