One of the most famous of all British trout flies, this pattern was first tied as a wet-fly in the mid-nineteenth century. Developed for fishing on the River Tweed, it is named after a certain Canon Greenwell and even after one hundred and fifty years it still makes a very good imitation of all the olive upwings.
Today, the Greenwell’s Glory is tied in a variety of forms, from the original winged wet-fly to a spider, a nymph and, as here, a splitwinged dry-fly. Although some modern commercial versions use olive floss for the body, the original used yellow silk, well-waxed to produce an olive hue. Equally important is the fact that this waxing also makes the thread translucent — an effect that cannot be replicated by the opaque floss.
This dry-fly version of the Greenwell’s may be tied with or without a tail and, interestingly, unlike Canon Greenwell’s first pattern, it has a gold-wire rib. Various shades of yellow silk may be used from dark to a pale primrose to mimic the body colour of the various upwing species such as the large dark olive, the blue-winged olive and even the iron blue.
Hook Size 14-16 dry-fly
Thread Yellow or primrose silk
Tail Furnace cock hackle (optional)
Rib Fine gold wire
Body Well-waxed yellow or primrose tying silk
Wing Starling or mallard primary
Hackle Furnace cock hackle
1. Fix the hook in the vice. Wax a length of primrose-coloured silk and then wind it on. This waxing imparts a translucency and an olive tinge to the thread.
2. Run the thread down the shank to the bend in close turns. This will help form the bulk required for the finished body.
3. Once the thread has reached the bend select a light furnace cock hackle with long straight fibres.
4. Tear off a bunch of the hackle fibres and, ensuring that the tips are level, catch them in at the bend to form the tail.
5. At the base of the tail, catch in two inches of fine gold wire, allowing the waste end to lie along the shank. Cover the waste ends of the hackle fibres and wire with close thread turns.
6. Once these waste ends have been covered, take the thread part-way back to the tail then back again to build some bulk and a slight taper to the body.
7. With the body formed, take hold of the gold wire and wind it up to the thread in evenly spaced turns.
8. Secure the loose end of the wire and remove the excess. Take two matching slips from opposite sides of a pair of mallard wing quills.
9. Place the slips together so that their tips are level and the shiny sides face one another. This way the natural curves of the feather point away from one another.
10. Hold the prepared wings on top of the hook and position them with a couple of soft winging-loops with the tying thread.
11. Secure the wings with further tight turns of thread before removing the excess material at the base which is sticking over the eye. A couple of turns of thread behind the wings will lift them upright.
12. Select a furnace cock hackle with fibres approximately one-and-a-half to twice the length of the hook gape. Catch it in by its base at the rear of the wings.
13. Take hold of the hackle tip with hackle pliers and wind on two turns behind the wing. Carry the hackle forward and make two or three turns in front of the wing.
14. Secure the hackle tip at the eye and remove the excess. Build a small, neat head and cast off the thread with a whip finish.
WHERE, WHEN & HOW TO FISH
W H E R E
The Greenwell’s Glory is an effective pattern on any river that supports a population of olives of various species. It will catch fish on the largest river right down to the tiniest stream.
W H E N
Given that it may be tied in various sizes to imitate a wide range of olive species, the Greenwell’s will take fish throughout most of the season even on a cold spring day when the large dark olives are hatching.
H O W
As a dry-fly, the Greenwell’s Glory is used singly, either fished upstream to a rising fish or drifted over a likely looking spot. As a wet-fly it may be fished either upstream or downand- across where it is allowed to swing steadily around in the current.
T Y I N G T I P
When using genuine silk tying thread always apply plenty of wax. This not only protects the thread, it also imparts a degree of translucency.