This week’s Throw Back Thursday Fly is the Atherton No. 6 dry fly.
John Atherton (1900 – 1952) was an artist by trade and incorporated his impressionistic art into the flies he tied.
Interestingly, he didn’t name the flies, choosing instead to number his dry flies from 1 to 7, representing lighter to darker shades of mayflies. He also created wet flies and nymphs with the same naming convention and impressionistic characteristics.
His flies were created with “the appearance of life” as a central theme for the flies he developed to replicate colors and tones, textures, and light reflections combined in natural insects. Take a closer look at the flies and you’ll see the mixture of materials making the body and a round tinsel. For hackle, Atherton used mixtures of cree or brown, dun, and ginger mixed with grizzly to create the life-life image of the real insect. For a wing, he liked wood duck because of the “speckled look” created lifelike appearance.
If you’d like more information about John Atherton, I encourage you to read Robert Smith’s John Atherton Dry Flies post on his website, The Sliding Stream. Smith is the author of an excellent book about the history of soft hackles, North Country Flies (2015), a resource I return to often. (Link to The Rogue Angler, where I purchased this book.)
The Atherton No. 6 is the last of a series of dry flies I’ve highlighted. Notice how the flies change color from light to dark as the numbers increase. Here are the links to other Atherton TBT flies:
Dark rusty dun hackle
Bronze mallard flank
Dark muskrat mixed with red-brown fur, such as dyed seal fur
Narrow oval gold tinsel
Rusty dun or dark natural dun and red-brown mixed
Personal tying notes:
- Mustad 94840, size 12
- Collins Barred Rusty Dun hackle
Enjoy…go fish, stay safe!
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