Darbee hackle

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Theroe
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Darbee hackle

Post by Theroe » Thu Dec 22, 2016 10:08 am

There is a lot of good to excellent quality hackle available today, which will tie excellent quality flies. However IMHO as far as fish catching ability, nothing comes close to some of Harrys, stock, especially the light flecked duns. There is the odd exception - see the first two photos of this post.
I have had the great fortune to be taught & mentored by one of Harrys contemporaries(who is still alive). Just two of the many things the master impressed on me are: Each river has its own particular "cast" - an overall subtle coloring common to all insects; and raising birds close to where their feathers will be used has they picks up these same coloring...sounds nuts.....but it is not. My photography skills are lacking(I am open to tips & pointers)!
The first two I found in a box of stuff on the floor of Dette Shop - a major score. I have picked through thousands of necks,(ask Collins, Kenny at Baxter House or Tom Whiting - Ive pestered the daylights out of these guys) and NEVER come up with even one like this.
Next is the Silver/Pink close up and whole pelt: this particular neck is a whole topic unto itself. The fish catching ability is legendary. Note the Coch - y bondhu soldier in there!
Picture #5 are two duns, very light flecking....lovely to work with. PS: the full pelt is marked $10 on the newspaper on back.
#6 & # 7 are full view of the Silver / Pink and a dark List.
#8 backs of the two in #6 & #7.
Lastly, half a dozen Darbee's I use day to day....sorta picked out, but lots more flies in them! I didn't realize how the pictures sequenced in the post - the last should have been first, so I had to reverse my narrative.
Does anyone else have the same experience with Harrys hackle? I am looking forward to your comments!

Dana
Attachments
Dun two closeup.jpg
Note the very fine speckles in this one..
Dun two closeup.jpg (693.08 KiB) Viewed 1418 times
Two Duns.jpg
Found these two in a "bargain box" at Dette Shop about ten years ago.
Two Duns.jpg (630 KiB) Viewed 1418 times
Darbee pink closeup.jpg
No equal to this quality - plus a few pieces of Coch-y-bondhu peeking out!
Darbee pink closeup.jpg (707.5 KiB) Viewed 1418 times
Darbee pink .jpg
Genuine "Silver/Pink" ....a fish magnet
Darbee pink .jpg (558 KiB) Viewed 1418 times
Darbee duns.jpg
Two beautiful samples.... the cape with saddle is marked $10 on the back.
Darbee duns.jpg (514.28 KiB) Viewed 1418 times
Darbee back.jpg
Trademark newspaper...note the price: $8 !
Darbee back.jpg (624.4 KiB) Viewed 1418 times
Best Darbee's.jpg
THE silver -pink, and, List
Best Darbee's.jpg (571.19 KiB) Viewed 1418 times
six Darbee.jpg
Harrys work.....this is heritage hackle.
six Darbee.jpg (643.87 KiB) Viewed 1418 times
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bearbutt
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Re: Darbee hackle

Post by bearbutt » Thu Dec 22, 2016 10:35 am

Dana,

Those are stunning capes! Flecked duns--those are like misshapen tomatoes--look awful at first glance, but somehow have their cachet if you give them a chance. I really like the term 'heritage hackle' too. I haven't had the good fortune to be able to pick through hackle like some of you guys have done--there's no decent fly fishing show in Chicago--so it takes a concerted effort to get to the flocks.

As for this:
Theroe wrote:Each river has its own particular "cast" - an overall subtle coloring common to all insects; and raising birds close to where their feathers will be used has they picks up these same coloring...sounds nuts.....but it is not.
Not nuts at all, Fran betters used to say a similar thing about the Ausable west branch--how the insects there had an orangish cast --and this is why he used orange tying thread--it's not just about the head of the fly, but how the orange tint would show through the dubbing of the body, especially with Haystacks and Wulffs and Ausable Bombers.

bb

Theroe
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Re: Darbee hackle

Post by Theroe » Thu Dec 22, 2016 11:13 am

The big Beaverkill below Junction Pool has a distinct pink cast. Here is one of the patterns I was taught by the master...


e. subvaria

Hook: Mustad 1921, size # 13
Thread: MUST be black SILK -
Underbody: tie slim, cigar shaped underbody with black silk only.
Overbody: Reed tackle condor quill, un-dyed.
Tail: 4-6 barbules of lightly flecked spade hackle from Darbee neck.
Wing: wood duck, rolled, cocked (delta style)
Hackle: Slightly oversize, from genuine Darbee Silver/pink.

