Friday, April 27, 2012

The Fly That Started It All

The Orange Partridge
If you are a frequent visitor to my blog or just happened to stumble upon it, one thing becomes abundantly clear...I have "a thing" for sakasa kebari.  As one peruses through these pages, they will find this site littered with sakasa kebari of all sorts (and contrary to popular belief I can tie all manner of flies).  The truth is, they were not my first love...that is strictly speaking fishing flies of course.  The flies I first became enamored with were the North Country Spiders and soft-hackled flies.  When I began fly fishing three years ago I began my search for the flies I would use before I even purchased a rod.  After reading several books (specifically, Sylvester Neme's books) and searching the net I found some flies that would fit the bill for being a cinch to tie for a beginner, not cost an arm and a leg to make, and be effective.  North Country soft-hackles, such as the Partridge & Orange (or Orange Partridge, as listed in T.E. Pritt's 1886 book North Country Flies) met all of those criteria.  I also have a "thing" for the rich tradition of fly fishing literature and history.  The P&O goes back a long long way ( another reason to use can you argue with such longevity?).  The P&O is a simple yet elegant fly.  It is a versatile fly and can be used to represent a number of aquatic insects from hatching nymphs to emergers to caddis pupa.  There are a number of variations that are tied with or without a gold rib and/or  hare's ear dubbing for a thorax (the one pictured above is tied as described in Pritt's book).  Which ever way it's works.  The only drawback I could find to these flies was that they needed to be fished in relatively fast water to give life to the hackle and that sometimes the hackle would collapse along the hook shank, negating the advantage some of the advantages. That is when I discovered the sakasa kebari, a fly with the versatility, effectiveness and a history as long as the P&O.  The main advantage of a SK over a P&O lies in the direction of hackle.  A forward facing hackle allows the fly to be manipulated by the angler in various ways to impart the illusion of life and not have to rely solely on the current.  And they are just as easy to tie as any classic North country Spider.  Now, SK's make up the majority of my fly box and flies that I fish.  I really love SK's but deep down there will always be a soft spot in my heart for for the P&O and it's brethren.


  1. I have yet to tie up a SK. What type of feathers do you use? Sounds like it is the bees knees ;) Thanks for sharing. Tight Lines.

  2. Trout MaGee..A SK is easy to tie up. You can use lots of types of feathers.I personally prefer a soft hackle like Hungarian partridge in natural or dyed brown colors. Another favorite is starling when I want smaller or smoky/iridescent feathers. If you want to see how to tie one check out any of the three sites,, and Try them, you won't be disappointed.

  3. Most times there is elegance in simplicity.
    I can attest to this patterns effectiveness.
    Nice tie Kiwi.

  4. Kiwi- I love that fly- so simple to tie, and brookies and rainbows really tear into them. Sometimes it's those simple patterns that work best.

  5. Brk Trt...Thanks, it's a classic like many of your ties. It will always be one of my favorites.

    F.R....Simple does work best. Maybe that's why it's been around for hundreds of years.