View Full Version : can anyone add to this?

Don Kirk
10-30-2011, 07:29 AM
Can anyone add to this, or have comments on it, especially in terms of Peck inventing the Tellico Nymph, or does anyone have any of the 60 or so trout flies Peck tied? I am in search to the still missing parts to this mystery. There remains many unanswered for those who seek a truly accurate account of the history of fly-fishing for in the Smoky Mountains. I only have snippets about Ozark Ripley's relatively short tenure in ET and his visits to park waters.

Ozark Ripley, one of the best known outdoor writers of the early 1900s who had moved from Missouri to Chattanooga in the 1930s. Ozark Ripley was the colorful pen name for John Baptiste de Macklot Thompson (generally referred to as John B. Thompson), who was educated in France prior to World War One. Jack London suggested that he come up with a catchy pen name, which apparently he a good job.

An avid fly-fisherman, Ripley lived in east Tennessee where he continued his passion for float fishing for smallmouth bass he had engaged in while operating out of the Ozarks. Perhaps the most interesting of all Smoky Mountains fly-fishing lore lies in this man and his relationships with Ernest Peckingpaugh. Many fly-fishing historians credit the invention of the popping bug to Ernest H. Peckinpaugh of Chattanooga, Tennessee, prior to World War I. The legend of Peckinpaugh's invention was recounted by Robert Page Lincoln (Abe’s boy) in 1952:

To E. H. Peckinpaugh, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, belongs the honor of having invented the cork-bodied bass bug. . . . According to Peckinpaugh he had accidentally dropped a cork bottle stopper on the stream which he was fishing and as it floated away with the current he was suddenly struck with the idea of making a floating bass bug out of cork. As a result he ran the stem of a hook through a cork . . . . Instead of feathers he used a pinch or two of bucktail hair, tying in the thatch at the head of the fly as it were. While this initial lure was quite crude, Peckinpaugh was amazed at the fish that it took . . . . All this took place in the year 1907.

Quite the marketer, Peckinpaugh entered into agreements with well known anglers of the 1900s to have their names associated with special bugs and flies in his diverse line. Along with Ozark Ripley, the list includes Zane Grey and Dr. Henshall. Here’s where the story gets interesting though. Long before migrating to Chattanooga or meeting Ernest Pechinpaugh, Ripley had been in contact with none other than Theodore Gordon, the Fly Father. According to Ozark’s published remarks, in a letter Gordon wrote to him in 1903 indicated that the Wizard of the Neversink was making dressing popping bugs prior to this time

No Hackle
10-30-2011, 11:00 AM
Don as far as the tellico is concerned I would contact Walter Babb. He should have some insight for you. You could get his info through Little River outfitters.

Don Kirk
10-30-2011, 11:16 AM
A couple of months back I spoke with Walter. He is not certain about the origins of the Tellico Nymph, but like me, he has seen old ones still attached to the Peckingbaugh cards onto which they were sold. This winter I plan to visit him about this and couple other tying questions he certainly is knowledgeable about.
Back in those days no one cared much about keeping track of such things. The details of the Big O/Tennessee Shad war during the 1970s is infinitely more chronicled. When I get time I will post of picture of the contents of Kephart’s tacklebox and flies. I examined them about this time last year. It is a interesting peek.

The Principal
10-30-2011, 08:32 PM
Very interesting! I have heard the Popper and Peckingbaugh story before somewhere.