When the quill and black silk get wet, the quill becomes translucent, reacts with black silk, and the body takes on a light pink hue. Sounds unbelievable, but it is 100% true. When the Hendrickson is on, I have taken dozens of fish in Cairns pool, when everyone else wasn't even getting a sniff.... I have done experiments( I always fish at least two flies) changing the flie(s) and position. The flecked Darbee hackle makes the difference - the quill & silk trick is a very good enhancement, but Ive swapped body type & hackle type - the hackle is ALWAYS the common denominator.
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Bud
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Re: Darbee hackle

Post by Bud » Thu Dec 22, 2016 6:25 pm

>>I have had the great fortune to be taught & mentored by one of Harrys contemporaries(who is still alive).<<

Wow. That'ts really interesting. I'm sure others are as curious as I am: Who would that be?

--Bud
Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. And inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.
-- Marx (Groucho)

wiFlyFisher
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Re: Darbee hackle

Post by wiFlyFisher » Thu Dec 22, 2016 8:15 pm

bearbutt wrote:Dana,
As for this:
Theroe wrote:Each river has its own particular "cast" - an overall subtle coloring common to all insects; and raising birds close to where their feathers will be used has they picks up these same coloring...sounds nuts.....but it is not.
Not nuts at all, Fran betters used to say a similar thing about the Ausable west branch--how the insects there had an orangish cast --and this is why he used orange tying thread--it's not just about the head of the fly, but how the orange tint would show through the dubbing of the body, especially with Haystacks and Wulffs and Ausable Bombers.

bb
Not just Fran, i believe the same thing about the insects found in the freestone streams in Northern Wisconsin. When i have posted various photos of mayflies from my area others have commented on they are much more orange than their mayflies. That was also why I purchased a bunch of Fran Better's dyed possum fur blend from Jan Betters a couple of years ago.

Your Darbee capes look very similar to a couple of old Hoffman capes I still have.

Thanks for posting!

Theroe
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Re: Darbee hackle

Post by Theroe » Thu Dec 22, 2016 8:40 pm

Bud
This post was part of of the "show & tell" I was supposed to do last Feb at the guild meeting - but couldn't make. As far as disclosing my mentors name - I have to ask him first..... he is a very private individual. Although his life is fly fishing and tying, he's not a publicity seeking guy - in fact quite the opposite. To each his own...
Dana
“Time to go fishing”

bearbutt
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Re: Darbee hackle

Post by bearbutt » Fri Dec 23, 2016 9:08 am

Theroe wrote: As far as disclosing my mentors name - I have to ask him first..... he is a very private individual. Although his life is fly fishing and tying, he's not a publicity seeking guy - in fact quite the opposite. To each his own...
In my book, that's OK. Some of the best tiers I have known are very private people; they don't write articles, or books, or post on Bulletin Boards like this one, or set up their vise at the shows--instead, at home they tie and fish and think, and live their lives. But they have stories they share, and I like it when they leak out in the stories others tell--. I had an Uncle Sue who was like that (his name really was Sue)--a master fisherman in Western Massachusetts in the 50s and 60s. I'd love to have a peek at their flyboxes--that would be a good thread too--the inside of your fly boxes--. I think we have a lot to carry us through the winter?

Now, if we can get this "Melvinalify" spam cleaned up....

bb

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Eperous
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Re: Darbee hackle

Post by Eperous » Fri Dec 23, 2016 8:05 pm

bearbutt wrote:... Now, if we can get this "Melvinalify" spam cleaned up....
Second that motion... ;)

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Eperous
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Re: Darbee hackle

Post by Eperous » Fri Dec 23, 2016 8:10 pm

Interesting post Theroe, great looking hackle...

Back then I never acquired any necks from the Darbees, but I purchased several out-of-printed, used books from Elsie... the Darbees were one of the very few places a young wannabe trout flyfisher like me could purchase old classics before the days of Nick Lyons and Freshet Press... ;)

Ed

Theroe
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Re: Darbee hackle

Post by Theroe » Sun Dec 25, 2016 11:59 pm

Bud
My teacher is Ivan Willard from Pennsylvania - I met him while fishing the Lackawaxen River in the mid 1970's, and became one of his students around 1985. We have a group of guys who fish and tie together, the "one more cast" crew. When at the Lackawaxen, we all sort of hung out at Charlie Brights shop in Rowland, PA. Unfortunately, Charlie passed away two weeks ago.....I could write a book or two with the knowledge and life lessons learned from both of these men.
RIP Charles.
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IMG_3831.JPG
Ivan Willard, 3rd from left, at TU function.
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