Our Man In Canada
December 3rd, 2001

Great Canadian Flies
Golden Girl

Golden Girl

By Arthur James Lingren
From Fly Patterns of British Columbia, Published by Frank Amato Publications. We appreciate use permission.

During World War II, while Haig-Brown was away from steelhead fishing, his thoughts repeatedly turned to what he considered to be the make-up of the ideal winter steelhead fly pattern. Believing that winter fish had a preference for reds and oranges, he envisioned a fur, feather and tinsel combination much simpler than, but similar to, the more elaborately dressed full-feather winged Atlantic salmon flies such as the celebrated Durham Ranger, Red Ranger, William Rufus, President, and the Red Sandy. All of these patterns, with the exception of the Red Sandy, utilized large golden pheasant tippet feathers for wings. The Red Sandy too had whole-feather wings, but not golden pheasant tippet, instead its brilliant red-orange winging consisted mainly of large Indian crow feathers.

The pattern Haig-Brown developed was a combination of the slim-bodies Red Sandy and the golden pheasant tippet-winged Durham Ranger without many of the frills. In an 18 May 1949 letter to Al McClane of Field & Stream magazine, Haid-Brown says that "the Golden Girl - the one with tippets - is the final dressing and has proved itself many times for winter steelhead."

Haid-Brown remained loyal to this dressing but with one slight alternation: he substituted a golden pheasant crest feather, often referred to as a topping, for the Indian crow tail

Almost two years later, in a January 1951 letter to a Seattle fisherman, Haig-Brown says that the Golden Girl "is primarily a winter steelhead fly, in sizes 2/0 to 2" and that he has "also taken cutthroats and summer steelehad on it in sizes down to No.8."

The Golden Girl is an attractive pattern that catches the eye of both the fly fisher and the fish. It is one of the oldies that has survived the passage of time and can be found in fly shops, particularly in the Campbell River area.


Hook:  Number 2/0 to 8.

Tail:  A small Indian crow feather.

Body:  Flat, gold tinsel.

Throat:  Yellow hackle.

Wing:  Two large golden pheasant tippet feathers back to back, enclosing orange polar bear fur with a golden pheasant topping overall.

Originator:  Roderick Haig-Brown.

Intended Use:  Wet fly for winter steelhead.

Location:  Campbell River, B.C. Canada.
~ Arthur James Lingren

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

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