Jack Shaw: The Father of Chironomid Fishing
By Robert H. Jones
From Fly Fishing Canada, Published by Johnson Borman Publishers
The inventor's name appearing most often in the fly patterns
chapter [in the book] is Jack Shaw; however, nine patterns represent
but a few of those developed by the man many consider to be the
"father of chironomid fishing."
Born in 1916 in Montreal, Quebec, Jack was 9 years old when his parents
moved to Burnaby, British Columbis, where his lifelong passion for
fishing began in the local creeks. He left school at age 11 and
entered the work force, but continued fishing whenever possible.
After moving to Kamloops in 1940, Jack met Dorothy Lawrence and they
married in 1942. He also discovered fly fishing, which led to tying
flies. He quickly determined that imitative patterns produced more
consistent results than attractor patterns, so in order to learn
more about the insects he wanted to duplicate, he acquired the first
of several aquariums. For years thereafter, hatches of may flies,
damsels, dragonflies, caddis and chironomids flitting throughout
thier house became common occurrences, even in midwinter. In the
meantime, but studying aquatic insects in their environment, Jack
learned to imitate their movements through manipulation of his line
and rod tip.
Although several productive new patterns evolved from his observations,
his dissatisfaction with their colors led to photographing the insects.
He eventually elevated this to an art form by capturing amazingly
detailed close-ups of swimming insects, then enlarging them to large
Cibachrome prints. By 1962 Jack was using a series of chironomid
patterns he had developed, but it wasn't until 1966 while working at
Burfield's Ski and Sport Shop in Kamloops that he introduced them to
anglers. He taught night school fly-tying classes for 15 years,
and three of his students are contributors to his book: Brian Chan,
Jim Crawford and Ralph Shaw. (Although not related, Jack and Ralph
were the closest of friends and fishing companions.)
He was the author of two popular best sellers: Fly-Fish the
Trout Lakes with Jack Shaw and Tying Flies for Trophy
Trout, both of which are still in print. As well, he was
a frequent contributor to BC Outdoors magazine.
Author, photographer, teacher, conservationist and a highly respected
amateur entomologist, Jack Shaw spent a lifetime sharing his knowledge
with others. With his passing on February 2, 2000, an important page
in British Columbia's fly-fishing history was turned, but his written
words and fly patterns have left a legacy that will last forever.
~ Robert H. Jones
Credits: From Fly Fishing Canada, From Coast to Coast to Coast,
By Outdoor Writers of Canada, Published by Johnson Gorman Publishers.
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