Our Man In Canada
September 10th, 2001

Great Canadian Flies
Nation's Black

By Arthur James Lingren

Nation's Black

When Rod Haig-Brown was writing TheWestern Angler, he visited Paul Lake and met the then-already-famous William Nation, angler's guide, and through 1938 and in '39 they corresponded, mostly on fly tying and pattern development. In an April 1938 letter to Haig-Brown, Nation, about this plain black fly, says:

"I enclose a very simple fly that I have worked out in imitation of the chironomids, slim black silk body, six strands of brown coast bucktail over and four under, #7 best, often take fish up to 8 pounds on it."

When The Western Angler was published in 1939, Haig-Brown, when discussing "Some Fauna of Interior Lake" on the insect "Order Diptera. Two-winged flies," says:

Of this group of aquatic two-winged flies, I believe the chironomids are the most important to the fly fishermen. They . . . come to the surface while the ice is still leaving the lakes, thus making the earliest fishing. They also bring the fish up well at other stages of the season, and are often sufficiently numerous to cause at least a degree of selective feeding. Generally speaking, fish take the emerging pupae rather than the fly . . . but if there is anything at all to be said for exact imitation in sunk flies for Kamloops trout, it would seem that this is the field that should offer the brightest prospects; success would mean extremely attractive fishing at times when there is now little more than the off chance of picking up the occasional fish . . .Nation's Black is, so far as I know, the only imitation that has been developed especially for Kamloops waters (Vol 1. pp. 115-116).

Haig-Brown gave sage advice about this area of fly development when he commented that this field offered 'bright prospects." Hoever, even though Nation developed British Columbia's, if not North America's, first chironomid pupa imitation, the development of chironomid fishing progressed slowly in British Columbia and elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest. It wasn't until the more educated, entomology-aware fly fishers of the 1960s and 1970s started developing new patterns and they discovered complementing fly-fishing techniques that chironomid fishing flourished. Now that a serious chironomid fly fishers have refined this fly fishing technique to a science, often with subsequent astounding catches, most stillwater enthusiasts depend upon chironomid for much of their early and late season fly-fishing catches.


Hook:  Number 7.

Body:  Black machine silk.

Throat:  Four hairs from a brown, coast, bucktail.

Wing:  Six hairs from a brown, coast, bucktail.

Originator:  Bill Nation.

Intended Use:  Wet fly for rainbow trout.

Location:  Paul Lake.
~ Arthur James Lingren

[Publisher's Note] Paul Nation was the originator of many other wet flies, including Nation's Blue, Nation's Fancy, Nation's Grey and Green Nymphs, Nation's Green Sedge, Nation's Red, Nation's Silver-tip, Nation's Silver-tipped Sedge and the Nation's Special.

Credits: From Fly Patterns of British Columbia by Arthur James Lingren. We thank Frank Amato Publications, Inc. for use permission!

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