I love flies with neat histories. This one
is a particularly neat story.
"The Puntledge River...was a favoured haunt of
the Hames family who have lived in the Comox
Valley [British Columbia] since 1914. Born in
1913, Jack Hames fished the Puntledge and other
local rivers from boyhood. For 20 years,
starting in 1958, he wrote newspaper articles
about life, the fauna, hunting and fishing in
his community. In 1990, Jack's wife, Gertrude,
reprinted some of his articles in Field
Notes: An Environmental History, and
among the many fishing stories is one called
"The Mystery Fly."
In the early 1930s when fly-less and with little
or no money to spend on flies, Hames was searching
through his father's flybook and found what he
would describe later as the mystery fly. Jack
intended to only borrow his father's fly and
return it later that day but it worked so well he
kept it and eventually lost it when he snapped it
off his gut leader. He searched in vain but
couldn't find a replacement. With the dressing
implanted in his brain, years elapsed before he
learned how to fix fur, feather and tinsel to a
hook. However, skills obtained, he was determined
to replace the mystery fly and searched for the
wing, the drake mallard flank or bronze shoulder
for the tail, and the barred rock or brown rooster
feather for the hackle posed no difficulty as they
were readily available. The grey material for the
body however, proved more challenging. But he did
find some un-named grey fur amongst his mother-in-law's
dressingmaking materials. With all the materials in
his possesion, his mystery fly was reborn and it
produced as well as the original lost many years ago.
However, as his supply of the un-named grey fur that he
raided from his mother-in-law's sewing kit became depleted,
he searched in vain for this magical silver-tipped fur
that help its firmness and lively glisten when wet.
After discussing this with fly fisher, Bob Taylor, of
Vancouver [BC], Taylor offered to take the remnants of
Hames small patch to a furrier for identification.
Reluctantly, Hames let Taylor take the fur away, and
was ecstatic when Taylor returned with a large swatch
of the magical South American kid.
With his supply worries abated, Hames tied up a good
stock of different sizes and because it provided him
with a visual link to the river he fished and loved for
so many years named the fly, Puntledge River."
Recipe Mystery Fly
Originator Jack Hames.
Credits: From Fly Patterns of British Columbia by
Arthur James Lingren, published by Frank Amato Publications.
Hook: Size 6-10.
Tail: Mallard flank or bronze shoulder.
Body: South American kid fur.
Rib: Fine, oval, gold tinse.
Hackle: Barred rock or brown rooster feather.
Wing: Strips from a wild goose secondary flight
Intended Use: Wet fly for cutthroat trout.