Great Canadian Flies
By Arthur James Lingren
From Fly Patterns of British Columbia, Published
by Frank Amato Publications.
We appreciate use permission.
W.F. Pochin in Angling and Hunting in British Columbia
(1946) writes about one of British Columbia's less celebrated fish,
the cutthroat, and says:
"The Harrison Cutthroat, while not one of the largest of game
fishes, is one of the sportiest. Three pounders have been taken,
but he rarely obtains that weight. However, a good day's catch
will include fish up to and over two pounds. Best of all he rises
freely to flies and on the table is unsurpassed...
This British sea-trout pattern, sold by the firm of Cumming's &
Co., was introduced in the late 1920's to British Columbia's
Harrison River cutthroat by the firm's Vancouver representative
Walter Burgess. According to Martin Tolley in his article on
the the Cumming's Fancy in the April, 1968 issue of Northwest
The Harrison Cutthroat is ever in search of salmon fry, upon
which he feeds, and the best flies are silver bodied. Cumming's
Fancy has always been a favourite...(pp. 41-42)."
"After the Harrison successes Burgess scored again when he used
the fly in salt water for the first time. That event took place
at the mouth of the Capilano and thereafter his Fancy was firmly
established in local favour."
That the fly remained in use till this day is a testimonial to
its effectiveness, but keeping a fly's use alive is often the
result of certain individual fly fisherman and, in the Fancy's
case, John Massey deserves some of the credit. About Massey's
use, Tolley's says:
"Still a winner for use off the beaches, its most assidous fan
is definitely John Massely (Massey). John hooked fish after
fish with the Cummings one day, and two other anglers closed
in for a share of the fun. Though fishing shoulder to shoulder
the others never had a touch and John kept right on catching
cutthroat, calmly indifferent to the competition. It has been
Massey's Fancy ever since."
Lee Richardson was another Fancy fancier and his book, Lee
Richardson's B.C. (1978) says:
"We found the trout schooled up in a sheltered cove near
Reifel's cabin and immediately began taking fish. It was the
first time I had ever used the Cumming's Fancy, though later
I was to use nothing else. The trout came up out of deep water,
often three or four at a time...and the Indian was hard pressed
to net one before another was brought alongside.(p. 23).
Although the Cumming's Fancy originated in Great Britain, in
examining the many British Angling books in my collection, I
have not found any reference to a fly by this name or that
matches its description. With its adoption by British Columbian
cutthroat fishers and its near three-quarter-century use here,
the fly has earned a place in British Columbia's fly fisher's boxes
and is rooted here to stay.
Hook: Number 6 to 8.
Credits: From Fly Patterns of British Columbia
by Arthur James Lingren. We thank
Frank Amato Publications, Inc. for use permission!
Tail: A golden pheasant crest feather.
Body: Flat, silver tinsel.
Rib: Fine oval, silver tinsel.
Throat: Brown hackle.
Wing: Lightly mottled turkey with golden pheasant
crest feather overall.
Originator: Walter Burgess.
Intended Use: Wet fly for cutthroat trout.
Location: Harrison River.
~ Arthur James Lingren
Our Man In Canada Archives