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Editor 06-21-2011 04:28 AM

The Bigger They Are, The Ardea They Fall!
This is a dedicated thread for discussing article: The Bigger They Are, The Ardea They Fall!

I thought you might enjoy this article from the UK Fish&Fly site looking at the usefulness of Grey Heron in fly tying - a hard material to get in Britain these days as it is a protected species.

oldguide 03-02-2016 07:51 AM

Re: The Bigger They Are, The Ardea They Fall!
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Ever since I had acquired my first full season ticket back in 1979, I pick up every single feather of grey heron I could find while fishing our rivers. Similarly to Great Britain, here in Germany the grey heron is, or better say, was protected. More on this at the end of this story.
In the beginning I was wearing these feathers on my hat. First, because I did not have to carry them this way, later on, because they gave a nice touch.
Only many years later did I discover these feathers for fly fishing and fly tying. The fly I am using this feather for regularly now is called a Rhodani Dun. This pattern was published in the German fly fishing magazine Der Fliegenfischer, Issue 79, in the beginning of the 1970s. First I used doubled up tying thread for ribbing this sensitive material. Now I am using a more classic ribbing material, Gudebrod or Gossamer silk.

This fly had caught one of my largest fish on a dry fly, a 22 in. rainbow. It has caught fish for me in the Deutsche Traun, Weisse Traun, Gmundner Traun, and the Gacka, among others.

Today, here in Bavaria, it is allowed to shoot the grey heron in the immediate vivinity (200 m) of fish farms or trout hatcheries from September 16 to October 31 after application for a special permission to shoot for prevention of damage to endagered fish species (e.g. the grayling) or commercial damage. So if you know a trout farmer or a hunter associated with such an operation, you may aquire material from a grey heron.
My constant collecting of shed feathers for almost 40 years has given me more than two lifetime supplies of material; usually you use two fibers on a #18 Rhodani dun, maybe three for a #16.
And I just can reassure the good fish catching ability of the grey heron feather.

Wolfgang Erl

Bigfly 03-02-2016 12:28 PM

Re: The Bigger They Are, The Ardea They Fall!
Nice fly and fish.....
But here it is illegal not only to take, but even possess.....those pretty feathers.
Otherwise we probably wouldn't have any left.....

oldguide 03-03-2016 05:38 AM

Re: The Bigger They Are, The Ardea They Fall!

it was exactly the same here just about 20 years ago. the grey heron was a rare sight. but due to complete protection, the population first grew and then almost exploded. usually, the hard winters we had some 20 to 30 years ago held the population low, because many of these birds die during a hard winter, when all the lakes and smaller ponds are frozen over. but the last 5 winters in a row we did not have solid ice here for more than just a few days on any lake, which made the populations explode, and in some areas with lots of fish farms, these birds can be a problem. of course, if I see one on our lakes or rivers, it makes me happy, almost as much as seeing a kingfisher, but for a trout farmer this may be different.

what about shed feathers?
even as a studied biologist I am not good enough a bird man to know if it would be possible to tell for an expert to distinguish between a pulled and a shed feather. but I can image this should be possible, because the shedding of feathers is a natural process causing the base of the feather to die before the feahter is lost. this should be possible to determine.

anyway, I think it is not allowed to sell or buy such feathers here, but who should mind to pick up a lost one ...


Bigfly 03-04-2016 10:48 AM

Re: The Bigger They Are, The Ardea They Fall!
I agree they are beautiful and make my day when I see them.
Kinda figure if they lose their feathers....they didn't really need them, right?
Most Wardens wouldn't know if a fly is tied with those feathers.
But since it's trouble here...... I wouldn't advertise too much about my stash.....


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