Salmon fly of the month

Trout & Salmon (UK) - - Contents - Ross Mac­don­ald ties a fly with an Amer­i­can ac­cent ROSS MAC­DON­ALD is a well-known fly de­signer and tyer who has a life­long pas­sion for salmon flies and the sto­ries be­hind them. He is based in Aberdeen. Visit: mac­don­ald Visit­niard.c

Ross Mac­don­ald ties the Cosse­boom Spe­cial

NORTH AMER­I­CAN hair­wing pat­terns took off to such an ex­tent in the early 20th cen­tury that I think it’s fair to re­gard At­lantic North Amer­ica as the spir­i­tual home of the hair­wing style. In the UK we were still pre­dom­i­nately us­ing feather wings – the Garry Dog was our most no­table early hair­wing but it wasn’t un­til the 1940s that the Hairy Mary made its mark and in­spired the cre­ation of stan­dards such as the Tosh, Munro Killer and Stoat. To my knowl­edge, the two best-known Amer­i­can pat­terns are the Rat and Cosse­boom. They have been in con­tin­u­ous use for the best part of a cen­tury. To have been so pop­u­lar for so long sug­gests they have some­thing about them. The Cosse­boom has a dis­tinc­tive look with a squir­rel wing and wound hackle in front. To me, the style is recog­nis­ably North Amer­i­can, very dif­fer­ent in ap­pear­ance to Bri­tish styles, which favour a beard hackle. John C. Cosse­boom was born in Woonsocket, Rhode Is­land in 1885 and died around 1935. He was highly re­garded as an an­gler, caster and poet. He first tied a Cosse­boom as a buck­tail streamer on Nova Sco­tia’s Mar­ga­ree River in 1922, but his first hair­wing, the Cosse­boom Spe­cial, was tied in 1923. Cosse­booms are now used ex­ten­sively on great North Amer­i­can rivers such as the Miri­amichi, Res­tigouche and Hum­ber. The flies have spread to Ice­land, in­tro­duced by Amer­i­can and Cana­dian an­glers, but are less com­mon on these isles. It is gen­er­ally ac­cepted that there are six orig­i­nal dress­ings in the Cosse­boom se­ries, although fly-ty­ers con­tin­u­ally dream up new ver­sions. In ad­di­tion to the Cosse­boom Spe­cial pic­tured here, there is the Gold Cosse­boom with its gold tin­sel body and blue hackle, and the Or­ange, Red and Black ver­sions – same dress­ing, only the body colour changes. The ex­cep­tion is the Yel­low Cosse­boom, which has a griz­zly hackle. A red head is a must, some­thing that John C. in­sisted upon in the early days. It’s a fa­mil­iar topic among fly-ty­ers and an­glers, some of whom have a neu­rotic com­mit­ment to the de­tails of the fly, while oth­ers are more re­laxed about such things, claim­ing the fish doesn’t care about our fevered at­tempts to out­wit them. I like a red head – not al­ways, but more of­ten than not. I pre­fer to use red thread and clear var­nish be­cause on more than one oc­ca­sion my red var­nish has leached into the wing or hackle. Cosse­booms are sim­ple to dress and have a short list of in­gre­di­ents. I think they are great flies for novice ty­ers, es­pe­cially when try­ing to per­fect the wound hackle.

Tag Flat sil­ver Tail Green floss Rib Sil­ver tin­sel Body Green floss Wing Grey squir­rel Hackle Yel­low cock Head Red thread

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