Palmering, Pilgrims, fly tying history, the Worm and the Plague

thanks to this great comment left by reader Phil Foster on yesterday’s brainwashem’ young- Julian’s Wouf-Wouf salmon fly in regards to my mentioning “in the fly tying world, ‘palmering‘ means winding a hackle around the hook shank, not pulling hackle fibres back before winding/palmering the hackle to the hook shank.”

palmerworm 3“Per “The Fly Fisher’s Illustrated Dictionary” authored by Darrel Martin…….PALMER
A forward-spiraling hackle, a running hackle, with or without stem gaps; also called a ‘buzz hackle’; any fly tied with palmer hackle. The tying technique of spiraling a hackle laterally along the shank or body of a fly; the hackled, artificial fly resembling the Palmer worm, dated 1651; an artificial resembling a Palmer-worm, a hairy, wandering tineid moth larva. The term ‘palmer’ comes from the wandering pilgrim-beggar or palmer, “… the Palmer got its name from the pilgrims who walked …to the Holyland in fulfillment of a vow. When they came back home they wore pieces of palm leaves in their hats to signify they had made that long journey and were called palmers….Because a caterpillar , with all it’s legs, does a lot of walking, it likewise became a palmer” ( Harold Smedley, ‘Fly Patterns and Their Origins'[1950]. The medieval Palmer wore crossed palm leaves to indicate his travels.” The Palmer Worm is a small worm covered with hair, supposed to be so called because it wanders over all plants”( Charles Bowlker, ‘The Art of Angling’ [1839]”

which got me to wondering about how the verb ‘Palmering’ originated (actually, i’ve been wondering about this for years but never took the time to do a little research…) and found some interesting if not mostly completely non-fly tying related results yet they’re all related to this very stylish and hairy bug. enjoy !


Dictionary

palmerworm
noun palm·er·worm \-ˌwərm\
Definition of PALMERWORM
: a caterpillar that suddenly appears in great numbers devouring herbagepalmer worm

“I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your gardens and your vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees increased, the palmerworm devoured [them]: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD”

“Ancient Palmer Worm. THE Palmer-Worm, or Pilgrim-Worm, mentioned in Joel i. 4, and Amos iv. 9, was a voracious, hairy caterpillar, which was, with the locust, a scourge of the East. Even before it reaches the winged state it is very destructive, but after it attains that period, its ravages are terrible.”

“That which the palmer-worm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the canker-worm eaten; and that which the canker-worm hath left hath the caterpillar eaten.”

suffice to say, and for our fly tying purposes, even if it is somewhat amusing to see how our prickly friends where transformed into crawling, earth-sucking  Mothra-esque demons, we can completely ignore all this biblical stuff, safely continue our fly tying activities and sleep well at night knowing how the hackling technique got its name.
 
palmerworm 2 it’s a little sad to see such a lovely creature get so much bad press but in the end, we’re still around to admire its beauty and be thankful for inspiring early fly tiers to create what is one of the most basic tying techniques there is.

Caenis Ins and Outs

see-nis frombelow m.fauvet:TLC 7-6-15we already know this gorgeous little creature has several functions:

– firstly and most importantly, it gets us all excited when we see one. it makes us stop whatever it was we where doing (even if that something was fun), run over and grab a rod and do what’s natural for us fly fishers: have more fun than what normal people consider as fun.
– it also means that the environment where these wee things came from is in pretty good shape. as an example, the bug above was born right next to my house on the Canal du Midi, a green, warm and rather slimy-looking waterway that’s been enjoying a rather drastic decrease in pollutants of all kinds in recent years.
as well as the all-time standard chironomids one would expect to see in waters like this, there’s also been a great increase of caddis and damsels with all of them keeping the house martins, swifts and of course fish busy and happy and not to get all mushy, but that all makes me happy too.

but there’s a lot more to these bugs, here’s some maybe not-so-commonly known facts about our little friends. let’s start with the out’s, the kind of info that takes up unnecessary brain disk-space while remaining amusing.

caenis scrabble
(
no self-respecting fly fisher would be caught dead playing a word game that doesn’t accept real and important words so, this shouldn’t be a problem)

out of the 160 or so different types of caenidae, some of them have interesting monikers such as:
Caenis amica well known for being the friendliest of the species.
Caenis bella for having won a beauty contest when he was oversees.
Caenis catherinae because it’s the sweetest of the family thus named after my Mémé Catherine.
Caenis cornuta because she either has a horn or her boyfriend is cheating on her.
Caenis hilaris this one’s good at telling jokes.
Caenis latipennis your guess is as good as mine…
Caenis moe from the Three Stooges.
Caenis oculta named after Abby the Goth Girl.
and Caenis robusta for its insatiable desire for strong, bittery coffee.

