Join NH Fish and Game’s Let’s Go Fishing Program at the NH Fly Fishing Show on February 24, 2018 as we offer two free fly tying programs.
From 10-11:30 am fly tying instructor Scott Biron will offer free a beginner tying class. All materials, tools and equipment will be supplied. New tyers or beginners will learn to tie a soft hackle fly. Registration is required and spots are limited. Registration is online at:
https://nhfishandgame.com/EventWeb/Event/ReservedEvents use the code NHFF1
From 1-2:30 pm fly tying instructor Scott Biron will offer free a intermediate tying class. All materials, tools and equipment will be supplied. Intermediate tyers with 2 or more years of experience will learn how to tie an effective NH fly pattern you can use this spring. Registration is required and spots are limited. Registration is online at:
https://nhfishandgame.com/EventWeb/Event/ReservedEvents use the code NHFF2
For more information on the show go to http://www.merrimacktu.org/fly-fish-new-hampshire-show-2017/
I was visiting with a friend an few weeks back and he has a great deal of NH fishing experience. We were discussing Lake Sunapee, which is basically in my back yard. It's a lake I drive by a lot and always say to myself......I need to fish that lake at ice out this year. Determined to do it I began poking around at fly patterns that might work. My friend said he knew people who fish a Purple Smelt back in the day and the results were good. In my research I came upon Ora Smith's Purple Smelt Pattern in both a tandem and on a single streamer hook.
I never met Ora but I have researched him and spoked to loads of folks who knew him. My guess is he was a practice tyer and used materials that he could get locally. One thing that he used a lot of was teal flank feathers for cheeks on streamers. Last year I tied a load of his patterns and had great results with many that had teal cheeks.
We will give it a try on Lake Sunapee this spring and report back.
Ora Smith was one of the first NH fly tyers I studied under the NH Traditional Arts Grant in 2017. There has been a lot written about him and he had hundreds of patterns. I would consider him a Monadnock fly tyer being based in Keene, NH. Many of his patterns were specifically tied for waterbodies in the Monadnock region. Many of his patterns were named for the person he tied them for and sadly most have faded away. A percentage of his flies became and remain popular state wide. Years ago I was tying his Canopache pattern at the Fly Fishing Show and my friend Ron Sowa came by. He shared this story about the fly. There were some camps in Wolfeboro, NH called the Canopache Camps. Ora trolled the fly along the shoreline where the camps were and the results were very good.....and that is how fly got it's name. The camps are no longer there but Canopache Road marks their spot. I could not tie these flies fast enough at the show and get the eyes painted on them. Customers were scooping them up in handfuls.
As part of the grant I researched most of his fly patterns and tied many at area shows. As with many patterns they evolved as materials became too expensive or newer materials became available. I challenged myself to tie a large number of his lesser known patterns and also fish them. Interestingly, almost all of them caught fish.
The video that is below is from a tape that my friend Gary Cutter took in 1998. Ora discusses how he began fly tying, the price of materials, the Maynard Marvel fly and you see two customers at his house buying flies.
There is something about this fly pattern that makes it both fun to tie and very effective to fish. It's another pattern that was developed by Jim Warner to be fished in Lake Winnipesaukee......and yes there is a story behind it.
The fly was created at the request of George and Helen Babb. They were from Alton Bay and as best as I can figure out may have owned a shop that amoung other things sold flies. The story goes that they ask Jim to tie them a Grey Ghost but to modify it by adding three primary colors. The colors were, blue, red and yellow bucktail and as the fly was fished they would mix up a bit which made the pattern highly effective.
Years ago I saw a video of Jim tying a fly and he shared a story about some customer coming in his shop and looking at the board of Grey Ghosts for sale. He went on to say the guy chose the most perfect Grey Ghost, took it out of the package, placed it on the floor and ground the fly into the floor with his foot. Then he held the up the fly and proclaimed "now thats a Grey Ghost". They guy was no more than 20 yards off the dock trolling when he caught a salmon.
The underlying point to this story and the Babbs Ghost is that the more beat up, mixed up a fly looks often contributes to its effectiveness. I also feel the the combination of the three colors of bucktail blend to give off a real smelt like color.
Babbs Ghost Jim Warner Pattern
Hook: 10X Streamer hook in 2, 4 or 6
Tag: Silver mylar
Body: Black floss 4 strands
Rib: Silver mylar #14 12 wraps
Belly: Sparse white bucktail as long as the wing
Wing: First layer--sparse blue bucktail
Second layer--sparse red bucktail
Third layer--sparse yellow bucktail
Topped with 4 blue dun saddle hackles
Shoulder: Silver pheasant
Cheeks: Jungle cock
Tying notes: I've seen the bucktail tied over peacock herl. The fly does out really nice if you tie the black floss in at the head using two strands and then wrap back and then forward doubling it and giving you the four strands.
Happy New Year