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The Royal Coachman

(or The Fishing Jig)

A 32 bar Jig for 3 couples

Devised by Michael Hanson, Seattle, Washington, 1994.

This dance is dedicated to the memory of my grandfather, Irv Hanson, and the times he took me trout fishing on the streams of north Idaho. The Royal Coachman was one of his favorite fishing flys.

This dance was inspired by the similarity between two great recreations of Scotland -- dancing and fishing. In Scottish country dancing, as in fishing, you start with a line wound into a reel. You cast, draw your leader up and cast again. At the end of the line is a fishhook, and, as so often happens, it all ends in knot.

Bars Description
1- 8
1st, 2nd and 3rd couples dance mirror reels of 3 on the sides. 1st couple start the reel by casting down and 3rd couple start by casting up. At the end of the reel, 1st couple stay facing out as they pass through first place, and flow into:
1st couple cast off for 4 bars; dance in (below 4th couple) to meet and dance up the center with nearer hands joined. End in first place, facing out.
1st couple cast off one place for two bars, while 2nd couple step up.
1st couple dance a "fishhook" (half figure of eight) - 1st man dance up between 2nd couple, while 1st lady dance down between 3rd couple.
1st couple half turn with the right hand up to first place, while 2nd couple cast off into second place.
1st and 2nd couples dance the Knot.

After the first time through the dance, 1st couple end the Knot facing out in second place, ready to start the reel. At the end of the second time through, 1st couple keep hold of left hands in the center and dance down to 4th place on bars 1 and 2 of the next phrase, while 4th couple cast up to start the reel.

Copyright 1994 by Michael Hanson. All rights reserved.

Music: The Port Townsend Jig, by Frank Ferrel. (The Port Townsend Jig is a Salmon lure.)


Flow where you can - first couple should flow continuously through the dance.

Bar 8 - At the end of the mirror reels, 3rd couple should dance out to place the "easy way" (don't make a long turn).

Bar 9-12 - The cast should be free and flowing, like a fishline curling out to land on the water. The dancers may go as far down as they like within the music, so long as they cover. They should dance in and meet below whatever couple they are at - typically they will meet below 4th couple.

Bar 24 - 1st couple should release hands from the half turn before starting the Knot. They should just pass through the side position at the end of bar 24, but keep momentum going to flow in again for the knot. This is easier if you don't dawdle on the "fishhook." 2nd couple should also flow from their cast into the knot; they should pass through the side position at the end of bar 24. Then both couples can cover flowing into the Knot.

Music Notes:

The Port Townsend Jig is recorded on Down East - Out West. Fiddle tunes of eastern Canada, played by Frank Ferrel, fiddle, and Gilles Losier, piano. Recorded at the 1980 Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, Port Townsend, Wash., USA. Voyager VRCS 329. [I have not heard this recording, so I do not know if it is suitable for dancing.]

It is published in 151 BRAND NEW OLD TIME FIDDLE TUNES (VOL. 1) by Pacific Northwest Fiddle Champions, edited by Vivian Williams. Published by Voyager Records. (ISBN 0-9631484-0-0)

I heard the tune on A Prairie Home Companion, where Frank Ferrel performed it in a set with "Hoochy Skirts and Flashers," and "The Salmon Boat Reel." [Hoochy Skirts, and Flashers are components used in Salmon lures.]