Here is a very interesting concept. You might try tying this one for yourself
and fishing it of course, to see what the reaction is. At the time, "this fly,
described as "unquestionably the greatest and most radical improvement in
fishing tackle," was invented by Wakeman Holbertson" (more on him later)
"and patented May 4, 1886."
"It was claimed with the feathers so tied, the wings offered less resistence to
the air in casting, and as the fly was slowly drawn through the water the wings
expanded and gave it a fluttering motion, which was more alluring to fish."
Whether the idea was original with Mr. Holberston or not, it was practically
the same as the Redding . . . which dates six years earlier."
Holbertson was very well known as a salmon fisher, and another fly he created, called
Holbertson was named after him. The salmon fly was considered the "fanciest of the
fancy." Holbertson was an excellent caster in the competitions of the New York
State Sportsman's Club. He won aclaim as an artist for his watercolor paintings of
trout. He was secretary of the Neversink Club in 1884. His biggest contribution
to the fly fishing world however may be his attempts to standardize the names of
flies, since there were many flies bearing the same name which were entirely different
flies. He painted fifty copies of a watercolor picture, showing a speckled trout
rising to the fly. Surrounding the trout in the form of a border are sixty-four trout
fly patterns, numbered and named. In Harold Hinsdill Smedley's book,
Fly Patterns and their Origins the author mentions he had seen one copy,
No 6, owned by Edward D. Knight, Jr. of Charleston, West Virginia. (The book
was published in 1950.)
In 1884 Holbertson painted another set of forty varieties of "Standard
American Black Bass and Lake Flies."
"He was the author of The Art of Angling, 1887; and Angling
Recreation - a single volume issue, with paintings by himself. When writing
for the papers, which he frequently did, he often used the non de plume of "Scarlet Ibis."
Another fly, for bass, the Lottie, tied in yellow and black was also his creation.
Interestingly, in 1880 (six years earlier than the Fluttering Fly) the same
concept was used in a fly called the Redding, all the way across
the country in San Franciso. B.B. Redding, at that time a member of
California's first State Fish Commission, had the fly tied for him by a now
The Redding deer hair fly had the hair reversed on the upper part of the hook so
as to open when drawn through the water. The lower part, or body, was of
green peacock herl.
Mr. Redding had been mayor of Sacramento, member of the California
Assembly, and State Secretary. He was a scientist, and wrote thirty-nine
articles between 1877 and 1882 on salmon and trout. He died in 1890.
Do you wonder how such a tie would work? Hmmmmm . . .
Credits: Drawing and selected quotes from Fly Patterns and
Their Origins, by Harold Hinsdill Smedley, published by
Westshore Publications, Muskegon, Michigan 1950.