King of the Woods
Thread: White Danville 6/0 Flymaster, black for the head.
Tip: Flat silver tinsel (Gold tinsel is shown on the plate image in Mary Orvis Marbury’s book, Favorite Flies and Their Histories, 1892).
Tail: Yellow over scarlet, married.
Ribbing: Oval silver tinsel (oval gold tinsel was used on the image in Marbury’s book).
Body: Yellow floss
Wing: Red, upper ½ wing, married to ½ each black and white. The King of the Woods image in Marbury’s book shows the wing to be married in equal thirds.
Gut: Japanese gut, 4#, made in occupied Japan.
Hook: Mustad black japanned 3370 blind eye, size #7.
The King of the Woods wet fly is not shown in Fishing with the Fly, 1883, co-authored by Charles Orvis and A. Nelson Cheney, but it is illustrated on the color plates in Mary Orvis Marbury’s book, Favorite Flies and Their Histories. There is no pattern dressing within the book’s page, so one must rely solely on the color plate image. While I have possessed a copy of Marbury’s book for many years, I got my recipe for the King of the Woods from a photograph of Adirondack wet flies on the cover of Adirondack Life Magazine, a 1987 issue. The fly in the photo sported a silver tinsel tip and ribbing, and the wider section of the red duck quill in the top half of the wing. Marbury’s book states that the King of the Woods is of unknown origin; the only comment about the pattern is that it was created to be a companion to the Queen of the Waters. I have never fished the King of the Woods, but I bet it would still take brook trout.
Also interesting: the King of the Woods tied by Paul Rossman as photographed in the Orvis chapter in Forgotten Flies has a wing of red, then bronze mallard, topping gray mallard. I do not know where that recipe variation came from. Even on the old color plate in Marbury’s book it is pretty clear that the wing is red, black, and white, though Paul did a great job marrying the bronze & gray mallard, and that version is also strikingly beautiful.