Colonel Downman’s Fancy

Colonel Downman's Fancy

Hook: Hayabusa 761 black nickel
Tail: Teal fibres
Rib: Silver tinsel
Body: Black floss
Wing: Pair of Blue Jay with Jungle Cock on each side
Throat: Black hen
Thread: Danvilles 6/0

A traditional wet fly for which more than one tying can be found in the fly fishing literature, though it is only mentioned in a few of the common 20th Century compendiums of trout flies. The oldest reference that I can find to the pattern is that given as a loch fly by Roger Woolley [1] in 1932. Roger Woolley’s book is a collection of articles first published in the Fishing Gazette in 1930 and 1931. The pattern simply says “Jay Wing”, not specifying whether it is the blue-barred feather or primary wing feather. The rest of the dressing matches that given in later dressings by John Veniard [2] in 1952, with a blue-barred jay wing (the version tied here),  and in his later book Reservoir and Lake Flies [3]. It is also the version beautifully tied by Ken Sawada [4] in his 1995 book “Wet Flies”.

Tom Stewart [5], writing first in 1964, suggests that the pattern has been subject to many variations over the years including the version with teal tail fibres and blue-barred jay wing given here. He then goes onto describe a “usual” tie as being red-dyed hackle fibres for the tail and a blue feather from the jay for the wing. Tom Stewart’s “usual tie” is the one given by Stan Headley [6] in 1997 using a pattern supplied by Davie McPhail.

As to Colonel Downman himself, there would appear to be little mention of him beyond a comment in the French magazine “Le Moucheur” by Maurice Lewkowicz who describes the pattern as having been created by a colonel of the Indian army retired in the 1930s though no citation is given as to the source of this information.


  1. Roger Woolley, Modern trout fly dressing (London: The Fishing Gazette, 1932).
  2. John Veniard, Fly Dresser’s Guide (London: A&C Black, 1952)
  3. John Veniard, Reservoir and Lake Flies (London: A&C Black, 1970)
  4. Ken Sawada, Wet flies (Tokyo: Ken Sawada, 1995)
  5. Tom Stewart, 200 popular flies and how to tie them (London: A&C Black, 1979).
  6. Stan Headley, Trout and Salmon Flies of Scotland (Ludlow: Merlin Unwin, 1997)
  7. Maurice Lewkowicz, Le Geai (Le Moucheur n°46 – Décembre 2001-Janvier 2002).

Denson’s Red Arrow Cruncher

Denson's Red Arrow Cruncher

Hook: Hayabusa 761 #12-14
Tail: Golden Pheasant tippet dyed red
Rib: Oval silver tinsel
Body: Seal’s fur: red rear, black front
Hackle: Furnace hen
Cheeks: Jungle Cock splits
Thread: Danvilles 6/0

A minor variant on Rob Denson’s ‘Red Arrow’ Cruncher. Has all the characteristics of the traditional Bibio together with the nymph qualities of the Cruncher.

Durham Ranger (Take 2)

Durham Ranger

Hook: Hayabusa 761 black nickel #10
Tag: Yellow floss
Butt: Peacock Herl
Rib: Oval gold tinsel
Body: Claret floss
Wing: Pair of tippet with Jungle Cock each side
Throat: Claret hackle fibres
Thread: Danville 6/0 black

The Durham Ranger is a well-known classic Atlantic salmon fly. This is a wet fly interpretation of the pattern from Ken Sawada’s 1995 book “Wet Flies”. Considerably simpler than the salmon pattern, it nonetheless retains a few of the characteristics of the classic. This is my second tying of this pattern, following some much appreciated advice, that has resulted in a significantly smoother floss body and the traditional 5 turns of gold rib on the body.