T E Pritt's Grannon or Greentail

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Re: T E Pritt's Grannon or Greentail

Post by letumgo » Mon Nov 19, 2018 1:13 pm

What a great thread! Imitative fly patterns, insect illustrations, and history.

I really enjoy multi layered threads like this. Thank you all, for contributing.
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Re: T E Pritt's Grannon or Greentail

Post by Greenwell » Mon Nov 19, 2018 9:00 pm

Phil,

What edition of Ronalds did you use for the photos? I have the 1st and 4th eds and your pics are a bit different then the same flies in mine. Of course there is a lot of variation in hand colored plates. The discrepancies I see are in the shape of the hook and the egg sack on the artificial. Both of these features look elongated in your photos. It's also possible I'm seeing camera distortion which may very well be the cause of the differences. The individuality of hand colored plates is a great part of their attraction to collectors.

Ronalds himself did the coloring of, I believe, the first four editions. After his move to Australia the coloring was done by the publishers. At that time, books were printed and bound but the coloring was often done only after a book was ordered from the publisher, or in Ronalds (and Blacker's) case, from the author. Almost every copy of Blacker's book, "Fly Making, Angling, and Dying" is unique because of this. A customer could order extra colored plates or even a book with no colored plates at all!

Ronalds' "Fly Fisher's Entomology" is indeed a very important work as well as a very beautiful one.

John
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Re: T E Pritt's Grannon or Greentail

Post by PhilA » Mon Nov 19, 2018 10:49 pm

John,
My book is elderly, but it is not ancient! It is a 10th edition, published by Longman's in 1901. My understanding is also that Ronalds hand colored only the 1st (1836) through 4th (1849) editions. My 10th edition was, I believe, the last of the Longman's editions containing hand-colored plates.

Did Ronalds hand color all copies of the 1st through 4th edition? Or, only a subset of them? Pritt, for example, hand colored 50 of the 250 copies of his 1st edition Yorkshire Trout Flies. His plates show considerable book-to-book variation of individual flies due at least in part to the multiple artists involved. I own one of the 200 artist-colored copies and admire it greatly.

Cheers,
Phil
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Re: T E Pritt's Grannon or Greentail

Post by DOUGSDEN » Tue Nov 20, 2018 6:09 am

Guys,
This thread is amazing and I really enjoy reading the different responses to questions posed! Thank you for sharing all this info. as it helps me greatly in better understanding our sport in general and especially the earlier works as you have mentioned above!
Fascinated with every sentence,
Dougsden
Fish when you can, not when you should! Anything short of this is just a disaster.
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Re: T E Pritt's Grannon or Greentail

Post by PhilA » Tue Nov 20, 2018 11:12 am

A few other tidbits about Alfred Ronalds...

Ronalds' beautiful fly plates showing images (colored engravings in his pre-photography case) side-by-side with an appropriate imitation became a standard for quality fly tying books that persists today.

Ronalds understood the physics of refraction and reflection at an air-water boundary, and he was the first to describe a trout's "window" (Snell's circle) at the surface. The window limits what a trout can see above the surface.

Ronalds built an observation blind above a river to observe trout behavior. He discharged shotguns above feeding trout and established that trout are oblivious to sounds made above the surface.

Ronalds doctored baits and artificial flies with all manner of strange ingredients and established that trout have excellent discrimination of edible vs. inedible based on appearance, but little or no discrimination based on taste.
Last edited by PhilA on Tue Nov 20, 2018 2:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: T E Pritt's Grannon or Greentail

Post by ForumGhillie » Tue Nov 20, 2018 11:52 am

If you're digital savvy you can get the Kindle version of The Fly-Fisher's Entomology on Amazon for just $0.99.

https://www.amazon.com/fly-fishers-repr ... B00H6WS818

Or, read it for free...

https://archive.org/details/flyfisherse ... ch/page/n7

John
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Re: T E Pritt's Grannon or Greentail

Post by Greenwell » Tue Nov 20, 2018 9:25 pm

I can't be sure but I do believe that I read somewhere that Ronalds, and his family, colored the first four editions of the book. Ronalds wrote and sold the book as a source of income. I've seen most editions of Ronalds and the majority are quite nicely colored, with of course, the variations that would have crept in due to changes in pigments, skill of the artist, etc. The first edition was published in 1836 and the last hand colored edition, the beautiful 11th, appeared in 1913, thus spanning 80 years of publication. The Deluxe edition of 1913 has a second volume of flies tied to the patterns in the book. I have seen several of these and the binding and presentation are wonderful. To me though the flies are a bit disappointing as they are tied on rather coarse eyed hooks and look to have been dressed without the care and sensitivity that could have been taken and which was owed to such a work. The first edition not to have hand colored plates, the 1921, is just plain ugly.

