Welcome to Just Old Flies

Welcome to 'just old flies,' a section of methods and flies that used-to-be. These flies were tied with the only materials available. Long before the advent of 'modern' tying materials, they were created and improved upon at a far slower pace than todays modern counterparts; limited by materials available and the tiers imagination.

Once long gone, there existed a 'fraternity' of anglers who felt an obligation to use only the 'standard' patterns of the day. We hope to bring a bit of nostalgia to these pages and to you. And sometimes what you find here will not always be about fishing. Perhaps you will enjoy them. Perhaps you will fish the flies. Perhaps . . .

Part One hundred-six

Greenwell's Glory

Greenwell's Glory

Compiled by Deanna Birkholm

"Canon William Greenwell, of Durham, England, is responsible for this fly, suggestive of a Dark Winged Olive or a glorified Blue Dun. It has been said that "when the natural blue dun is on the water the trout will usually take a Greenwell's Glory."

Mr. R. L. Marston, editor of the Fishing Gazette, of London, England, has a letter directed to his father, R.B. Marson, from the Canon, giving the original dressing. I quote that letter:

Dear Mr. Martson: - I gather from your letter that you want the correct dressing of the Greenwell (salmon fly) and Greenwell's Glory (trout fly.) The Glory: the wings, inside of a blackbird wing; body, red and black hackle; tied with yellow silk. I do not remember the dressing of the Greenwell salmon fly, nor have I a specimen by me. You can get the proper dressing from Mr. Wright, fly-dresser, Sprouston, Kelso.

"It may interest you to know that at the age of ninety-two and a half I have killed 100 trout weighing 117 3/4 lb.

Yours sincerely,
W. Greenwell."

"An empty creel was responsible for Greenwell's Glory. The Conon, coming in fishless one day, brought with him a dun on which the trout had been feeding heavily. James Wright, of Sprouston . . .immediately tied an imitation, which was so successful for the Canon the next day that a celebration was arranged in Wright's shop. There were present the famous Kerss brothers - James and Charles; Brown, the angling schoolmaster of the village, and members of the Wright family. Mr. Wright suggested the name of Greenwell's Glory and it was so christened in Kelso whiskey.

As far as can be ascertained, this happened in 1854, Canon Greenwell, born in 1821, died in 1918."

The Greenwell's Glory is the favorite fly of Elizabeth Greig, renowned fly tier and capable angler of New York, commented:

"My hobby is fishing and my favorite fly is the Greenwell's Glory, both wet and dry. I have done quite a bit of talking about the Greenwell, as it is not used very much here. It should be tied the original way - primrose or olive waxed silk body, gold wire rib, coch-y-bondhu hackle, water hen or coot wing. I have found the Greenwell the best all around fly."
A Courtney Williams, in his Trout Flies, says that "The Cannon's own dressing of his fly is as follows: blackbird wing, coch-y-bondhu hackle tied with yellow silk. In a letter to a correspondent, he said, "Gold thread can be added if wished".

"E.M. Tod, author of Wet Fly Fishing Treated Methodically gives this picturesque version of the tying:

"Coat: inside of a starling or woodcock's wing. Waistcoat: yellow tying silk waxed to give it a yellow and slightly dingy hue, ribbed with fine gold wires. Trousers, (legs): coch-y-bondu hackle with tips yellow or pale golden and the part near the "pen" of the feather quite black."

Quoted section from Fly Patterns and Their Origins, published by Westshore Publications, Color photo from Forgotten Flies. We appreciate use permission!

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