Monday 27 April 2015

JW's Fly Box - Echoes of the Past

All my small items of tackle spend the off season in the Great Fishing Chest (GFC) at the top of the stairs.  I took out all my salmon gear in late March: once it's stowed in the car boxes and wading jacket it remains there until the end of the season.  Last week thoughts of spring prompted me to go into the GFC to out-load the trout gear into my tackle vest.  Even after these two exercises there's still all manner of stuff in there, which in turn conceals other stuff, which over time gets forgotten.

After I'd got all the trout kit from its appointed places, in an idle moment I poked around in the depths of the far left bottom corner.  Lurking there under a pile of spare salmon lines was one of my grandfather's salmon fly boxes.  To be precise, a Hardy 'Neroda' bakelite box in 'Oxblood' shade.  This first appeared in their catalogue in 1934, so this box is probably of pre-war vintage.  The wear suggests that this had been a favourite.  It had lain undisturbed in that corner of the GFC since I inherited it on my father's death in 1992.

The contents were an echo of times past.  The flies are all tied on single hooks, the largest of which are around 4/0 long shank.  Several have gut eyes, whipped onto the spade-ended shanks and concealed by the dressing.  These are clearly visible in the photos below.  Some have clearly been used.  JW fished in Scotland and Ireland; and on the Tees, Wear, Ure, Axe, Exe and Torridge in England.  I haven't seen flies hooked and dressed like this for over 50 years, and am unable to recognise the patterns.

If you recognise any of those patterns, please let me know via the Comment tab.

JW in the 1950s
Salmon from the Axe or Exe
Hardy glass rod, Alcock multiplier
My grandfather, perennially known as 'JW', but addressed as 'Sir', was a most remarkable man.  He was born at Askrigg beside the Ure (I can see it from High Thoresby); half of his siblings died in an influenza epidemic in the 1880s; at age 3 his father, the village policeman, was murdered on duty; at 12 he walked the 60 miles to Hartlepool to get a job as the boy clerk in a 2-man start-up business; and at 35 he was managing director of the large company it had become.  Although he spent his later years living in Devon, he remained a Yorkshireman to his core.  Salmon fishing remained his greatest joy until he suffered a stroke spring fishing on the Exe at the age of 82.  Sadly he fell backwards onto the bank to survive into a lingering death, rather than forwards into the water to be carried away as he would have wished.  I think he would be gratified by my preoccupation with his favoured sport.

A Blackthorn Winter

We are currently undergoing a phenomenon known locally as a Blackthorn Winter, in that the blackthorn is flowering beautifully, but it still feels like winter - cool, windy and very, very dry - and most plants are running late.  Last night we had 3 degrees of frost.  We are almost at the end of April, and we've had 2 showers amounting to 4mm of rain against an average of 55mm.  This follows March 18/50mm and February 14/70mm.  Despite my exceptional  efforts - washing the car, watering the vegetable patch - there's no sign of substantial rain.  The garden is as dry as a bone and the rivers are exceptionally low for the time of year.  The springers can't get up nor the kelts down.  There isn't even enough water to exercise the Vision MAG 13 footer I've got on trial.  As a result I'll have no salmon fishing to write about until all together you deliver a truly effective rain dance......please.

Blackthorn Winter
Very low, very clear, very bright, 10C
River Rye
27th April 2015

1 comment:

  1. The first may be a Mar Lodge, the third a Jock Scott, the fourth a Brown Turkey or Claret and Yellow and the sixth a well worn Hairwing Blue Charm.
    You might find the following links of interest if there are others to identify:
    I've only just found these links myself when I was checking out my hunches as to what the flies were.
    Keep up the good work.