This cape was one of my father’s favorite objects. It came from the Jungle Cock, which was a fowl indigenous to India.
Flies made from its feathers were popular among trout fishermen in the 40s, but not so much anymore. The “eyes,” as we called them, were always tied on the hook in pairs, one on each side.
There was a time when the bird was classified “Endangered,” which meant no one in America could legally buy, sell, barter, or import the feathers. They became so scarce that a frightened stillness fell over the entire fly-tying community. Fishermen spoke in hushed whispers about the law that seemed unreasonably punitive. But the war was going on and there were other big issues to think about.
I caught a nice brown with this fly, and you can see how it got chewed up. I retired it to a place of honor in my ornament box. I used a lot of peacock herl on my streamers, but never made two the same. The fish didn’t care, because they were so hedonistic in those days they’d eat anything that looked like a bug, and Jungle Cock eyes made them all the more ferocious.
My special fly box still contains about 200 Jungle Cock flies that I made as a teenager. They were so handsome I retired them also. No malodorous fish was going to chew those beautiful bugs.
If anyone can make a better looking fly than this one, and post its photo on Dal’s blog, I’ll give them a quarter. Just send me a SASE,
Each fly my father sold was impaled upon one of these little advertisements.