Our Man In Canada
March 29th, 2004

Famous British Columbia
Fly-Fishing Waters
By Art Lingren

The Bill Nation Kamloops Area Lakes, Part 3

Next to Bill Nation, Jack Shaw stands tall as a master of the sport and no work about fly-fishing the lakes around Kamloops would be complete without something about this legendary fly-fisher. When Jack went fishing it seems that trout, realizing their fate and Shaw's skills as a fly-fisher and fly dresser, lined up waiting their turn to be caught on Shaw-dressed fly patterns. When less-skilled fishers experience good catches, they can be attributed more to luck, however, consistent good catches don't just happen. Skill, knowledge, experience, and observation, with a little luck thrown in, are traits possessed by the great fly-fishers.

Montreal-born Shaw moved to Burnaby at age nine in 1925 and, like most youngsters with a yen for the outdoors and fishing, started his angling career with bait and hand-line fishing Burnaby's south-slope creeks and the sea around Burrard Inlet, False Creek, and English Bay. Those early day catches consisted of small 8- to-10-inch rainbow trout, bullheads, rock cod and flounder.

In 1940, Shaw moved to Kamloops and Jack started his lake fishing career. In those early Kamloops years, Shaw relied on his bait-fishing background and used gang troll and worm, but soon, he realized the errors of his ways and his fly-fishing career was born.

Paul Lake

Shaw was irritated by the existing trout patterns with names that didn't identify what insect they represented. In the early 1950s, Shaw developed his own patterns and named them after the creatures they represented. Later, when he became allergic to dust from his automobile body-shop vocation, his love of fishing proved the provider when he took a fly-fishing representative and fly-tyer position in a local sporting-goods store. The store owner persuaded Jack to tie some of his flies and offer them for sale, but the Shaw-invented wingless patterns didn't sell. Being an observer of nature, Shaw, an innovative fly tyer, developed patterns to represent the insects on which fish fed. He raised the insects in an aquarium and from macro photographs dressed his imitations. However, they didn't look like the normal winged-fly patterns of the day, and fishermen are extremely conservative and not quick to change unless convinced otherwise. Jack was determined to persuade them otherwise.

Jack's concern about wingless, more-representative flies and the resolve to persuade fishermen to use his style of pattern has been well illustrated in previous writings. However, as a fly-fishing/tying teacher, Shaw did convince many of them otherwise and, although some of those winged standards are still popular, all lake fishermen fly inventory include non-winged Shaw-type patterns.

Jack Shaw's book, Fly Fish the Trout Lakes, came out in 1976, it detailed the equipment and techniques for fishing the Kamloops area. However, Shaw showed, by careful trimming of hackle or wing, how to convert many of the standard-of-the-day patterns into more life-like imitations of the insects on which fish fed. Reprinted many times it has become a standard reference for anglers fishing the Interior.

Jack's second book, Tying Flies For Trophy Trout was published in 1992. In it he utilizes his vast reservoir of skill and knowledge — obtained from nearly 70 years of fishing, 50 years of fly-fishing, 40 years of fly tying, and many years as a fly-fishing/fly-tying teacher and sales representative—to give present and future generations of anglers sound advice to catch those prized trophy Kamloops rainbow trout. Jack passed away on February 2, 2000. Through his writing and his teaching he contributed greatly to the lore of Interior fly-fishing. ~ Art Lingren

Continued next time.

Credits: From Famous British Columbia Fly-Fishing Waters, published by Frank Amato Publications. We appreciate use permission.

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