The Durham Ranger
The Durham Ranger The Durham Ranger is another classic that has seen more that one recipe in its lifetime. Mr. William Henderson, from the town of Durham in the Northern part of England, most likely invented the Durham Ranger in the mid nineteenth century. Mr. Henderson probably had the Parson in mind when he tied the first Durham Ranger. The Durham Ranger and the Parson were most likely designed to imitate butterflies and both do a pretty good job at it. There are even differences in who tied the first Durham Ranger. George M. Kelson believed it was James Wright who designed the Durham ranger but is was more likely Mr. Henderson who deserves the credit for the Durham Ranger.

The most popular version of the Durham ranger comes from Francis Francis in his classic book, A book on Angling (1867). Other authors of that era wrote of the Durham Ranger. George M. Kelson wrote of it in his book, The Salmon Fly (1895) as did Sir Herbert Maxwell in his book, Salmon and Seatrout (1898). Each author presents a slightly different pattern and all will be discussed later on.

As mentioned above it is widely held that the original version of the Durham Ranger was probably designed by Mr. Henderson. We will begin with his dressing as found in A Book on Angling and compare it to the others that came after.

Tag:    Silver twist and gold floss.
Tail:    One topping.
Butt:    Two turns of black ostrich herl.
Body:    Equal parts of light orange floss, dark orange claret pig's wool followed by black pig's wool.
Ribs:    Silver twist and silver tinsel.
Hackle:    Over the wool only a red-coch-y-bondhu hackle.
Throat:    Two turns of black hackle followed by light blue hackle.
Wings:    A pair of long jungle cock feathers back to back with double tippets on both sides. Outer tippets reaching to the first dark band of the inner tippets with a topping over all.
Cheeks:    Kingfisher.
Horns:    Blue macaw.
Head:    Black.

George M. Kelson describes a version of the Durham Ranger in his book, The Salmon Fly which differs considerably from Mr. Henderson's original pattern. It differs from the original version in that it uses silver twist and yellow silk in the tag and adds an indian crow feather to the tail. Kelson's body is quite different still. His body consists of two turns of orange floss followed by two turns of orange seal's fur followed by black seal's fur for the rest of the body. The rig is silver lace and silver tinsel instead of the silver twist and silver tinsel found in Mr. Henderson's original pattern. Kelson's version calls for a throat of only light blue hackle and not light blue over black hackle and in the original pattern. For the cheeks Kelson's pattern calls for chatterer instead of the kingfisher in Mr. Henderson's pattern and he finishes off the fly with a head of black Berlin wool. Mr. Kelson's pattern follows.

Tag:    Silver twist and yellow floss.
Tail:    One topping with indian crow over.
Butt:    Two turns of black ostrich herl.
Body:    Two turns of orange floss, Two turns of orange seal's fur followed by black seal's fur.
Ribs:    Silver lace and silver tinsel.
Hackle:    Over the wool only a red-coch-y-bondhu hackle.
Throat:    Light blue hackle.
Wings:    A pair of long jungle cock feathers back to back with double tippets on both sides. Outer tippets reaching to the first dark band of the inner tippets with a topping over all.
Cheeks:    Chatterer.
Horns:    Blue macaw.
Head:    Black Berlin Wool.

Dr. Pryce-Tannatt descries another version of the Durham Ranger. In his version Dr. Pryce-Tannatt uses a tag of silver tinsel only and as in Kelson's version he prefers an indian crow over the tail. His body is made up of equal parts of lemon yellow silk followed by orange, fiery brown and black seal's fur. The fly is hackled with yellow died badger hackle from the seal's fur only. Just as Kelson did Dr. Pryce-Tannatt uses chatterer for the cheeks. Dr. Pryce-Tannatt's version of the Durham Ranger follows.

Tag:    Silver tinsel.
Tail:    One topping with indian crow over.
Butt:    Two turns of black ostrich herl.
Body:    Equal parts of lemon yellow silk, orange, fiery brown and black seal's fur.
Ribs:    Silver twist and silver tinsel.
Hackle:    Over the wool only a yellow dyed badger hackle.
Throat:    Two turns of black hackle followed by light blue hackle.
Wings:    A pair of long jungle cock feathers back to back with double tippets on both sides. Outer tippets reaching to the first dark band of the inner tippets with a topping over all.
Cheeks:    Chatterer.
Horns:    Blue macaw.
Head:    Black.

There is still another version of the Durham Ranger and this one comes from Sir Herbert Maxwell in his book, Salmon and Seatrout. Sir Maxwell's body is made up of one-fifth orange floss silk followed by equal parts of orange, claret and black pig's wool ribbed with oval silver tinsel and hackled with and orange dyed coch-y-bondhu hackle. Sir Maxwell's version of the Durham Ranger follows.

Tag:    Silver twist and gold floss.
Tail:    One topping.
Butt:    Two turns of black ostrich herl.
Body:    One-fifth orange floss silk followed with equal parts of orange, claret, and black pigs wool.
Ribs:    Oval silver tinsel.
Hackle:    Over the wool only a an orange dyed coch-y-bondhu hackle.
Throat:    Two turns of black hackle followed by light blue hackle.
Wings:    A pair of long jungle cock feathers back to back with double tippets on both sides. Outer tippets reaching to the first dark band of the inner tippets with a topping over all.
Cheeks:    Kingfisher.
Horns:    Blue macaw.
Head:    Black.

The Durham Ranger has spawned many versions over the years, some of which are classics in themselves. The Durham ranger was without question the first of the ranger series of flies, which include the Black, Blue, Red and Silver ranger. All are variations of the original Durham Ranger. Today many modern tiers add another touch to the Ranger series of flies by adding another pair of jungle cock feathers as sides.

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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