Welcome to Just Old Flies

Welcome to 'just old flies,' a section of methods and flies that used-to-be. These flies were tied with the only materials available. Long before the advent of 'modern' tying materials, they were created and improved upon at a far slower pace than todays modern counterparts; limited by materials available and the tiers imagination.

Once long gone, there existed a 'fraternity' of anglers who felt an obligation to use only the 'standard' patterns of the day. We hope to bring a bit of nostalgia to these pages and to you. And sometimes what you find here will not always be about fishing. Perhaps you will enjoy them. Perhaps you will fish the flies. Perhaps?

Part One hundred fifty-five

Nation's Special

Nation's Special

By Arthur James Lingren

Developed in the 1920s for Paul Lake trout, this is one of Bill Nation's most effective patterns. About the wing on the special, National recommended strips of grey mottled turkey feather be used and that the angler match the Special's wing mottle to that of the sedge or dun hatching. Bruce Hutchison in the chapter titled "For Anglers Only" in his book, The Fraser (1950), paid homage to Bill Nation and Nation's Special when he wrote:

The Kamloops country was long the undisputed kingdom of Bill Nation. That extraordinary man, who knew trout better than any other British Columbian and had spent his life stugying the insect life on which trout feed, chose to call himself a guide. Careless of fame or money, he would row you around Paul Lake, his favourite, or any other lake you fancied for a few dollars a day. After an hour's fishing with him the richest American tycoon was subdued and humble in this shy man's presence. Beside his life of innocence and content, the perfect companionship of man and nature, your own life suddenly appeared for the failure it was. Adn what could you say for your skill when he could cast a fly and pierce the tail of any fish you pointed out among the autumn salmon horde? . . .

His memorial is the Nation Special, the fly he constructed out of his unequaled knowledge of insect life and the appetite of the Kamloops trout. No fisherman can afford to be without Bill's masterpiece. (pp. 324 - 325)

A most glowing tribute indeed. In 1936 Roderick Haig-Browng visited Paul Lake and Echo Lodge, during his research for the Western Angler, published in 1939, and in that publication prodived additional and owner of the Governor's Table Camps of Hartland, New Brunswick. First testimonials to the effectiveness of Nation's Special. In his chapter on tackle and in his discussion of fly patterns for interior use, Haig-Brown examined the Honour Book kept by lodge owner, J. Arthur Schott. Of the 119 large trout between 3 1/2 to 7 3/4 pounds, 46 were deceived by a Nation's Special. There were 13 other patterns in the group, the closest rival to Nation's Special was the Jock Scott. With nine fish, it came in a poor second.

Nation's Special

    Hook: Number 4 to 8.

    Tail: Six strands from a golden pheasant tippet feather.

    Body: Rear third of flat silver tinsel; front two thirds of black floss.

    Rib: Oval silver tinsel.

    Throat: Speckled guinea fowl.

    Wing: Mottled grey turkey, enclosing a few strands from a golden pheasant tippet feather.

    Sides: Jungle cock.

    Originator: Bill Nelson.

    Intended Use: Wet fly for rainbow trout.

    Location: Paul Lake [Kamloops region, British Columbia, Canada].

~ Arthur James Lingren

Credits: From Fly Patterns of British Columbia, Published by Frank Amato Publications.

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