Old Master per Pritt

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tie2fish
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Old Master per Pritt

Post by tie2fish » Wed Sep 12, 2018 9:06 am

There have been at least two lovely versions of the Old Master fly pattern posted on this forum, one by Old Hat in February of 2015 and another by upstatetrout in May of 2018. During my recent efforts to establish, in so far as it is possible, the original recipes for some of the better known North Country flies, I again turned to T.E. Pritt's North Country Flies as a starting point for attempting to trace the origins of the Old Master. There, discussed as pattern No. 39 and illustrated on Plate 8, one finds the following recipe:

Hook: 1 (I have used a vintage Herter's 423 TDE in Size #14)
Wings: Hackled with a feather from the inside of a Woodcock's wing
Body: Ash-colored silk, wrapped over with Heron's herl (Pearsall's Gossamer #10 silk)

Old Master        per Pritt.JPG
Old Master per Pritt.JPG (37.59 KiB) Viewed 801 times
Now the story gets interesting. In his text Pritt attributes this fly to someone named "Bradley, of Otley", someone he implies was a contemporary of his. He also, strangely enough, states that it bears some resemblance to "Greenwell's Glory." Intrigued by these claims, I contacted Robert Smith to see what light he might shed on them and the authenticity of the pattern recipe.

Rob's reply begins as follows: "Without being too unkind to Pritt, the Old Master fly pattern is pretty much a fiction."

He explains this by telling how his exhaustive search of all the census, birth & death, and church records for Otley and was unable to find any Bradley living in the Otley area within a century of Pritt's publication. He also checked
the fly list of William Bradley of Leeds and found no mention of a pattern called Old Master. As for comparing it to the Greenwells Glory fly, any knowledgeable fly tier would find this laughable.

In short, it appears that Pritt took some liberties with this fly pattern, perhaps mixing it up with something else similar such as one of the Stone Midge patterns. As Rob explains, Pritt -- even though he published one of the most famous fly pattern books -- was not a fly dresser himself and that " ... pretty much all of the content of his book is given second and third hand." Good reason indeed to double check Pritt's attributions when searching for pattern origins.
Some of the same morons who throw their trash around in National parks also vote. That alone would explain the state of American politics. ~ John Gierach, "Still Life with Brook Trout"
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redietz
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Re: Old Master per Pritt

Post by redietz » Wed Sep 12, 2018 10:53 am

Nicely done, as usual.

As to Pritt's claim that it has has some resemble to Greenwell's Glory, I notice that both are tied on hooks.
Bob
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tie2fish
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Re: Old Master per Pritt

Post by tie2fish » Wed Sep 12, 2018 10:56 am

:roll: .... :lol: :lol: :lol:
Some of the same morons who throw their trash around in National parks also vote. That alone would explain the state of American politics. ~ John Gierach, "Still Life with Brook Trout"
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Re: Old Master per Pritt

Post by letumgo » Wed Sep 12, 2018 11:35 am

... and they both use thread and hackle... ;) :D :lol:

Excellent post Bill. Thought provoking and informative. I look forward to reading further discussion.
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Re: Old Master per Pritt

Post by daringduffer » Wed Sep 12, 2018 12:46 pm

Leslie Magee, in his book 'FLY FISHING; The North Country Tradition', writes about Old Master (B. Bradley 1870) and shows a photo of one, tied for him (Magee). It's tied using the same materials as this Shuck specimen. A couple of pages further on in the book he writes that

"The earliest known list of Yorkshire trout flies is that of William Pilling who was the cornmiller at Pool-in-Wharfdale. The list is in fine copperplate handwriting on parchment, a material in common use until the early part of this century and is unfortunately somewhat tattered, one page being un-decipherable, which is hardly to be unexpected after two centuries of handling. The names of about 12 flies cannot be deciphered even with modern library techniques. Those which can are given below;

LIST OF ARTIFICIAL FLIES FOR YE RIVER WHARFE
WILLIAM PILLING OF POOL MILL

Abraham Huddlestone gave me these flies in the year of our Lord 1794

MARCH THE OLD MASTER
APRIL BLOA FLY
GREENTAIL COMES ON NEAR END OF MONTH
PHELPER AND TEEWIT
WOOD OWL
MAY SPANISH NEEDLE
KNOTTED MIDGE
JUNE GREENDRAKE AUGUST LITTLE BLACK
YELLOWLEGS SEPTEMBER PISMIRE FLY RED
OR BLACK

RED PALMER COMES ON NOW ON WARM NIGHTS
MINNOW FISHING IS BEST IN DAYTIME
SOME TIMES YOU MAY HAVE A SALMON BUT YOU
MUST HAVE A STRONG LINE AND A FORK TO HAND

Abraham Huddlestone was the cornmiller In Arthington Mill........"

