This one is harder than it looks. More difficult to tie
than you would first think looking at this rather unassuming
little fly. The reason is that everything is exposed here.
The only thing that would make this fly even more difficult
is a floss body. Then it would be diabolical. You see, there
is no butt on this fly to hide the tie-in point for the ribbing,
tail, and tail veiling. In addition there are no cheeks,
shoulders, or sides to hide wing flaws created by the crushing
of the fibers when you tie in. Some of these less complicated
flies can fool you, and this is one.
Francis Francis has this to say about the Namson:
"There is not a prettier body made than the Namson boasts of.
It is a great favourite (sic) of mine."
Well, all right, prettier than the Black Dog? Prettier
than the Jock Scott? Prettier than the Shannon? I think
not, but then again I'm not Francis Francis, who for all
I know actually fished this fly on the Namson River in
Norway. Perhaps an exceedingly good catch of large salmon
colored his judgement. The entire fly, as a whole, does
have a beauty to it, but it's a beauty born of "fishiness"
I think. The slender, sleek look does look fishy, at least
Kelson has a version of this fly that I won't even discuss,
it's another fly all together.
One very difficult material to obtain for the Namson is
the bittern in the wing. So difficult that I didn't even
try. I noted that Mikael Frodin, in his book, lists the
pattern as Francis Francis' pattern, but then instead
of bittern wing uses "English bustard" in the wing, which
looks just like florican bustard. So I used a florican sub
on my fly. Could I find some bittern wing if I looked hard
enough? Perhaps. Would it be an instant CITES violation?
You bet. Seriously, I'm only guessing here. I've never
seen bittern feathers of any kind listed on any fly
materials page anywhere, but somebody might have it.
Here is the recipe from Francis Francis' book A Book
on Angling. You handle the bittern any way you want.
Tag: Silver twist.
Tail: One topping, some red parrot, and pintail sprigs.
Body: Roughish, two turns of bright yellow pig's wool
merged into deep orange, and that into medium red-claret, and
that again into bright medium (or inclining to darkish) blue;
the upper part of the claret and the blue tied in roughly for
picking out, the blue being longest.
Ribs: Silver tinsel with gold thread beside it.
Shoulder: A longish black hackle.
Wings: Slips of dark turkey, bright bustard, bittern
wing, red, blue and greenish-yellow dyed swan.
Credits: A Book on Angling by Francis Francis;
Classic Salmon Flies by Mikael Frodin
I started fly fishing as a teen in and around my hometown
of Plattsburgh, New York, primarily on the Saranac River.
I started tying flies almost immediately and spent hours
with library books written by Ray Bergman, Art Lee, and
A. J. McClane. Almost from the beginning I liked tying
just as much as I liked fishing and spent considerable
time at the vise creating hideous monstrosities that
somehow caught fish anyway. Then one day I came upon a
group of flies that had been put out at a local drug store
that had been tied by Francis Betters of Wilmington, N.Y.
My life changed that day and so did my flies, dramatically.
Even though I never met Fran back then, I've always
considered him to be one of my biggest influences.
I had a career in music for twenty years or so and didn't
fish much, though I did fish at times. The band I was with
had its fifteen seconds of fame when we were asked to be in
John Mellencamp's movie "Falling From Grace." I am the
keyboard player on the right in the country club scene in
the middle of the movie. Don't blink. It's on HBO all the
time. We got to meet big Hollywood stars and record in John's
studio. It was a blast.
So how did I wind up contributing to the Just Old Flies
column on FAOL? I'm not sure, it was something that I simply
wanted very badly to do, and they let me. Many of the old flies
take me back to the Adirondacs and my youth, and I guess I get
to relive some of it through the column. I've spent many happy
hours fishing and tying over the years, and tying these flies
brings back memories of great days on the water, and intense
hours spent looking at the flies in the fly plates in the old
books and trying to get my flies to look like them. And now,
here I am, still doing that to this day. ~ EA