Just like in ancient times where Jason and the Argonauts
searched for the golden fleece, generations of fly fishers
in all areas of the world have quested for the ultimate
fly. A search in vain probably, but as successes with
variation on a theme mount, thoughts about the ultimate fly
are conceived and flies dressed. Haig-Brown had many
successes in salmon fry pattern design during his first
20 years in British Columbia. The Silver Brown, an
imitation of the spring or chum salmon; the Humpback,
an imitation of the pink salmon; and two other baitfish
patterns, the Bullhead and Stickleback, are examples of
For his all-purpose fry imitation Haig-Brown recommends a
pale red or orange tail which both the Silver Lady and
Silver Brown sport. All of his fry and baitfish patterns,
except the stickleback, had silver bodies, his preference
for the all-purpose fry fly. A red hackle for the throat
because it added brightness and red seemed to attract fish.
A hairwing rather than the conventional feather-strip wing,
because hairwings had more movement; polar bear rather than
bucktail because it was more translucent and flexible; and
a variety of colours: orange, yellow, blue, green and
white perhaps to cover the many different light conditions
encountered in a day's fishing.
Haig-Brown by his own admission was not a very enthusiastic
fly tier and preferred simplicity in fly design. In a
January 28, 1951 letter to Tom Kerl of the Washington Fly
Fishing Club, about some sample fry and baitfish patterns
he sent the club, Haig-Brown says that "one merit these
flies have is they are all easy to tie, which is probably
why I use them so much."
In Fisherman's Spring (1951), he mentions
that if he could very the quanity of material in the wing
and the size of hook upon which the fly is dressed, he
wouldn't mind being limited to a single fry imitation.
The General Fry Imitation was his choice.
Recipe General Fry Imitation
Credits: Fly Patterns of British Columbia
by Arthur James Lingren, published by Frank Amato Publications.
Hook: Number 4 or 6 low-water salmon.
Tail: Small, pale, red or orange feather.
Body: Flat, silver tinsel.
Throat: A small red hackle.
Wing: Mixed, not layered, strands of dyed yellow,
orange, blue, green and some natural polar bear fur.
Originator: Roderick Haig-Brown.
Intended Use: Wet fly for cutthroat
Location: Campbell River.