This fly was an Ohio favorite. Hugh Hardy, a Columbus
native, writes the following in a letter to Mary Orvis
"From this time [June 15th] until the last of
September I never rig a cast without a Gov. Alvord as
one of them. I have had phenomenal luck with this fly
during the last three years. I remember, just this last
September, when I took in an hour's fishing six nice
black bass, and every one of them with the Gov. Alvord."
Mr. Hardy was not alone in a group of correspondents singing
the praises of the Governor Alvord as a first rate fly for
black bass (small-mouth to you and me). Throughout
Favorite Flies and Their Histories there are
enough references to the fly that I've decided that the next
time I fish the Olentangy River here in Columbus, I'm going
to give it a go myself. I'm not sure what the magical properties
are, but this fly appears to have some.
Not to be confused with the fly "The Governor," the Gov. Alvord
is always referred to as "Gov.". It was named after the Lieutenant
Governor of New York. The fly "The Governor," (shown on the right),
while similar in many respects, is listed in Favorite Flies
as a trout fly. Both flies sport the body of peacock herl, but The
Governor has a single wing of hen peacock, while the Gov. Alvord
has more of a "built wing" to use the salmon fly vernacular.
In addition, the Governor is a quite old English fly actually,
while the Gov. Alvord was developed here in the states. You might
say that the Gov. Alvord is something of an enhancement of the
Terry Hellekson in his book Fish Flies has dug
up an interesting article from a Syracuse N.Y. newspaper
recounting the exploits of Governor Alvord over the course
of one fishing season. This might just go down as one of the
greatest fish stories ever told, and reads as follows:
"Governor Alvord, who has returned to Syracuse from his summer
St. Lawrence home, thus triumphantly sums up his season's catch
of fish: Black bass, 2,309; rock bass, 1,762; pickerel, 373;
chub, 179; all other kinds, 35; total, 5,024. Greatest day's
fish, July 1 (fly) 333."
Sure, and I'm the governor of New York. Well, it seem to have
been a good fly anyway, and here's the recipe:
Gov. Alvord per J. Edson Leonard
Wing: Cinnamon over black
Body: Peacock herl, gold tip.
Governor per J. Edson Leonard
Credits: Favorite Flies and Their Histories
by Mary Orvis Marbury; Flies by J. Edson Leonard;
Fish Flies by Terry Hellekson. ~ EA
Wing: Dark brown turkey.
Body: Peacock herl, red floss tip.
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