Our Man In Canada
January 16th, 2006

Classics – A Heritage Not Lost
By Chris Chin, Jonquiere Quebec

It's finally stopped snowing, the (artificial) Christmas tree is packed away, there's no more turkey in the 'fridge, finally some time to sit back and tie some flies. I always start the "tying season" with the same fly. Maybe because it's so simple, maybe because it's one of the only flies I use.

Whatever the reason, while I'm going through the motions, I often have the same reflection on things.

Funny how each generation thinks that their "new" trend is totally unique to humanity.

Take music for example, folks always think that some new tune or composition is wonderfully fresh and completely revolutionary. Sorry, (in my honest opinion) all music is "simply" a re-mix 'n match of a relatively few fundamental passages.

I used to sit in for some groups (1st or 2nd trombone) and would often have to sight read right out of the gate on opening night. Not really a problem as I'm more a technician than a creative type. The same thing happened a while back when I was looking for the trout dry fly for my home waters.

I'd been fishing the river for several years and was looking for a nice, easy to tie, easy to fish, dry. Traditional dries on the Ste-Marguerite for sea run brookies are giant dries. Bombers, Birds, bugs. Anything smaller than a #10 is considered too small. Anglers here use these 'cause you don't need to change flies when you switch from salmon to trout, and they do produce some pretty spectacular results.

Skated, skittered, popped or swung, for generations, these B-52 sized flies have adorned the vests of many a fly fisher over here.

Since I like to sit back and observe quite a lot, I noticed that when folks fished these flies, they would get quite a few refusals or just down right flush the pool. I knew I'd like to find a more subtle offering.

I also knew I'd probably never invent a fly that had never been tied before, so I hunted around in the library for a recipe fitting my needs. All I was looking for was a brown hackle (that's all I have in decent dry hackles), a simple body and no tail. I found the Red Tag.

To find out a bit more about this unassuming fly, you can check out Alan Shepherd's article on it in the Old Flies section.

Mine have a bit less hackle and the body is not as full, but the rest is the same.

I can also remember the first time I tied some of these up and hit the river. A friend wanted to try the trout in the upper reaches of the river. Having recently been through a tough divorce, Martial was getting into fly fishing with gusto.

We arrived at the Warden's camp on the 5B before sun up and strung up by flashlight. I dug around in my pockets for the dry box and pulled a brand spankin' new #16 Red Tag. I had also tied up new leaders the night before and secured these to our lines, topping them off with 2-3 lb. tippets.

I set up with Martial in the deep pool and showed him how to get a looong slow dead drift through the pod of bruisers sitting out under the drop off.

"Just like on TV," the very first drifts got nice hits.

So we quickly smashed down the barbs on the flies.

After all, with trout like this, one each is enough for supper

Martial M. with his very first trout on a dry fly

Life doesn't get any better than this. A full cooler of grub, hot coffee in the percolator, sunshine and dry flies. ~ Chris

About Chris:

Chris Chin is originally from Kamloops, British Columbia. He has been fly fishing on and off ever since he was 10 years old. Chris became serious about the sport within the last 10 years.

"I'm a forest engineer by day and part time guide on the Ste-Marguerite River here in central Quebec. I've been fishing this river for about 10 years now and started guiding about 5 years ago when the local guide's association sort of stopped functioning."

Chris guides mostly for sea run brook trout and about 30% of the time for Atlantic Salmon. "I often don't even charge service fees, as I'm more interested in promoting the river than making cash. I like to get new comers to realize that salmon fishing is REALLY for anyone who cares to try it. Tradition around here makes some of the old clan see Salmon fishing as a sport for the rich. Today our shore lunches are less on the cucumber sandwich side and more toward chicken pot pie and Jack Daniel's."

Chris is 42 years old as of this writing. He is of Chinese origin although his parents were born and raised in Jamaica. He has a girlfriend, Renée. "She and her 12 year old son Vincent started fly fishing with me in October 2002."

To learn more about the Ste-Marguerite River, visit Christopher's website http://pages.videotron.com/fcch/. ~ Christopher Chin

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