to conclude the pointless part of this post here are caenis anagrams.
caenis anagrams
(those are really boring words. best to stick to the original as much as possible… )

and now for the in, a little something all fishers can really benefit from: how to pronounce what’s probably the most ill-pronounced bug on the planet !
caenis pronounced
and if that doesn’t make sense, it’s SeeNiss and not KayNiss !

a big thanks to buddy, all-round cool guy, fellow Barrio Fly Lines Pro-Team member and language stickler/Lineslinger Will Shaw for reminding me of my own pronunciation deficiencies. yes, i used to be a Kaynisser
for more pointless caenissy info click either text block. enjoy !

“My marriage is crumbling and this

hat is all I have left in the world – aside from my brilliant wit, my dastardly good looks, and my charming accent.”
~ Bauvard, The Prince of Plungers

midge hat M:Fauvet:TLC 29-11-14

just in time- the Octobre Cinnamon Caddis Wet

another great tying tutorial from Tim Flagler at Tightlinevideo

these little beauties are all about these days and apart from admiring their cuteness, as trout fishers one of the better things we can do is try to use that cuteness to try to entice some fish before winter sets in.
Tim’s video shows how to construct a very lively and durable wet imitation to be fished as all wets, upstream, across or on the swing. fish it on its own or as a dropper from a nymph or dry. enjoy, and happy catches !

Damsels and Dragons

whether they’re screwing around whilst flying, planking on a blade of grass or sunbathing while shaking their butts, these gorgeous creatures not only bring out fantastic visions of fishing terrestrial imitations and their oft explosive takes but maybe more importantly, they’re reminders of nice summer days by the water and these memories are something to cherish and keep with us throughout the colder months.

thanks to great videographer Tbfxtcxzo for allowing us to relive these warm buggy moments all year.

monday’s may

nice little surprise visit this morning from Mrs. May B while having the coffee and trying to catch up on emails.
she landed on my computer’s trackpad, jiggled a bit for me and stuck around for the photo shoot and went on her jolly way.
nice way to start off the week and a new month. bye babe !

monday's may M.Fauvet:TLC 1-9-14

biblical hexes

mayfly satelite July202014“A massive mayfly hatch on the Mississippi River in the La Crosse, Wisconsin area July 20, 2014, was described as a insect infestation of “biblical proportions” so intense that it made driving in the region difficult and even dangerous. Poor visibility and slippery roads (due to mayflies) were blamed for a three-vehicle accident on the Hwy. 63 bridge linking Red Wing and Hager City, Wisconsin, that left one person hospitalised.”

sure, this info has gone a bit viral lately. some have seen it and this is for those who haven’t. apart from the poor people hurt in the accident this is a magical moment to say the least.
click the gif for the full story by Ross Purnell at FlyFisherman

the last Molt

i can’t figure out why but this dun to spinner transformation stuff gets me all excited ! after two seconds i immediately shut down the sucky music and found myself grunting along with the beast simultaneously shouting PUSH – PULL – PUSH !!!
for the full exhilarating experience i suggest you do the same. note how near the end it just ‘walks away’ from its front-right leg just as any self-respecting zombie might do. too cool, enjoy !

 

surprise visit

'canalmay' 2 m.fauvet:tlc 24-6-14TLC headquarters is within spitting distance of a canal in the south of France: Le Canal du Midi. as scenic and tourist-drawing as this little waterway may be, and even though its commercial use of shipment barges is long gone, it nevertheless runs through a valley where agriculture borders it from the Atlantic ocean to the Mediterranean sea. in other words, its a gutter for pesticides and whatever else crap that comes from both sides of the surrounding hills. not the kind of place one wants to go for a swim and its pretty rare to see anyone doing this.
aquatic insect life is what you might expect, mostly chironomids (in great quantities !) and a few dragonfly species just to name the more prominent flutterers. however, in the last few years their have been a few visits at night to my desk from small and lovely caddis adults. a little research and explanations from amateur entomologist friends have countered my idea that these lovely bugs could actually live and develop in the thick sticky silt that beds this canal but yesterday’s surprise was a real slap in the face, at least this guy’s “any kind of mayfly must come from a lovely, clean, bubbling, cool temped, stone-bottomed stream” face. i like to be slapped like this and hope it happens frequently.

