|I saw my first hornberg in Hank Roberts Shop on Pearl
in the early 1960's. I bought three to try and they worked great.
Guess what? They still work great.
Info below is from the Global Fly Fisher - http://globalflyfisher.com
Frank Hornberg was the creator of the Hornberg Special. While the
fly is familiar to many, relatively little is written or known about
the man. He was born February 27, 1882 in Wisconsin. In 1920 he became
the first game warden assigned to Portage county Wisconsin and served
there until his retirement in 1950. Frank Hornberg was a classic example
of an old-time game warden and a colorful public figure. He died June
15, 1966 in Santa Rosa, California. It was during the 1920's he developed
the fly that bears his name.
The standard Hornberg as typically described in current flyfishing
literature and as sold commercially has a few salient features. It
is tied on a 2 X long streamer hook. The shank is wound with silver
tinsel. Yellow calf tail or small hackles are then tied in as an under
wing. The wing consists of two gray mallard flank feathers tied parallel
and vertically along the shank. Jungle cock eyes are attached so that
the second eye shows. The front is then wound with grizzly dry fly
hackle. Hook sizes usually range from 10 to 6.
Frank Hornberg initially designed the Hornberg Special as a dry fly.
Several sources claim that he designed this pattern in the 1920's.
Then in the 1940's the Weber Tackle Company helped him develop the
fly for commercial production. The 1940's were the golden age for
domestic fly production and Portage county was then the home to five
tackle companies. Of these the largest was the Weber Tackle Company.
The Hornberg Special became one of the flies listed in their catalogue.
It probably was this catalogue listing that contributed to the widespread
distribution and usage of the Hornberg Special.
The Hornberg can be fished as a dry fly dead drift or fished as a
streamer below the surface of the water. Alternately a combination
approach can be employed. It can be cast out upstream and drifted
until the fly swings below and dangles. Then the fly can be pulled
under the surface and stripped in as a streamer. Fished as a dry fly
the Hornberg is suggested to represent a caddis or stonefly. When
stripped subsurface it is intended to represent a baitfish.
While the above is probably the most common form of the Hornberg seen
today, it really represents just the current stage in the evolution
of this fly. This current version differs from the original Hornberg.
The old version differs from the current version by having wing tips
that were lacquered and twisted or stroked to a point.
When tied in a small size and with the wings tented over the shank
it may well represent a caddis. Frank Hornberg is said to have tied
it as an imitation of lucastrine caddis, a caddis common to central
While originally designed as a dry fly, the Hornberg special must
have proven to be effective when fished subsurface. Now it is mainly
regarded as a streamer pattern. Since its appearance in the midwest,
it has gained popularity in the Northeast. There it became the Hornberg
instead of the Hornberg Special and the wings tips were left unlacquered.
|The standard Hornberg is constructed from the following
materials as described by Bates (1950):
Hook: Streamer, size 6
Body: Flat silver tinsel
Underwing: Narrow strips of two yellow neck hackles
Overwing: Two barred grey mallard breast feathers
Cheeks: Jungle cock, fairly long
Throat: 4-5 turns of grizzly dry fly collar
|It is not unusual to seen minor substitutions for some
of the materials. The hooks range from 2x to 4x long. The underwing
can be hackle, calf tail or bucktail. The hackle collar is grizzly
or a mix of grizzly and brown. All of these slight substituions would
produce a traditional Hornberg.
However as with all effective patterns variations were made to the
original. Some of these alternative patterns may have been intended
to develop certain aspects. Any of the following changes would make
the result some variant of a Hornberg.
Underwing Color: Orange, Red
Throat: Soft hackle tied similar to a salmon collar
Wing: Replacement of the Mallard by anything else is usually
the starting point of controversy. Some regard Mallard as an essential
component if the fly is to be called a Hornberg. Others are more forgiving
and see no substantial objection to replacement of Mallard with other
barred flanks feathers such as Woodduck or Teal. More radically substituitions
involves use of other feathers such as Amherst, Silver, and Golden
pheasant. There does not appear to be any consensus as to what the
resulting fly should be called.