Sometimes the name and story behind a fly are as interesting as
the fly itself. The naming of this fly, Family Secret, reveals much
about it's originator, as perhaps the same of ourselves.
From Streamer Fly Tying & Fishing by Joseph D.
Bates, Jr., "Originated by Dr. Edgar Burke, of Jersey City, New Jersey,
who wrote to the author" "This is really a modification of the Dr. Burke
Streamer and in my own opinion is a more universally useful pattern.
First used in 1928 for landlocked salmon, it proved spectacularly successful
and the best catches of big salmon and trout I have ever made were due to it.
It is a good pattern for virtually all fresh water game fish, bass included, and it
is particularly effective for large brown trout."
"In explanation of its name, Dr. Burke says: "During a sterile spell on the
upper Kennabago River (in Maine), when none of the rods then on the
stream had been doing anything for days, I had enjoyed excellent fishing.
I was fishing the famous Island Pool when another angler, accompanied
by his guide, appeared on the footpath, obviously much disappointed to
find the pool already occupied. The guide, whom I knew well, called out
to me, 'Do you mind if we watch you fish for a while, Doctor?' I, of course,
assented. I was taking one good fish after another. This, in view of the
prevailing non-productiveness of the river, was too much for the guide.
Unable to contain himself, he yelled out, 'For Pete's sake, Doctor, why
fly are you using?' In a bantering tone I called back, 'That's a family
secret, Jim!' Whereupon my own guide, Dick Grant, seized my arm and
said, "There's the name for your fly!' and so it has been, ever
since. The little incident narrated above, to the best of my recollection,
was in 1928."
Family Secret (as dressed by the originator)
Tail: Between ten and twenty peacock sword fibers, depending
on size of hook. The tail is long and very bunchy.
Body: Medium flat silver tinsel. The body is somewhat thicker than
normal since it must be built up to compensate for the bulge of the tail.
Ribbing: Narrow oval silver tinsel.
Throat: A bunch of guinea hen hackle fibers, rather thick and long.
Wing: Four white saddle hackles.
Cheeks: Jungle cock.
Credits: Photo from Forgotten Flies
by Paul Schmookler and Ingrid V. Sills, published by the
Complete Sportsman. Text and recipe from: Streamer Fly Tying & Fishing
by Joseph D. Bates, Jr., published by Stackpole Books.