Snipe and Purple

This soft-hackle wet was sent to me a while back by my friend in Jarrettsville, Maryland, Bill Shuck.

I thought I’d post the photo, recipe, and a few notes here. Soft-hackles are among the most effective of wet fly patterns.

Snipe and Purple

Hook: Daiichi 1640, #14

Thread: Pearsall’s Gossamer silk #8, purple

Hackle: Snipe wing upper marginal covert

Body: Unwaxed tying thread

The use of unwaxed silk allows the body to darken when wet; this is a classic pattern, still popular today, and according to Bill, was originally designed to imitate stoneflies.

Snipe and Purple

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11 comments on “Snipe and Purple

  1. Kelly L says:

    Don, it is funny you are posting this wonderful fly here today. I love this fly. I saw it recently on a forum, and thought I am going to have to tie that fly. It seems Snipe is not easy to find. If you know of a good substitute for it, please post it here. I hear it is a great producer.

    • Hi Kelly;
      Thanks for the comment here. My friend, Truman and I, were at my cabin Thursday afternoon to yesterday, and he wanted some help tying streamers. So that’s what we did…I tied mostly tandems. We talked about you because he told me he had contacted you about one of your streamer pattens…we’ve been friend for over 30 years.
      Anyway, regarding the snipe feathers: I bet Great Feather Fly Shop in Sparks, MD, has it…a link to them is on my site. Bill lives nearby and also attended the class I did there a couple weeks ago.
      Thanks again!
      Don

  2. Bill says:

    Kelly ~ If you’re on the hunt for snipe, I suggest that you look for wings only, as they are easier to find and much less expensive. If you have no luck locating this hackle for the “Snipe & Purple”, try substituting the grey undercoverts from a mature starling wing. They don’t quite have the delicate shading of snipe, but they are a perfectly good substitute for fishing purposes.

  3. Kelly L says:

    I should of signed up for comments on this thread. I just now came across Bill’s response. Someone sent me a couple of snipe wings. I am going to tie some more Snipe and Purple, and also Snipe and Yellow. Thanks guys. It is good to know a good sub feather, because what I have in the snipe, won’t last long!

    • Don Bastian says:

      Kelly, those Snipe and whatever patterns are good flies. They will work well for you on your bluegills! 🙂 Seriously, Bill does a very nice job on his soft hackles (and other flies for that matter, so I’m glad you found this thread and that you have the material to tie some of these patterns. Thanks for your comment!

      • Kelly L says:

        Don, I already had some tied up. (of the Snipe and Purple) Last night I couldn’t stand it, so I tied some Snipe and Yellow. (well 3 for a test) I realized after the initial comment on the thread, that I know who Bill is too. (I just didn’t know what his REAL name was…lol…but I do now) Bill is indeed a great soft hackle tyer. I am glad that you have this blog thread on the Snipe and Purple. There are not that many out there. I am on a spider kick the past few days.

      • Don Bastian says:

        Hi Kelly;
        When I hear someone say “Spider,” my mind automatically goes to the dry fly patterns that were in Ray Bergman’s Trout. The Ginger Spider, Black Spider, Blue Spider, Brown Spider, etc. Because of the way that Ray enthused about those patterns, they were in my fly boxes from when I was in my teens. Caught a lot of trout on them over the years, and they really came into their own wen I was guiding in the early ’90’s. The stream I was on has a good hatch of the large size crane flies, and I dug out my Ginger Spiders. Long story short, they accounted for a good number of trout, and some really nice ones too, 17″ to 20″ fish. You don’t see them on line at all, one day I’ll have to post them and write about them too. Thanks for your comment!

      • Kelly L says:

        Don, I would love to see a blog about those patterns you just mentioned. Please mark that down on your “to do list”. It would be great to see them.
        When I think of spiders, I think of North Country traditional spiders. I also think of foam spiders with rubber legs. (remember I mainly warm water fish)

  4. Don Bastian says:

    Kelly;
    I tied up two Ginger Spiders for a fellow at the Crossroads Angling Auction & Antique Tackle Show in Budd Lake, NJ, on April 20th. He had ordered a dozen of my flies to fish with, extended body March Browns, and I know he’s a real Bergman fan. So I added two Spiders at no charge. He has never fished them at all. Hopefully he’ll be pleasantly surprised when he does. 🙂

  5. Kelly L says:

    Are you talking about the Ginger Furnace Spider? I looked up in the book Trout for the fly you were speaking of. The photo looks like a yellow body. But the recipe says gold tinsel body. I also saw a Ginger Quill fly, but I don’t think that is the one you mentioned.

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Kelly;
      I didn’t check the recipe…comes to mind that at least one of those spider patterns, all on the dry fly plates, may have a tinsel body. And remember on those plates in Trout, you ought to go more by the written recipe than the colors…because they vary with different editions. Thanks for your comment!

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