The Greenwell’s Glory without doubt must be one of the most successful and popular flies ever devised, and furthermore it is equally beloved by both river and Stillwater fishermen, who fish it either in its wet or dry form. In fact it is one of the few flies which has become almost a legend,and is consequently known outside trout fishing circles. Despite this it is not such a popular fly today as it has been in the past, as it is after all a general pattern,meant to represent any of the olive duns or their nymphs, where as now most anglers tend to choose patterns to represent specific species.
The history of this fly has been well documented, and the basic facts are as follows. Whilst the name of the fly perpetuates the Durham Canon whose surname was Green-well, the credit for the pattern should really go to his fly dresser, one James Wright of Sprouston, a professional dresser of flies. One day in May, so the story is told, the Canon brought to Wright an olive dun that he had caught on the water that day and asked him to dress a pattern to represent it. Apparently Wright’s copy was so successful that it was duly christened and immortalized by the Canon. Even so some doubt as to the true originator still exists, as a dressing recommended by one Mark Aitken several years before is extremely similar. Originally the Greenwell was fished and dressed as a wet fly, but as dry fly fishing became increasingly popular the pattern was slightly modified and became a great favourite, from the swift and rocky rivers and streams of the north to the gentle placid chalk streams in the south. It was also used extensively and gained a rapid reputation on many lakes and lochs, where it was dribbled gently over the surface on the top dropper as a bob fly. As far as the modernStillwater fisherman is concerned it is still a very useful pattern to have in one’s box, to be fished in this way to represent either hatching pond or lake olives. In its original form as a wet fly it is also a useful general pattern, and may be fished at various depths either from a slowly drifting boat or better still from the bank to represent any of the nymphs of olives on stillwaters where they are observed.
Like many of the older traditional fly patterns it is, fairly simple to tie. First of all tie in a length of fine gold wire with yellow tying silk, which should then be well waxed before winding back to the eye to form the body. The next step is to rib the body with the gold wire and then tie in two or three turns of a Coch-y-Bonddu cock hackle. The final operation is to tie the paired wings of blackbird over the top of the hackle and sloping well back. According to the original dressing these should be split to finish, butthis is rarely practiced nowadays. On the other hand the wings for the dry pattern which are tied in before the hackle is applied are well split with a figure of eight tying and should be raked well forward over the eye, (see image).
Hooks: Size 12 to 14.
Rib: Fine Gold Wire.
Body: Yellow silk with cobblers’ wax applied to give body a greenish-yellow hue.
Hackle: Coch-Y-Bonddu Cock.
Wings: Blackbird tied in and split, sloping back for the wet pattern or forward for the dry.