View Full Version : Smbbsh
08-13-2007, 05:10 PM
This may be more appropriately placed in the Fly Tying section of this board, but since there have been so many questions posted here about it I thought y'all would get a kick out of it here.
While trying to dissect a SMBBSH and subsequently trying to track down a recipe for it, I came across a rather obscure recipe. It's for a fly called "Little Chap" and it bears an uncanny resemblance to our SMBBSH. Follow this link to "Practical Fly Fishing" by John Beever, published in 1849 :eek: with the original from Oxford University.
When you get there, scroll to page 26 and read the recipe. Then, for a look at a contemporary variant, go to this site:
With a slight change of thread color, that's our SMBBSH :biggrin:
08-13-2007, 07:03 PM
While it does look similar from afar, the materials used to tie it are completely different, especially the "hackles." I get my blackbirds from mr. hartsell, and i really think that it's the "hackles" that really make it a fish catching machine. The reason i have quotation marks around it is because it doesn't move like normal hackles in the water. They are very long and move very fluid and lifelike underwater. It's funny, i think the blackbird is one of the most simple flies to tie, yet it is by far the most effective and consistent fly i've ever fished with.
08-14-2007, 03:02 PM
While it does look similar from afar, the materials used to tie it are completely different, especially the "hackles."Craig
You won't find an example (by name) of Mr. Hartsell's SMBBSH at his website. You will, however, find it on his page of wet flies and soft hackles - 4th row, 1st on the left - called simply "Starling and Herl"
You'll also find a variation of it on page two of his Nymphs and Emergers - 11th row, 1st on the left, called "Starling and Indigo"
This second one is an interesting variant of the description from the text of the 1849 pamphlet which suggests using a a dark blue hackle as an alternative. Kind of a composite. Beever also recommends using orange silk in July/August and running it out to expose just a bit below the herl... like Mr. Hartsell does with his indigo.
Now, once you've looked at the above two links, take a look at the following two links:
The first is simply titled "Starling and Herl" as tied by Steve Crosby. The second is an interpretation of the "Little Chap" wet fly from the 1849 pamphlet "Practical Fly Fishing". The interpretation was tied by Levern Burm and his recipe calls for a peacock Herl body with a Starling hackle. So, in essence, all four of these are tied using Starling and Herl as the principal components.
For kicks, you might want to print out each of these images and lay them side by side. The resemblance is more than just uncanny. The ingredients are the same. Peacock and Starling - Starling and herl... you say tomato, I say tomahto...
I agree that the choice of the hackle feather makes all the difference. (I know the action you're talking about because I was fortunate enough to have been given a few of Mr. Hartsell's fies by a friend and they've served me quite well.) Starling appears to be the hackle feather of choice for all of these. Even then, very few of the Starling feathers will produce the lifelike qualities you mention. Granted, the original recipe from 1849 called for a hackle feather from a Peewitt. I have no idea how that may perform in water. However, earlier in the text, Mr. Beever makes reference to the fact that in his time, fly tiers from different parts of the kingdom were partial to different materials... he goes on to say that in London, many fly tiers preferred starling. So it could very well be that the Little Chap wet fly was often tied with Starling and Herl. ;)
08-14-2007, 04:57 PM
Yes starling and peacock herl are materials that have been used for many years, but I am afraid I have to agree with Mtnman. It clearly states in this article from Huge's site (with photo) that the primary ingredients are starling and hare's mask. I don't think the body of the SMBBSH is peacock herl, and it obviously has a wire rib. The Starling and Indigo doesn't appear to have any peacock herl in it either. The thorax appears to be a spiky dubbing with guard hairs, perhaps hare's ear as well. Now the Starling and Herl and the Little Chap appear to be very similar material wise.
08-14-2007, 08:18 PM
gerry; have you tryed a search for crow fly i recall a old pattern by that name i have had at one time had a few old smoky patterns.and that rings a bell
08-15-2007, 08:20 AM
Yes starling and peacock herl are materials that have been used for many years, but I am afraid I have to agree with Mtnman. It clearly states in this article from Huge's site (with photo) that the primary ingredients are starling and hare's mask... Now the Starling and Herl and the Little Chap appear to be very similar material wise.
Hey Flyman --
Thanks for the link! I'd never seen that page from Hugh's website before. You'd think with all the bizarre searching I've done, I'd have been more thorough with Hugh's website. Egg on my face :redface: .
Fact is, I've been searching elsewhere online for a recipe or pictures to match a few flies I had been given by a friend. He told me that Hugh had given him some SMBBSH flies and he'd been trying to copy them. He gave me about a dozen flies - some of his copies with some of Hugh's mixed in. There wasn't a single dubbed body in the lot. They were all Starling and Herl - some wrapped with copper wire and some not. I assumed they were original recipe flies... and we all know what happens when one assumes things. (Who knows?? they may have been Hugh's SMBBSH attempts from a few yeas ago before he settled on the dubbed body.)
In any event, I have had great success with these little Starling and Herl wet flies. Some of the best fish I've caught in the Smokies this year have fallen victim to them. And I'm tying up a bunch more in smaller sizes now that I've found out which wing feathers to use for the hackle and the best way to tie them in - thanks to the Oliver Edwards DVD on fishing North Country spiders.
With apologies to anyone I may have misled with my links (you can't say it wasn't an interesting journey :biggrin: )...
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