I admit it. I don't get out enough. Never having been
a joiner, I've labored at my vise in relative isolation
and obscurity for many years now. This week things were
different though, and I was honored to accept and
invitation to speak to the Mohican Fly Fishers, in Mansfield,
Ohio. It was with some degree of trepidation that I accepted,
as I thought the group was made up primarily of steelheaders,
and really couldn't imaging their being the least bit
interested in much that I had to say. My fears were allayed
almost immediately as I began talking with some of the members
before we got started. Some flies were being passed around, and
lo and behold, they were trout flies, and very well tied trout
flies at that.
As I launched into my presentation, which was less a
presentation and more and off the cuff series of remarks
about some of my old books and flies that I brought that
pertained to my old books, I realized that I was among
kindred spirits, folks who had the same love of the
traditions of our pastime as did I. It was a great feeling,
to be among friends. I just might need to rethink living
as reclusively as I do. I was made an honorary member, and
hope to get back up there soon for a tying night.
One of the members seemed especially interested in the flies
I brought; a sixteen year old named Kelly Knutson. If Kelly's
enthusiasm is any indication, the future of our sport is
assured. He has only tied for eight months, and yet he
could name most of the materials in my full dress flies.
He proudly showed me his fishing flies and they were just
amazing. I gave Kelly some materials and wet flies, and
promised him I would send him a full dress salmon fly when
I got back. So Kelly, this week's fly is for you, and I'll
send it out the first of the week.
So what of this week's fly? Well, it was originally called
the "Poynder," and was first sold in Scotland. It is likely
that the originator was Mr. H. C. Cholmondeley Pennell, known
for the Pennell flies that are popular there. George M. Kelson
naturally takes credit for this fly in his epic
The Salmon Fly, but his version is so close to
the Poynder by Pennell that it is essentially the same fly.
He leaves out the Bustard in the original, and calls the
"dark claret" "claret." Other than that, it's essentially
Regardless of its origin, the fly is a complicated one,
especially in the wing. I searched around the web to see
how guys have handled all the materials named, and found
very few instances of this fly having even been attempted.
One attempt just left out about half the materials named,
a "variation" I guess. I've done my best, creating an under
wing with the Peacock, Amherst and golden pheasant, sides
with the pintail, teal, and gallina, and an over wing with
the rest. In any case, here's the recipe, and I'll let you
decide what to do with the wing:
Credits: The Salmon Fly by George Kelson;
Classic Salmon Flies by Mikael Frodin,
The Captain Salmon Fly
Tag: Silver twist and light blue silk.
Tail: A topping and chatterer.
Body: Two turns of light orange silk, two turns of
dark orange seal's fur, two turns of dark red-claret seal's
fur, and finished with dark blue seal's fur.
Ribbing: Silver tinsel.
Hackle: A white coch-y-bondhu dyed light red-claret,
from the orange silk.
Throat: Blue hackle and gallina.
Wings: Pintail, teal, gallina, peacock wing, Amhurst
(sic) pheasant, bustard and golden pheasant tail; swan dyed
light orange, dark orange, dark claret, and dark blue; with
two strips of mallard above and a topping.
Sides: Jungle cock
Horns: Blue macaw
Head: Black herl
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