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Hummingbirds - an historic enquiry


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4 replies to this topic

#1 Hummer

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Posted 16 February 2020 - 11:18 PM

Hi guys,

Sorry for a slightly off-beat, oddball enquire - but I really hope you can help!

Im researching the historic use of hummingbird feathers in the Victorian and Edwardian era. A lot of the trade in them was for the fashion houses of London and Paris, and hat-makers in particular.

I wondered, however, if their feathers were ever used in the creation of any fishing flies? Given their colour and iridescence, and the fact that there was an active commercial trade in them at the time, I would have thought they might have been. But I really need some folks with expert fly-tying knowledge who can confirm this was the case, if it was!

Really hoping someone might be able to help.

Very best,

Jon

#2 alchemist

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Posted 17 February 2020 - 10:47 PM

I doubt it.  I have looked through the Hardy and Farlows patter books and have not found an instance of a hummingbird feather being used.  Atlantic Salmon flies are relatively large compared to the size of a feather on a hummingbird.  However, I am no expert on what feathers have been used on salmon fly patterns.

 

Mark



#3 Hummer

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Posted 18 February 2020 - 10:14 AM

Thanks for all your efforts, Mark - I really appreciate it.

 

I wondered about some of the tail feathers, which on some species (the sylphs, for example) are fairly long, but if they're not in the books, that answers my questions.

 

Very best,

 

Jon



#4 jgogg

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Posted 27 February 2020 - 04:37 PM

 I am unaware of any traditional published patterns that call for hummingbird feathers.  They are not native to the British Isles and the general size of the feathers is not particularly suitable for salmon flies.


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#5 Gordeaux

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Posted 25 March 2020 - 05:28 PM

I do not think there were many birds from the British Isles used for salmon fly tying.  Indian Crow and Cotinga are good examples of this as well as many others.