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Old 05-26-2010, 11:05 AM
Jim Casada Jim Casada is offline
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Default Smokies Flies and Fly-Tying Traditions

One of the many joys of Troutfest was the opportunity to talk, at some length, with Walter Babb. A fair amount of our exchange revolved around traditional mountain trout patterns, and I thought those on the Forum with an interest in angling history or in knowing more about some traditional patterns might find an outgrowth of that conversation, along with a subsequent one I had with Marty Maxwell, a skilled fisherman and virtuoso of the vise from Robbinsville, might be of interest. Here, in no particular order, are some tidbits.

1. The wet fly commonly known as a "Speck" on the Tennessee side closely resembles a once immensely popular early season N. C. pattern which was called a Deerhair. The basic difference is that the latter features plenty of hackle at the top.

2. In my book, on page 61, you will find mention of a pattern once known as a Herby-Werby. Turns out that this was an early name for a Tennessee Wulff. I had never made the connection but Walter did and even had an explanation for the name.

3. The Fred Hall pattern known as an Adams Variant on the N. C. side is usually called an Adams Irresistible in Tennessee. Speaking of Hall, whom I knew fairly well when I was a youngster, he is generally credited with developing the Thunderhead and aforementioned Adams and possibly deserves much wider recogntion. Yet were the truth known, it seems likely that his wife, Allene, may have been the real innovator as a fly tier. Some index to this is given by a question I asked her after Fred had died and when she was only a year or two from her death. "Allene," I inquired as she completed an Adams Variant while I took photos, "who really developed this pattern, you or Fred?" She answered me without really giving an answer. "Jim," she replied, "some questions are best let unanswered."

4. Legendary Mark Cathey relied exclusively on one fly, a Grey Hackle Yellow.

5. There are a number of contemporary fly tiers--Roger Lowe, Kevin Howell, Marty Maxwell, and Bill Rolen are among those I know--who learned their craft from past generations and are gold mines of knowledge.

6. A great project someone needs to undertake would involve listing traditional mountain patterns, and there are scores if not hundreds of them, and trying to trace their history.

7. The various Wulff patterns were being tied in the Smokies well before Lee Wulff's name was attached to them. The Royal Wulff was just known as a Hairwing Coachman and the Tennessee Wulff, as has been noted, was a Herby-Werby.

That's enough for now, and I just hope others are as fascinated by this aspect of angling history as yours truly (and I don't even tie flies!).

Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com
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Old 05-26-2010, 11:43 AM
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Grannyknot Grannyknot is online now
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Good stuff Jim!
I'm a sucker for history....especially anything pertaining to southern appalachia.

That reminds me...we had an extensive thread at one time that contained book reviews & suggestions. I've looked through nearly every thread in the smoky mountain fishing forum, but haven't been able to find it. Does anyone else think they can drag this one back out of the depths??
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Old 05-26-2010, 12:49 PM
FRW FRW is offline
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It would be even neater if someone would put together a history of these flies along with pictures of each one. Like you I am a sucker for the history of fly fishing and of the Mountains.
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Old 05-26-2010, 07:07 PM
Jim Casada Jim Casada is offline
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FRW--Both Roger Lowe and Kevin Howell have come out with slender "recipe" books, but both works, while first-rate, focus more on how to tie than on historical information.
I know Hugh Hartsell is busy on a book, and he has both the background and fly-tying expertise to do a book like this (although I don't know that this is what he has in the works).
Such an effort would require considerable research, most of it in the form of talking with a bunch of old-timers and gleaning from their memories of fly tyers who are now fishing where there are always hatches and where big trout come to the fly with a will.
There's some material in print, much of which I touch on in the chapter on "Flies" in my book, but far more exists through oral history.
I for one would herald the publication of such a book with great joy.
Jim Casada
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Old 05-26-2010, 08:52 PM
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GrouseMan77 GrouseMan77 is offline
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Jim - maybe this could be a topic for the LR Journal? I would really like to see some of these flies and their history preserved somehow. That would be a great book project for someone to take up.
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Old 05-26-2010, 11:21 PM
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fly fisherman DK fly fisherman DK is offline
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I would also love to see someone attempt to put something together like this, because I too like the flies that were established in the southeast specifically for that area.
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