There is a picture in the very front of the Mary Orvis
Marbury book which shows two gentlemen with rods, creels,
and fly boxes spread out, conversing in front of a cabin
in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It is entitled
"Disputing the fly question." It was given to the Orvis
family by another gentleman, and graced a bookcase in the
house for years. One day, Mary Orvis Marbury looked across
the street, and there, on the piazza of the hotel, were the
same two gentlemen, fly boxes spread out, discussing flies
once again. Later that day, W.C. Prime, noted angling author,
and his friend Mr. Bridge showed up for dinner. Mary was
stunned to discover they were the same two men again, and
showed them the picture. It had been taken fifteen years
earlier at "Lonesome Lake Cabin."
During the visit Mary showed Mr. Prime several flies,
one with which he was quite taken. It was a fly sent
to her by John Shields, inventor of many of the patterns
found in the book. She gave it to her father to give to
them on their way out of town, and he did so. The next
year they both returned again, raving about the fly.
Mary says this:
"Since then we have frequently heard the testimony in
favor of it for black bass repeated, and have rejoiced
to think that our good wishes resulted in a discovery
of further merit in this pretty fly first intended for
Maine trout by its originator, John Shields."
So there you have the story of the Moose fly, which
was originally intended to imitate what must have been
a huge insect bearing the same name, encountered by
John Shields in the Maine north woods. I'm not sure I
ever want to see a Moose Fly, the insect that is. Anyway,
it's a gorgeous pattern, and lots of fun to tie. Here's
Wing: Barred wood duck, golden pheasant tippet shoulders (full).
Hackle: Yellow, sparse guinea over.
Body: Yellow floss, gold rib and tip.
Tail: Yellow goose.
Credits: Favorite Flies and Their Histories
by Mary Orvis Marbury; Flies by J. Edson Leonard
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