Monday, March 20, 2017

The partridge and orange

I had a request by one of the regular followers here to put up a video for tying the partridge and orange.  This classic north country spider was described by T. E Pritt's Yorkshire Trout flies (1895) but was probably known long before that.  All that history means that this fly has been tied many different ways over the years with lots of opinions around the silk used, the hook and it's finish, and the length of the body relative to the hook and yet it remains a very simple and effective fly even today. Rather than being a direct imitation of a specific insect, as in the English tradition of the time, this fly sits squarely in the Scottish tradition of impressionistic flies that highlight movement by the use of the softer partridge hackle.

 I've had the most success fishing a partridge and orange when tan-bodied caddis are on the water.  I also tied the partridge and green for when the green-bodied caddis hatch in late spring. There are a couple of things to keep in mind when working with Pearsall's silk.  The silk comes in tiny spools so you will need a very small bobbin to hold the silk.  The silk also doesn't react well with head cement so you will need some bee's wax or cobbler's wax to fishing off the head.  This fly is best tied sparse in my opinion.


  1. Mark
    You and Alan convinced me that the soft hackle is a worthy fly on the tailraces I fish. Great job at the vice, this is another video I will save for future use when I start tying. Thanks for sharing

  2. Hi mark, good job. I've been tying soft hackles for years but never thought of leaving the tag and twisting it, to give a very subtle segmentation. Thanks for the tip. Recently I tied some up with old Gudebrod nylon black and orange jasper thread. The orange/black jasper looks a lot like pheasant tail fibers.

    1. Thanks John. That twist is not original with me but it is a neat trick.

  3. Mark, This was a revelation. I'm new to soft hackles and have been confused by tying directions and videos. Your film amazingly shows every step from the perspective of a right handed tier. My previous attempts at spiders/soft hackles have been a mess because I wound the feather away from the hook eye. You reveal that the feather should be rotated towards the hook eye. Then it's simple to catch the stem and not crush the barbs. thanks Ted

  4. Hi,
    Thank you for the nice video.
    In it, you applied something on the thread just before whip finishing.
    What was it ?
    As my English was not rich, I could not catch what you said.
    Please let me know.

    Mikio in Japan.

  5. Mikio - with the Pearsall's silk I use bee's wax the finish the fly rather than head cement or nail polish which react with the dye in the silk

    1. Mark,
      Thank you for the reply.
      Bee's wax, I got it.
      Have a good fishing.

      The trout fishing season just began in Japan.

  6. Mark,

    Nice job on the fly and thanks for the video. I'm gathering materials to tie some of these flies and am having trouble settling on a bobbin to fit the small spools and work well with the silk. I was leaning toward one of the Renzetti Midge bobbins, but was trying to identify yours in the video. Any recommendations?