The history on this one is easy, and I'll let the
words of W.P. Andrus, the creator of the fly, describe
"The history of the discovery of the above fly is as
follows: In August, 1877, I was in the Adirondacks, at
a small lake called Wild Goose Lake. Two of us had about
exhausted ourselves by whipping the lake all around, and
over some particularly attractive-looking pools had used
nearly every sort of fly we had in stock, but with very
poor success, as for our two or more hours' work we could
show only about a dozen trout that would average five or
six to the pound. We finally went ashore in disgust, my
friend to pick and eat huckleberries, while I sat down and
overhauled my fly-book; and from among the truck there, and
some ravelings from a red flannel lining in a coat I had on,
I constructed the fly above described; in fact, made two of
them. About the time I had finished my lure the sky became
slightly overcast and the trout began jumping, so we got into
our boat and paddled over to a spot where they seemed to be
particularly lively, and there we went to work. Well, to make
a short story of it, I proved conclusively that my new fly was
a sure "killer," for in about a hundred minutes I had taken
sixty-five trout that weighed twenty-five pounds."
This vignette comes from Mary Orvis Marbury's Favorite
Flies and Their Histories, and is contained in a letter
she received from W.P. Andrus, an angler from Minnesota. I
will assume the trout referred to therein to be brook trout,
and if fishing the large, gaudy Parker resulted in that sort
of success, it's no wonder the speckled trout is all but gone.
I've seen small brooks in the Adirondacks so choked with small
five to seven inch brook trout that you could literally throw
a gum wrapper in there and they would hit it. There is a
wonderful little creek that runs most of the way up the trail
to Mt. Dix, and with a little bit of stealth and a hand line
you can catch dinner in about ten minutes. These might be some
of the best eating fish on Earth, but then again, maybe it's
the Adirondack air.
Here's the recipe for W.P. Andrus' Parker. There is another
version, with a different wing, found in J.Edson Leonard's
Flies that I'll include as well. Leonard comes
by this version honestly, as there are two flies shown in
Favorite Flies called the Parker, the descriptions
of each referring you to the Andrus letter. The one I've tied
is in the trout flies section of the book, the other is found
with the bass flies.
Credits: Favorite Flies and Their Histories
by Mary Ovis Marbury; Flies by J. Edson Leonard.
Tag: Red or scarlet wool, not too fat.
Ribbing: Flat silver tinsel.
Wing: Guinea hen.
Tail: Guinea hen.
Wing: Black loon (white spots at tip)
Body: Peacock herl, gold tip.
Tail: Scarlet and barred wood duck.
I started fly fishing as a teen in and around my hometown
of Plattsburgh, New York, primarily on the Saranac River.
I started tying flies almost immediately and spent hours
with library books written by Ray Bergman, Art Lee, and
A. J. McClane. Almost from the beginning I liked tying
just as much as I liked fishing and spent considerable
time at the vise creating hideous monstrosities that
somehow caught fish anyway. Then one day I came upon a
group of flies that had been put out at a local drug store
that had been tied by Francis Betters of Wilmington, N.Y.
My life changed that day and so did my flies, dramatically.
Even though I never met Fran back then, I've always
considered him to be one of my biggest influences.
I had a career in music for twenty years or so and didn't
fish much, though I did fish at times. The band I was with
had its fifteen seconds of fame when we were asked to be in
John Mellencamp's movie "Falling From Grace." I am the
keyboard player on the right in the country club scene in
the middle of the movie. Don't blink. It's on HBO all the
time. We got to meet big Hollywood stars and record in John's
studio. It was a blast.
So how did I wind up contributing to the Just Old Flies
column on FAOL? I'm not sure, it was something that I simply
wanted very badly to do, and they let me. Many of the old flies
take me back to the Adirondacs and my youth, and I guess I get
to relive some of it through the column. I've spent many happy
hours fishing and tying over the years, and tying these flies
brings back memories of great days on the water, and intense
hours spent looking at the flies in the fly plates in the old
books and trying to get my flies to look like them. And now,
here I am, still doing that to this day. ~ EA