I finished up my flies for the Wet Fly Swap today (Leadwing Coachman pattern) and having a little time on my hands, decided to extend the leadwing concept (lead-colored duck wing) to some of the other patterns that have used this wing in the past.
The first is a Royal Coachman, probably the most recognized of all flies. According to one online source, this pattern, which is derived from the Leadwing Coachman, came into being in the following way:
The creator of the fly was John Haily of New York City who tied it in 1878. Haily was a fly-tier and one of the first dealers of fly tying material in the United States. The story of this fly is introduced in a book written by Harold Smedley, "Fly Patterns and Their Origins" (1943). A letter from Charles Orvis to Fred Mather in 1885 states:
Dear Sir... The Royal Coachman was first offered to purchasers by me. It did not, however, originate with me... The fly-tier I mentioned long ago sent me a sample...saying "I have just been tying some flies to order for a gentleman, and he says he likes the Coachman better than any other fly, but he finds it very frail, and he wants me to tie some with red silk in the middle, to make them stronger, and also he wants a little sprig of wood duck for a jib (tail). I send you a fly to see. I think it quite handsome"... The enclosed fly had a white wing, brown hackle, a peacock body bound in the center with red silk, and a tail of wood duck feather with black and white bars... One evening a number of us were gathered around a table looking at the flies. My family, Mr. Horace T. Dunn of California, and Mr. L.C. Orvis (younger brother of Charles) of Hartford, Conn., were present discussing the propriety of every fly having a name, numbers giving them little or no individuality... I said "But what is one to do, I do not propose to name flies." "Why not" said they, "if the fly is not named, it will never be popular. No one can remember to distinguish flies by numbers; they get confused." "Well," I answered, "that may be; but look, here is this fly; a handsome fly; it is similar to a Coachman; but is not a Coachman. There is but one Coachman..." "I will tell you" exclaimed Mr.L.C.Orvis, "that is an extra fine Coachman; all that scarlet makes it quite significant - call it the Royal Coachman!" The name seemed suitable, so the fly was christened... The fly was put on the market by the Orvis company in 1878.
Here's a pic of the fly with a leadwing:
Another variation is the California Coachman which, according to another online source was designed by J. W. Fricke of San Francisco in the early 1900's and was first published in A. Courtney William's book, "Trout Flies
" in 1932. Not much different here from the Royal Coachman; just a light yellow floss body. Again, as a leadwing:
This is the original Leadwing Coachman. According to several sources, this pattern is well over 100 years old; having originally been tied by a man who served as a coachman to a nobleman in England. He apparently presented it to his lord, who aptly name it the "Coachman", after its designer. This is the one that I tied up for the swap; thought to be a good imitation of a diving caddis adult:
And for those who think that the only way to tie up a Royal Coachman wet is with white duck wings, here's one, but unfortunately the white duck that I have it not very good material (or I wasn't very good at using it -
). It's much easier to source good gray duck wings from a fresh mallard:
And by the way, one of our new members, Nikki, posted today about how cold it is in PA today. She's right - today it was 1.5 degrees F when I got up. All of the bedroom windows on our second floor were completely coated on the inside with a layer of frost! That's cold!