Fred Buller has come up with two possibilities for what
the Hippouros might have been and three possible dressings for the Macedonian
The first dressing is by David Beazley, one-time curator
of the Flyfisher's Club. David's fly is shown on the right. On the left is a
female Therioplectes tricolor, which is a type of horsefly found in Macedonia
- could this be the Hippouros fly?
The other possibility Fred suggests is that the Hippouros
was a species of drone fly, perhaps Episyrphus balteatus, shown below
on the left. Fred asked Kenneth Robson, the editor of The Flyfisher's Journal,
to tie his interpretation of the Hippouros fly assuming that it was a drone
fly, and the two patterns Kenneth tied are shown below on the right.
(all photographs reproduced with permission of Fred
These patterns used to be the only game in town when
it came to reproductions of the Hippouros fly and rather fine they are too,
but inevitably, there are other theories about what this fly may have looked
like. John Betts, for example, thinks that the Hippouros may have been a species
of dragon fly, given the reference Ælian made to it's
habit of eating other insects. John's exertise in the area is so great that
anything he says has to be taken seriously, but it doesn't explain what the
Macedonian fly was tied to imitate. Fortunately, there is another alternative,
introduced to me by Dr. Goran Grubic, professor of the Faculty of Agriculture
in Zemun, which is part of University of Belgrade. This is a fly which is now
in my possession and which was tied by the late Mr. Dusan Pendzerkovski of Bitola,
Macedonia. Professor Grubic's father fished with him in the south-eastern part
of what is today known as Republic of Macedonia, some 10 years ago. According
to Professor Grubic, Mr. Pendzerkovski:
...was also using the Ælian method: he used to cut
his hazel rod on the river bank, attach some 10 ft. of mono to the tip, and
one or two flies on the end of the line. He was very successful fisherman. Unfortunately
I had no opportunity to meet him. As far as I know there are no such "old
time masters" in Macedonia anymore.
the key thing about this fly, apart from the fact that it was fished by someone
who came from Macedonia itself, is the colour of the hackle. Yeah, that's right
- it is brown. Ancient beeswax was not bleached the way the stuff we use today
is; and if you get hold of any 'natural' beeswax the first thing you will notice
about it is that it is a non-descript muddy colour that isn't hard to counterfeit
with barnyard rooster hackles. This fly has been the subject of long discussions,
as apart from the rib, it is pretty close to the description Ælian gives.
content with this, Dr. Grubic sent two more flies, which he had tied in the
hand, without using a vice. These flies are whipped onto nylon, using the technique
that was presumably used by Macedonian anglers two thousand years ago and which
you can still see used today, if you go to remote parts of Europe where traditional
fishing methods have still survived. I think these patterns are about as close
as we are going to get to what the Macedonian fly looked like, but for the fact
that the one type of dressing we haven't got here is a red body with a hackle
palmered down it, and since this was a style which was adopted very early on,
you could argue that the fly might have been dressed this way.
You might also like to read what
Stanislaw Cios, an entomologist, has to say about the subject. I reproduce
his contribution to Ronald Broughton's Complete Book of the Grayling
with his permission.
If you have got any better ideas, I would be glad to
hear of them.