I end the quote there. This quote shows a fly named The Old Master long before 1870. It includes no description of its tying.

Robert Smith has told me previously that he has found quite a few mistakes in Leslie Magee's book which motivated him to write his own. Whether this is one of those mistakes I don't know. It is relevant for the discussion though.

As you all know, Bill Shuck is The Old Master by another name.

dd
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tie2fish
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Re: Old Master per Pritt

Post by tie2fish » Wed Sep 12, 2018 1:51 pm

Thank you, Stefan, for this additional and valuable information. Rob Smith did mention in a post on another forum in 2010 that the Old Master pattern " ... actually dates back to Pilling's list of flies for the river Wharf dated 1794", but made no mention of the materials used (recipe).

How likely is it that Magee got his information from Pritt's book? Also, does Magee say who tied the fly for him?

One more bit of interesting info: I did discover that Rob Smith sells a fly called "Old Master" tied by him. In the photo of it, the thread looks to be grey rather than ash and the herl on the body is counterwrapped with a strand of that thread. These "discrepancies" can be explained by pointing out that the Pearsall's #10 ash silk is far too scarce to be used for production tying and since these flies are expected to be used for fishing, the counterwrap is no doubt for purposes of durability.
Some of the same morons who throw their trash around in National parks also vote. That alone would explain the state of American politics. ~ John Gierach, "Still Life with Brook Trout"
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Re: Old Master per Pritt

Post by daringduffer » Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:15 pm

tie2fish wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 1:51 pm
Thank you, Stefan, for this additional and valuable information. Rob Smith did mention in a post on another forum in 2010 that the Old Master pattern " ... actually dates back to Pilling's list of flies for the river Wharf dated 1794", but made no mention of the materials used (recipe).

How likely is it that Magee got his information from Pritt's book? Also, does Magee say who tied the fly for him?
Bill, Magee just mentions the list of flies from the Pilling manuscript which is the first in the list of manuscripts in his bibliography. I suppose that was what the manuscript included.

He has colour photo plates of "THIRTY NORTH COUNTRY FLIES, used by the author and tied by Simon Ashworth".
I secured a copy of this book for Ray a couple of years ago, maybe he can bring it with him if you meet some time.
I don't know who Simon Ashworth is but I'm sure Robert Smith does. He must be contemporary with Magee.

A search found him mentioned here: https://yorkshiredalesflyfishing.blogsp ... r-fly.html

dd
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Re: Old Master per Pritt

Post by daringduffer » Wed Sep 12, 2018 4:12 pm

Regarding Simon Ashworth; from the link I posted, a statement from Stuart Minnikin
One of the regular speakers was Simon Ashworth, who is now the river keeper just up the dale at Appletreewick, Barden and Burnsall Angling Club. I always admired the flies he tied with such skill; one of the most skilled tyers I have ever watched.
dd
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Re: Old Master per Pritt

Post by William Anderson » Wed Sep 12, 2018 6:06 pm

Bill, that's an exceptional example of that fly, per usual. I know there was some very interesting take on this fly by Rob Smith at one of his presentations in Lancaster last year. I wish he were here to comment. Beyond just the sheer beauty of this fly, I can't imagine what might be added. I looked up Carl's effort on this fly too and it's just spot on as well. I remember posting a version some time ago and even though my images are once again showing up in posts, I couldn't find the thread. What a beautiful combination of materials. Slick hook too. Nice job.
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Re: Old Master per Pritt

Post by ForumGhillie » Wed Sep 12, 2018 6:24 pm

I remember posting a version some time ago and even though my images are once again showing up in posts, I couldn't find the thread.
William, is this what you were trying to find?

Image

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=1965&hilit=Old+Master#p20010
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