The Black Dog
The Black Dog The Black Dog is another Classic Salmon Fly that has changed over time. In "The Driffield Angler", which was published in 1808, Mackintosh lists the dressing for many Classic Salmon Flies. This publication holds the earliest mention of a pattern called the Black Dog. Following is Mackintosh's version of the Black Dog. Following you will find other versions of one of the oldest Classic Salmon Flies tied today. Study them and tie them and make up your own mind as to which one you like best. All are trully Classic Salmon Flies in their own right.


Wings:    Bluish feather from a heron's wing intermixt with spotted reddish ones of a turkey's tail.
Body:    Lead-coloured pig's wool from under the ear; ribbed small gold twist.
Throat and Hackle:    Large black cock's hackle.
Head:    Dark green mohair spun on dark green silk.

Over the years the Black Dog must have undergone a serries of changes before it was mentioned again in Francis Francis' "A Book On Angling" published in 1867. One feature that was changed dramaticly was the wing and its components. One feature that did not change was the use of the black cock's hackle.structure and compostion of the wing. Parts of Francis' version of the Black Dog that remain today are the black hackle, the black silk body, and the wrappings of tinsel on each side of the floss rib. These parts seem to have stood the test of time and can almost always be found on Black Dogs tied today. With that said some tiers of today have changed the red silk to yellow. The dressing given at the time of Francis' first edition of "A Book On Angling" follows.

Tag:    Silver tinsel.
Tail:    Topping.
Butt:    Black Ostrich herl.
Body:    Black silk ribbed with silver, red silk and gold twist side by side.
Hackle:    A black one all the way up the body.
Throat:    Very long fibered claret hackle.
Wing:    Mixed, with an underwing of gold pheasant ruff with slices of wood duck over, and over that mixed fibers of gold pheasant tail, bustard, dyed swan scarlet, yellow and orange, speckled peacock and some peacock herls, blue and red macaw, with one big topping over all.

In 1895 George M. Kelson makes mention of the Black Dog in his classic, "The Salmon Fly". It is this pattern that is the one most tied by today's dressers. George M. Kelson wrote that the Black Dog was one of his fathers, G. Kelson's, favorite patterns. Following is Kelson's version of the Black Dog.

Tag:    Silver twist and canary silk.
Tail:    A topping and Ibis.
Butt:    Black herl.
Body:    Black silk.
Ribs:    Yellow silk, and silver tinsel (oval) running on each side of it.
Hackle:    Black heron from the third turn of the yellow rib.
Wings:    Two red-orange hackles (back to back) enveloped by two Jungle; unbarred summerduck; light Bustard, Amherst Pheasant, Swan dyed scarlet and yellow and two toppings.

Another writer that mentions the Black Dog was Sir Herbert Maxwell. Sir Maxwell refers to his rendition of the Black Dog as a "modern version of a very pattern for the Tay". Maxwell's description of the fly removes some of the more dominant black found in earlerly dressings and uses lighter colors that were favored by tiers of his day. Maxwell states the the tail can be replaced with a small bundle of orange mohair and the butt should be made of chenille rather than the traditional ostrich herl. Maxwell uses broader silver tinsel in his ribbing along with the gold twist and red silk as mentioned in Francis' version of the fly. In the wing Maxwell omits the blue macaw fibers and ties in sections of woodduck over the peacock herl. Maxwell also uses crimson dyed swan instead of claret and the the head on his version like many other is made of black chenille. Following is Maxwell's versfion of the Black Dog.

Tag:    Silver tinsel.
Tail:    Small bundle of orange mohair.
Butt:    Black chenille.
Body:    Black silk ribbed with broad silver tinsel, ruby red silk and gold twist side by side.
Hackle:    A black one all the way up the body.
Throat:    Very long fibered claret hackle.
Wing:    Mixed, with an underwing of gold pheasant ruff with slices of wood duck over, and over that mixed fibers of gold pheasant tail, bustard, dyed swan crimson, yellow and orange, speckled peacock and some peacock herls, woodduck, red macaw, with one big topping over all.
Head:    Black chenille.

It would be interesting to see these patterns side by side to see the evolution tying the Black Dog has undergone over the past two hundred years. Maybe sone day someone will do just that and share their creations with us on The Classics.

As you can see even the masters of old tied flies with the same name in many different ways and who are we to say which way is best. They all can be called Classics in their own right.

As you can see even the masters of old tied flies with the same name in many different ways and who are we to say which way is best. They all can be called Classics in their own right.


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