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 Post subject: Smoky Mountain blackbird
PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2016 12:57 pm 
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Rainbow Trout

Joined: Mon May 21, 2012 4:51 pm
Posts: 53
Hey, I'm looking for additional info on the Smoky Mountain Blackbird, as you probably know, what's on line is relatively limited. Also, what's a decent substitution for starling feathers? Thanks for any suggestions.


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 Post subject: Re: Smoky Mountain blackbird
PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2016 8:02 pm 
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Brown Trout
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Joined: Thu Jul 10, 2008 7:30 pm
Posts: 1464
There's a few different versions of the Smokey Mt. Blackbird. The one Hugh Hartsell ties is his own soft hackle variation. In his words:
Quote:
... After a few attempts at trying different hackle and various amounts of weight, I settled on a recipe that I am still using today. The basic ingredients are Black Hares Mask dubbing and hackle taken from the wings and tail of the Starling....

From the picture, it appears to be a somewhat standard soft hackle in form, with a black hare's ear dubbed body, some kind of rib, and a hackle made from the wing of a starling, sort of the way a yellow hammer is done from a dove's (flicker) wing.
Hugh's fly doesn't seem to have a tail, although he mentions it elsewhere, and no mention is made of weight.

There was a discussion about the fly back on the old Southeast Flyfishing Forum (Harvey's old board) that I recall:
Quote:
KYratchethead:
Here is the pattern for the original Smoky Mountain Blackbird as listed by L.J.DeCuir in his book Southeastern Flies.
* * Hook : Mustad 9672, TMC 5263, or 3-4X Streamer hook, Size 4 - 10.
* * Thread : Black.
* * Weight : Lead wire.
* * Tail : Barbules from the wing feather of a blackbird.
* * Body : Peac-ock herl.
* * Palmered Rib : Split wing feather of a blackbird.
Hugh Hartsell has indeed adapted the pattern into a soft-hackle pattern by substituting a blackbird body feather for the hackle, if I'm not mistaken, and it is indeed a great looking fly, which can be seen and purchased on his web site. *Please correct this information if it is wrong, Dr. Hartsell.

Hugh Hartsell:
Mr. K, the recipe that L.J. DeQuir gives for the Original *Smoky Mountain Blackbird pattern sounds right except for hook size. There is another fly called the Crow Fly that is tied the same way except that the wing feather from a crow is used and it makes a bigger fly which would call for the hook sizes that he gives for the Blackbird. The size hooks for the Original Blackbird would be size#16- #12.


Here's the URL for Hugh's own WEB site: http://smokymountainflyguide.com/articl ... NBLACKBIRD

As for substitutes for starling, any soft hackle dyed black should work, but if you want the stiffer action that Hugh's version calls for, you're pretty much stuck with starling. I'm sure there are some around where you live, they aren't protected, pick one off with a BB gun....


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 Post subject: Re: Smoky Mountain blackbird
PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 2016 11:18 am 
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Brown Trout

Joined: Sat Mar 08, 2008 11:46 am
Posts: 987
Location: Hickory, NC
You can buy a whole Starling skin for like $6.95. Most fly shops have em and I know they are available on ebay!

That's what I use.

Ralph

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 Post subject: Re: Smoky Mountain blackbird
PostPosted: Thu Jul 21, 2016 10:23 pm 
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Brook Trout
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Joined: Wed Dec 17, 2008 1:43 pm
Posts: 220
I've saw him tie it at Troutfest a few years ago. It's weighted with lead wire in the thorax area. He also used some kind of scud/curved type hook like a TMC 2488 or Mustad C49. This is about what the recipe would look like.

Hook: TMC 2488 10-16
Weight:8-10 wraps lead wire to match hook diameter ( I distinctly remember the lead wire because he wore latex gloves to protect his hands from the lead and the discussion about why)
Thread:Black 8/0
Body:Black Hare's Ear
Thorax:Black Hare's Ear
Rib:Red Wire
Hackle:Starling

You could use any dark soft hackle (hen or type 4 CDC feather would work), but to me starling has a sheen like peacock that's hard to beat. The way he wrapped the hackle was in the classic Flymph style. In other words the hackle is palmered with 4 or 5 wraps from the back of the thorax to the eye. Not all the wraps are tied directly behind the eye like a classic soft hackle.
https://youtu.be/G4q49jOdb3g

I think I have a way to wrap the hackle that is easier but still achieves the same result and a stronger tie off. I can't remember if Hugh did it this classic way or the way I use.


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 Post subject: Re: Smoky Mountain blackbird
PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2016 4:17 pm 
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Rainbow Trout

Joined: Mon May 21, 2012 4:51 pm
Posts: 53
Thanks all for your input.This hot weekend will be a good time to start a few.


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