As I mentioned in the last article, there is another
version of the Colonel Bates fly, created by Jimmy
Younger of Thorthowald, Dumfries, Scotland. Jimmy
Younger came by his craft quite honestly, not unlike
many of the wonderful tiers of Scotland and Ireland.
His father was a ghillie on the rivers Tweed, Conon,
Naver, Kirkaig, and the Inver. He got Jimmy a job as
an apprentice tier, working in Allcock's old building
under terrible conditions. John French Muir took him
under his wing, and taught him to tie salmon flies. In
those days, full dress flies were still the norm.
Ultimately, Jimmy moved to Glasgow, tied flies there,
and played drums at night until his back got bad. He
and his wife Gloria then moved to Helmsdale, where he
met Megan Boyd through his wife, who shared Megan's
passion for country dancing. There he managed a fly
tying factory, Sutherland Fly. He stopped by Megan's
quite often to tie with her, and filled orders that
she couldn't handle herself at busy times.
Ultimately Jimmy was to manage a factory in Hong Kong,
among others. Along the way he met Joe Bates, who had
been guided by his father. He offered to create a fly
for him, and Joe Bates gave him the Colonel Bates fly
that Carrie Stevens had created, and suggested he
pattern a fly after that. Jimmy Younger did just that,
creating the fly shown above. It is very similar, having
essentially the same wing, tag, tail and body, with some
full dress frills thrown in for good measure.
I have great admiration for the professional tiers who
are born of a great tradition and spend countless hours
perfecting their craft over years. There is much to be
learned through a serious study of their work, and
these are tiers to be revered.
Here's the recipe for the Colonel Bates Salmon fly:
Tag: Fine oval tinsel and yellow floss silk.
Credits: The Atlantic Salmon Fly by
Judith Dunham; Carrie Stevens by Graydon R.
Hilyard; Fishing Atlantic Salmon, the Flies and the
Patterns by Joseph D. Bates, Pamela Bates Richards,
Bob Warren; Mikes Fly Pages (Mike Boyer) at
Tail: Golden pheasant crest, over which are two
small strips of red goose and kingfisher.
Butt: Scarlet wool.
Body: Flat silver tinsel.
Ribbing: Oval Silver Tinsel.
Throat: Natural red (brown) hackle, followed
by guinea fowl hackle.
Wing: Four golden yellow saddle hackles, with a
white saddle hackle on each side half as long as the yellow.
Over this on each side is a fairly wide strip of a yellow
Swan wing feather with thin strips of red swan wing
feather married to it, top and bottom. Over this is a
wide strip of barred Mandarin Duck.
Topping: Golden pheasant crest.
Shoulders: Jungle Cock.
Head: black, with red center band.
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