I’ve been reading a good book called Rivers of Dreams by Donald Hustins, its about the evolution of fly-fishing and conservation of Atlantic Salmon in Newfoundland and Labrador. I’ll get back to that book at a later time, but in that book we learn how fly-fishing was accepted as a gentleman’s sport (or gentle-woman’s sport in the case of many early woman fly-fishers such as Emily Pinsent on the Salmonier River). Everyone played by the same set of rules, including travelling sailors on Navel ships that would pass through (and protect) our beautiful waters. This was great until certain individuals began to take advantage of a good thing, taking more than their fair share of fish (imagine catching hundreds of salmon by rod in a couple weeks, all in the name of sport of course), holding up for weeks or even months at a pool not allowing access to prime fishing areas because “I was here first”. The author even states that General Richard L. Dashwood would even tell all of his fishing companions and correspondents in the military what poor rivers Newfoundland had to offer, yet he would be back time and time again exploring new rivers in Newfoundland’s interior that have never been explored. He just didn’t want to share a good thing, even though there was more than enough to go around.
As in life, fly-fishers and fly-tiers sometimes keep little secrets too, a special fly for that particular river is kept hidden from prying eyes or the the exact location of that sunken log where fish always hide is never told to anyone. I was in a local fly shop in St. John’s a couple months ago buying this seasons issue of Spawner (and in the store Jillian decided that I needed hot-pink hackle), and I overheard a guy telling his friend about his preparations for a trip to the west coast, to an un-named river at a un-named location where the fish were rampant the year before. He would not tell his companion where the river was, but then proceeded to tell him of all the untagged salmon he caught there and “what a feed, day after day, sure we must of caught a couple dozen”. We all have our reasons for our secrets, even if sometimes we are our own worst enemy. Well I guess this will be my confession, my little secret will be over at the end of this post, I will share with the world the Punchin’ Wulff. If you read my last post I guess you understand what this fly means to me, it was a closely guarded secret (only 4 people including myself knew what it looked like), but I guess there is always a time for letting go of the past when beginning a new future.
The fly is quite simple actually, as its name suggests its tied similar to Lee Wulff’s series. In fact it is exactly as any other Wulff except that it is made from squirrel tail. Perhaps I am a creature of habit because all of my fishable dry flies are usually of Wulff design, guess when something works you stick with it. For those interested in the particulars, the hook is a Mustad 3399, black thread, squirrel tail for the tail, squirrel tail for the wings tied Wulff Style, and squirrel tail for the body. I usually keep trimming from squirrel in an altoids can, the body is simply dubbed using nothing more than squirrel and tying wax spun around thread. The body is then trimmed down, but not too clean, its best to leave it a bit uneven. Sorry that the picture isn’t clearer, but this is a picture from 2002 I had saved on my computer. We’re currently anchored in Placentia Bay waiting for a storm to pass so we can head out to Hibernia, so I have no way of taking a new picture (psssst……. the picture in the header of this blog is a Punchin’ Wulff too.
This fly is dedicated to my father who passed away much too soon, who never got a chance to take his Grand-daughters fishing, but will always be watching over them.
Clarence Forward 1951-2004
So here’s my little fly-tying secret exposed, now if we can only get people like that guy I overheard in the fly shop to stop his overfishing then we can ensure that my girls will get to spend a lifetime enjoying the gentleman’s gentle-woman’s sport for a lifetime like their Pop Forward enjoyed it.