Rocky River Chapter Trout Unlimited
Charlotte, North Carolina
We Conserve, Protect and Sustain our
Coldwater Natural Resources
Fly of the Month 08.19
Modern fly pattern design for a beetle is often based on utilizing some type of foam material. However, there was a time when there were no foam materials available (foam was not even invented yet) and fly tyers imitated beetles with a bulky dark body of wool yarn, peacock herl, dyed black ostrich herl, or black Chenille and primarily with cock-y-bondhu feathers, then later with simply brown or black hen feathers as a hackle.
The Red Tag fly pattern is a classic example of a beetle imitation for trout and grayling from the north country of England. The Red Tag is still in use today in Australia and Tasmania as a beetle imitation. But this article is about the beetle imitation that once used the cock-y-bondhu feather in the past. Subtle colorations of chicken feathers made all the difference to our ancestral fly-fishers who believed that natures colors meant the difference in fly pattern performance. For the most part, dying chicken feathers was a practice adopted more so in the late-1800s, prior to that, natural was the in thing.
Note: The cock-y-bondhu may be found spelled many ways. We have used the spelling which appears to be the one most commonly used today.