'canalmay' m.fauvet:tlc 24-6-14

the Perils of Pernod

caught in a puddle of this disgustingly sweet anis-flavoured apéritif, little did our little midge know that it would be the death of her, specially when drank pure instead of the more traditional preparation consisting of four parts cold water and maybe an ice cube or two. live and learn.

'the perils of Pernod' m.fauvet:tlc 13-6-14

Borneo Bugs

hi folks ! the somewhat promise of semi-regular and live updates of my trip to Borneo written about on the previous post didn’t pan out so i’ll start here little by little.
its hard to decide what subject to choose when just about everything on the trip was new, exotic and equally superbe on all levels, so, on a whim here’s some really trippy-beautiful bugs that where all around us at the Mannis-Mannis ‘RoofTop of Borneo’ lodge in Crocker Range National Park on the island of Sabah. i always miss TLC when i can’t log on so, it’s good to be back. anyhow…

i hope you likem’ big !

borneo bug 8 m.fauvet:tlc 2014
borneo bug 6 m.fauvet:tlc 2014

this one had a thing for ‘Smooth‘ Naveen’s tats.borneo bug 5 m.fauvet:tlc 2014
borneo bug 2 m.fauvet:tlc 2014

borneo bug 4 m.fauvet:tlc 2014

borneo bug 14 m.fauvet:tlc 2014

Sabah bug 1 m.fauvet:tlc 2014

it’s like tripping 24/7 !borneo bug 15 m.fauvet:tlc 2014
approximately 35cm span.borneo bug M.fauvet:tlc 2014fur detail: was as soft as it looks.borneo bug 10 m.fauvet:tlc 2014
accessories for scale.borneo bug 12 m.fauvet:tlc 2014
25 cm minimum span width.
borneo bug 3 m.fauvet:tlc 2014
borneo bug 16 m.fauvet:tlc 2014

this one likes creamer with its coffee.borneo bug 13 m.fauvet:tlc 2014

toilet paper dispenser stalker.borneo bug 7 m.fauvet:tlc 2014

interestingly enough, being in a jungle and all, with all its reputations of swarms of blood-sucking critters i didn’t get bit a single time by a mosquito. however, this lovely wasp decided to land on the back of my neck while i was peeing at the lodge.
not knowing what it was, i absentmindedly brushed off the ‘whatever‘ and as they always seem to do when panicked, left its long and pointy dard under my teeshirt collar. a little Neosporin took off the edge.

borneo wasp m.fauvet:tlc 2014

coming up next (as soon as jet-lagging completely wears off… ) are tons more photos of new friends, fly casting hot-shots, some first-time fish, several product reviews, the promised contest and who knows what else. in the meantime, enjoy !

an adult chironomid

freshly hatched from the Canal du Midi right here at TLC-HQ, this little thing’s total body length is about 5mm long.

adult midge m.fauvet:tlc 3-5-14

true, fish will usually see these tidbits from underneath as chironomids/midges finish their final transformation from emerger to completed adult at the water’s surface but a) the canal isn’t very inviting swim-wise, b) it’s cold and rainy outside and c) i have no idea where my swim trunks are and d) i don’t feel like scaring the little girls that just moved in next door…

anyway, i always consider it a treat to see the delicate beauty of these creatures but also on practical terms, as fly tiers this image can help us with details, proportions and to highlight how sunlight shows through them and maybe give us a better idea how to translate all that to our flies.
with a similarly replicating ‘looking up towards the sky’ fish’s perspective, the bug was completely backlit when the image was taken. note that every part except for the darkest are translucent.
of interest as well are the slender micro feather-like breathers, big eye(s), hefty thorax and slender abdomen and the legs are as long as the body. to me it’s not about tying hyper-realistic flies but of gathering the essential trigger points that make great fishing flies, not flies that catch fishers.

sure, depending on which area of the world you’re in, midges can and will be of very different sizes in hook terms, say, from a size 8 to size 28 and while this one’s green they’ll also be found in various tones of red, black, yellow and who knows what else, but these bugs all basically have the same details and proportions.
generally speaking, tie your midge patterns skinny and airy and you’ll most certainly catch more fish !