Check out my latest blog!
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.