The Gaudy Fly

The Gaudy Fly

The term 'Gaudy' was first used to describe flies that contained colour, a rare feature back in the early 1800's when most flies were tied with drab colours. The initial description actually applied itself to a number of differing patterns, with no specific fly called the 'Gaudy'. 

In 1810 that all changed, and the “Gaudy Fly” first appeared in Scotland on the River Tweed around 1810. It is one of five salmon flies that was featured as a full colour illustration in George C. Bainbridge’s Book, “The Fly Fisher’s Guide,” published  in 1816. It is not known who the originator of this fly was, and although featured in Bainbridge's book, he makes no claim to it. 

The fly however is of great historical importance, not only because of its appearance in one of the first colour illustrations of salmon flies, but also because it is one of the very first salmon flies which moved away from the traditional bland colours of that era, and presented itself as a truly colourful fly. It could be argued that the Gaudy set the fashion for the more colourful patterns  we enjoy today.

Fishermen of the day noticed that by using this colourful fly, it tempted fish to the hook, where the more traditional drab colours had failed. This upset many of the more 'dyed in the wool' (pardon the pun), traditional anglers of the day, but its success at drawing in fish, soon established a new and larger following, who then went on to experiment with colour on their own favourite fly's.

The fly was also known in some regional districts as the 'Ogmore', as it was once a well established pattern on Welsh salmon rivers around 1816, and was named after one such local river in South Wales which runs from north to south from the Ogmore Vale and Gilfach Goch. The name "Ogmore" has now all but faded into the mists of time but in the interests of historical reference, I have included it here.


George C. Bainbridge Pattern 1810 

Head:                Black

Tail:                   Strips of Peacock tail

Body:                 Dyed Ostrich herl to match the red feather in the wing

Hackle:              Bright yellow over body

Throat:               The green feather which forms the eye of the Peacock’s tail fastened at the head and left hanging down so as to cover half the body, beard style                      

Wing:                  Pair of blood red feathers, back to back, extending to the hook bend, covered by a pair of Guinea feathers, extending to the barb of the hook


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