The Orange Otter

Orange Otter

A Fly for Wales.
Some of you will recall that, about 9 or 10 years ago, Christopher Knowles was briefly a Committee member. Chris earned a living in the world of Opera, but was a fisherman and spent much time on the River Irthon, our destination in October. In 2006, Medlar published his book ‘Orange Otter’, which traced the life of the Rev. Edward Powell, 1888 – 1972, who spent his life in the Parish of Munslow, Salop, endowed by an advowson by his father and a role occupied by four previous generations of Powell’s, living in the rectory built by his Great Grandfather in 1805.
    Fishing was in the family and Edward Powell – EP- became one of the greatest exponents of Border fishing. He contributed to magazines of the day and invented flies which suited the tumbling streams of the borders, and assisted his phenomenal catch rates. His best recorded day catch was 124 fish and, as he kept for the table fish over 7’’, he soon was banned or at least discouraged by Owners, Associations and Hotels alike. Moreover, he did not shirk from publicising his success.
     Of his flies, mostly dries, many remain well known, but one more so – the Orange Otter, whose mention in the 5th Edition of Courtney William’s Dictionary, 1973, P 271 reads ‘An astonishingly good dry pattern for Grayling, invented by that well-known fly-tier and expert fisherman, the Rev Edward Powell of Munslow, Shropshire. It goes on to say ‘the O. O. is a fly over which even staid and sedate fisherman find it difficult to restrain their enthusiasm. I have heard it described as, ‘phenomenal’ and ‘devastating,’ and, ‘but it is as a grayling fly that the O O is preeminent’. Apparently, the timing of our visit to the Irthon is spot on as, it is, ‘an unusual and most attractive pattern which will take grayling from August to November’.

The dressing given is
Hackle:  Very small red cock tied nearly in centre of body.
Body:  In two parts, thorax and abdomen, divided by hackle. Pale biscuit-coloured underpart of an Otter’s throat, soaked overnight in picric acid solution and then boiled for a few minutes in the same solution, plus an equal measure of red ink, plus an equal amount of water!
Whisks:  Red Cock.
Hook:  16.

Therefore, if any of you have an Otter’s skin and will dye as prescribed, let me know. Should you wish to return to the present, Knowles give a 2006 recipe.
Hook:  14 – 16 L/S
Tying silk:  Orange or hot orange.
Body:  In two parts, thorax and abdomen, divided by hackle. Seals fir – 3 parts Hot orange + 1 part Claret.
Tail:  Red game.
Hackle:  Long feather, short-fibred jungle cock, red, about 10 turns OR 8/9 turns of the neck of wild jungle cock, ginger, tied in the centre Again, as the hackle is/may be difficult – red game.
I have a picture of the fly, taken from Christopher Knowle’s book. The fly is tied very ‘bushy’, in the boarder style, on what looks to be a grub hook.
Bob Sharp January 2020