Fly Of The Week
Copper and Partridge
Copper and Partridge
George E. Emanuel
Photos by the Author

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Copper and Partridge

"Goodness gracious, someone pinch me, George has tied a "traditional" fly ?"

Well, yeah, I have finally decided that you traditional guys should be given a shot here in one of my contributions to the "Fly of the Week."

After all, you have persevered through many of my, shall we say, un-orthodox ties over the last couple of years.

Besides, I have a traditional side too. I also like to catch fish. And this very simple tie is a sure ticket to fish catching nirvana.

Like many "soft hackle" flies, it's beauty lies in it's absolute simplicity. It is composed of only two materials, plus a few wraps of thread, and a little dab or two of glue.

This fly should be somewhat easy for tiers of all abilities, but take care, for to tie it well requires a certain amount of precision and attention to detail.

I came across this pattern in a book entitled Flies for Fish and Fisherman by Helen Shaw, (published by Stackpole Books, P.O. Box 1831, Harrisburg, Pa. 17105.) I include this information as this is a great book for any serious wet fly fisherman. The book begins with the very basics of employing various materials, and builds on each one in a progression of difficulty which is easily executed with a bit of patience. For example her first chapter, or "Fly Form" as she calls them, deals with peacock herl as the primary ingredient. Progressing from the simplest of flies she takes this material up through wings, tails, throats, overwinging and etc. She also gives the materials list to tie about 42 flies in this one material. She also covers quill, tinsel, chenille and other body materials in a like fashion, as well as how to select wing slips, tie them in, and all of the other operations necessary to tie some very productive, and beautiful patterns.

So much for the commercial for the book. If you don't have it, you should! Enough said.


Hook:  Mustad 3906B size 8 to 16 (or other wet fly hook).

Thread:  Orange or Yellow 8/0.

Body:  Fine Copper Wire.

Hackle:  Partridge (brown shown).

Tying Steps:

1. Begin by laying a base of thread on your hook from the eye to the barb. I have specified and use 8/0 thread on this fly as you can get more wraps with the same bulk as a heavier thread with fewer wraps. I firmly believe that many wraps are stronger than a few. If you are afraid of the 8/0 thread, fall back to 6/0. Do not try to tie this fly especially in the smaller sizes with 3/0, it is just too heavy.

2. Lay your copper wire on top of the hook and tie in from the rear to the front, and then to the rear and back again..

3. Carefully lay each wrap of the copper wire directly against the adjacent wrap as you wrap the wire forward to a point about 1/8" or a tad more behind the eye. Cut the copper wire and tie it down.

4. Select a Partridge feather, or Grouse if you prefer, and carefully stroke the feathers toward the butt while holding the feather by the tip.

5. Tie in the feather by the tip with the natural curvature of the feather facing toward the rear. The tie in point is the "v" formed where you stroked the feather rearward from the tip, and the tip itself.

6. Wind the feather around the hook shank 2 or 3 turns, placing the quill of the feather against itself on each turn, but do not overlap them.

7. Tie down the butt at the eye, and cut off the waste.

8. Tie a nice neat head, tie off the thread and cut it.

9. Using "Daves Fleximent" apply glue to the head of your fly, and let it dry. After the first coat of cement has dried, use "Black Canyon Flies" or other head cement to give your head a high gloss finish.

Copper and Partridge


"Daves Fleximent" is extremely tenacious stuff for gluing things together permanently, but, it just leaves you with a dull head, no matter how many coats you apply.

Hence, the need for the first cement for strength, and the second head cement for gloss. If you aren't concerned with the glossy look of your head, just use the Fleximent and forget it. I really do not think the fish know the difference to be honest with you. But, your companions expect to see nice shiny heads and we don't want to disappoint them now, do we? That's it. The Copper and Partridge. Tie it brown, or natural.

The wire is obviously very durable, and if glued properly the thread and hackle will also be strong enough to catch many, many fish before the fly is retired.

Good luck, and let me know what you catch with it. I love success stories.~ George E. Emanuel (Chat Room Host Muddler)

For more great flies, check out: Beginning Fly Tying and Intermediate Fly Tying.

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