Partridge & Orange - step-by-step
The Partridge & Orange is a very old pattern that’s still as good a fish-getter today as it was when it was first developed. No one knows who should actually be credited with developing this fly, but it’s first mentioned in T. E. Pritt’s book: Yorkshire Trout Flies and North Country Flies, dated 1865. Most people believe that it imitates a nymph, a pupa or an emerger in the water. It’s tied thin, with a short body and a hackle that is more vertical than swept back. It’s thought that the sparse hackle represents legs and/or antennae and you can get a lot of action from this fly if you match the hackle material to the speed of the water that you’re going to be fishing; softer for stillwaters and stiffer for swiftwaters.
There are lots of ways to tie up this pattern and I hope that everyone will feel free to describe and maybe post pics their version of this venerable fly.
So, here we go:
1. Here are the materials that you’ll need. It’s not a complex pattern from a materials standpoint; essentially, a hook, tying thread and a hackle (the gold rib is optional, but I tie them that way because I like body segmentation in wet fly patterns). I used a Daiichi 1550 hook; #14. I also used Pearsall’s tying silk, because it changes color when it’s wet and becomes more orange/brown than brown. Joni did a post on using threads that turn translucent in the water about a year ago. It makes a good point about how material can look in the water vs. how it looks on the vise. You can use either a gray mottled or a brown mottled Partridge hackle. I used a gray one, because I like the striations better on the gray hackle.
2. Wind on your tying thread and take 6-8 wraps toward the bend (try to use butt wraps; wraps that are butted right up against each other; it will make your body easier to form).
3. Next tie in some fine gold wire on the underside of the hook and continue the butt wraps towards the bend; to a point just past the hook point. [Note: the P&O pattern has a shot body, so you don’t want to go all the way down to the bend with your thread.] This gold rib is an optional step; it was not part of the pattern originally described in Pritt’s book.
4. Now wind the thread back up the hook towards the eye; to the point where you tied in the gold wire (or not; depending on whether you’re using a rib or not). You want to be sure to use butt wraps in this step, so that you can end up with a thin, smooth body. Cut the gold wire waste end off (the one sticking out to the right, if you’re a right-handed tyer).
5. Next, if you’re using a gold rib, then wind it diagonally up the body to the point where you tied in the gold wire in step 3. About 4 winds should do it.
6. Now you want to form a thorax. This can add some lifelike detail to your fly and it also serves as a brace to help support the hackle. I’m using tying thread to form the thorax. But, many people use a dubbed thorax on this pattern and if you’re one of those, then go ahead and use it. Many people also feel that the dubbed thorax gives the pattern a buggier look; I’m one of them. Cut off the rib waste end either before or after you form the thorax.
7. Now it’s time to hackle the fly. I selected a gray Partridge hackle from the back area of a Partridge skin. [Note: if you’re going to be tying several of these patterns, then I recommend that you purchase a Partridge skin; they’re not very expensive and most fly shops, as well as the online fly tying suppliers, have them on hand.] Strip the fuzz from the base of the feather, leaving the barbs that you want to form your hackle.
8. Next, select the barbs that you want to form your hackle and gently pull them down the stem; away from the tip. [Note: Most tyers will use barbs that are the same length as the distance from the eye to the hook point. I over-hackle almost everything, because I think that the action in the water is better that way, but it’s strictly a personal choice.] You’ll note that this leaves you with an upside down triangular shape at the tip of the hackle. This is sometimes referred to as an “anchor”. Its use is to anchor the hackle to the hook when you tie it in, so that you can pull on it fairly had during the hackling process; without it pulling out.
9. Now, cut the anchor short and taper the tip so that the anchor looks more like a diamond.
10. Time to mount the hackle on the hook. You want to tie the hackle in by the anchor, right up against the forward part of the thorax. Everyone has a different way to do this. The majority of people will tell you to tie in the hackle so that the shiny side of the feather is pointing up and facing you. I do it differently. Since I’m going to be winding the hackle around the hook on its side; I tie it in on its side.
Here’s another picture of the tied-in hackle; taken more from the top of the hook:
11. Cut off the exposed tip of the anchor, then take one or two wraps of hackle around the hook; making sure that the first wrap is up against the front of the thorax and that the next wrap is butted up against the first one. This is the most difficult step on this pattern. You want a sparse hackle so that the action in the water is maximized. Tie off the hackle with 3-4 butt wraps towards the eye.
12. Cut off the hackle stem close to the thread that you used to bind it down.
13. Finally, finish the head with either a series of half hitches or a whip finish. You can put head cement on at this point, but if you used a whip finish, you shouldn’t need it. Here’s a pic of the finished fly:
And another one; a little more head-on:
And that’s it! You’ve just tied up the Partridge & Orange.
This fly is also seen commonly with a green body or a pale yellow body; appropriately named the Partridge and Green and the Partridge and Yellow, respectively.
This is a great fly and I hope that you have fun tying it and fishing it!
Go ahead and get started on this one; I’ll post the second pattern; the Woolly Bugger, next weekend.