The quality of the plates in Ronalds was never surpassed and, at least in my opinion, the only work that even approaches them for delicacy, detail, and beauty is Mosley's "Dry Fly Fisherman's Entomology" in 1920. Mosley's illustrations of insects, he didn't show imitations, almost flutter off the pages.

Pritt on the other hand was a banker and fairly comfortable. His book was more of a vanity publication and if the work of coloring the plates was too much for him he could afford to have it done elsewhere. I've owned several Pritts and the coloring showed a lot of variation from book to book. Both "Yorkshire" and North Country" Flies were sold by subscription and were gone very quickly, as was his "Book of the Grayling" in both the standard and large paper editions. The illustrations in that book, while not hand colored but chromolithographs, are absolutely stunning.

Some of the other 19th century hand colored books of real interest to Spider tiers and anglers are John Jackson's "Practical Fly Fisher," Henry Wade's "Rod Fishing in Clear Waters," and Hewitt Wheatley's "The Rod and Line." The Wheatly has particularly nice plates and shows beetles tied on eyed hooks, and in 1849 no less!

In the US, Preston Jennings' "A Book of Trout Flies," 1935, gets my vote for the best American book with hand colored plates, especially the plate of the Hendrickson dun and spinner. The illustration of the book and coloring of all the plates was done by by Alma Froderstrom. The covers of the book are also strikingly beautiful, especially the last few that were bound in a blue rather than green cloth.

(Some of the early salmon books are very beautiful but I don't have much interest in salmon books.)
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Re: T E Pritt's Grannon or Greentail

Post by ForumGhillie » Tue Nov 20, 2018 10:12 pm

Here is Mosley's book... https://archive.org/details/dryflyfishe ... ch/page/n7

Jackson's book... https://archive.org/details/practicalfl ... og/page/n4

Wheatley's book... https://archive.org/details/rodlineorpr ... ea/page/n9

I re-read Jennings' book (not online) almost every Winter. A great book.

John
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Re: T E Pritt's Grannom or Greentail

Post by PhilA » Wed Nov 21, 2018 11:12 am

John,
Thank you for your insights about these wonderful books.

Concerning Wheatley's eyed hooks, editions of The Compleat Angler as early as 1760 have illustrations of Green Drakes and Dun Cuts tied on eyed hooks. My understanding is that the rise of eyed hooks in the late 1800s resulted from advances in manufacturing (not design), especially by H.S. Hall.

Phil
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Re: T E Pritt's Grannon or Greentail

Post by Greenwell » Wed Nov 21, 2018 6:41 pm

Phil,

I am much more of the belief, or speculation, that the eyed hook didn't gain popularity earlier on not because of a lack of technology in their manufacture, but rather because of the use of horsehair "casts," i.e. leaders. Horsehair was the line, leader, and tippet material of choice and availability for the majority of fly fishing history.

Until drawn silkworm gut became common in the later part of the 19th century, horsehair was what trout anglers used and it did have several advantages over silkworm gut (don't you just hate it when people refer to it as "catgut" which is an entirely different material?). Horsehair was available in longer lengths, was finer in diameter than un-drawn gut, had fairly high tensile strength, and lasted longer than gut. Also, gut was expensive while horsehair could be found in your barn out back. It's almost as if my Subaru was growing me spools of copolymer tippet material out in the garage! As late as 1924 W.K. Rollo was advocating "good white horsehair" for his "points," (tippets) as being superior to gut.

Gut had a couple of other problems, the first being that it had to be soaked in water before it could be used and the second that it had a relatively short short shelf and working life. Anglers were advised to throw out any gut more than a season old. Consequently, flies tied directly to guy suffered the same problems; who would want to throw out otherwise perfectly good flies because the gut they were attached to had lost its strength? I believe this is one of the reasons that we find so many beautiful old flies tied to gut even today, they simply never got used because their owners didn't trust the strength of the gut they were tied to if the flies were a couple seasons old. This must have been great for commercial fly dressers! Horsehair, on the other hand, would last almost indefinitely and there are stories of anglers fishing with flies tied to hair decades after they had been dressed, something that one could never do with gut.

With horsehair, the big problem is that if one tries to knot it to a hook, especially a small eyed hook, it just doesn't want to work. About the only knot that horsehair will stand is an overhand knot whereas well soaked gut is easily, neatly and securely knotted. The eyed hook, while known for centuries, just didn't work with horsehair.

When the dry fly came along the two things that actually made its existence possible were the fine wire eyed hook and drawn silkworm gut leaders and tippets; each complimented the other. Eventually all fly anglers gravitated towards the eyed hook as being both more convenient and more versatile than the old blind hook and horsehair point and eventually the snelled fly became part of history.
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