Silver Down East
Created and tied by Phil Foster*
Hook: Partridge CS10/1.
Tag: Flat gold tinsel.
Butt: Black Ostrich.
Body: Silver flat tinsel.
Rib: Silver oval tinsel.
Collar: Orange hackle pulled back.
Wing: Russian Red Squirrel tail. The color
is reddish brown and was originally reddish Fitch
tail but is nearly impossible to find today.
And the Rest of the Story
"On one of my Salmon fishing excursions in Down East Maine, I saw a chap
named Henry Dowling take a nice fish at the dam at Whitneyville on the
Machias River. Taking the opportunity to talk with him later, he showed
me the fly that took that fish. Simplicity personified and, with no
name. Just some Red Squirrel tail hair for a wing with a gray body,
that's all! Later on, after I had moved to Aroostook County, I came up
with a pattern based on Henry's creation. I dressed the fly with an oval
silver tag, Golden Pheasant crest tail, black Ostrich herl butt and,
flat silver tinsel body ribbed with oval silver. The wing was of reddish
Fitch tail with an orange hackle tied collar style pulled back and,
I used the fly extensively on the St. John and, took a lot of fish with
it. I named it the Silver Down Easter. I subsequently did a variation
with a gray floss body ribbed with fine silver oval tinsel and called it
the Down East Special. In retrospect, I suppose I should have called
them Dowling Specials 1 and 2. Years later, after I had returned to
Farmington, Colonel Joe Bates, the retired army officer turned writer,
called me to inquire if I was interested in tying some flies for him
that would be featured in a forthcoming book he was working on. The
book, Atlantic Salmon Flies and Fishing, is now out
of print and, is a valuable collector's item.
The Colonel came to my home and over a period of three days, I tied some
36 different Salmon flies with the promise that there would be a full
page of color photos of some of the flies featured in his book. After
the book was published, he sent me an autographed copy of the limited
edition. Included was a bill for $13.00! There were photos of just five
of my flies in the book but, it did get me some business. But, the
Colonel had 31 of my ties that went into his personal fly book. What
really galled me about the whole affair was the fact that he gave credit
for the Silver Down East Special to some Tyer on the Mirimachi. I
inquired about it later and the Colonel's reply to me was, "As Mae West
said, 'I'm not here to argue'".
Colonel Bates' daughter called me in early 1993 and informed me that she
was in the process of updating her father's book and would I be
interested in helping. I informed her of the problems encountered when
her father did the original and would only be interested if the
inaccuracies regarding the two flies mentioned were corrected. They
*About Phil Foster
Phil was born in 1927 in Maine. His dad, Herb Foster
introduced Phil to the resources to be found in the area,
hunting, fishing, trapping and guiding at an early age.
Phil started tying flies at the age of 9. Over the years,
Phil has led a life that has been close to the outdoors and,
all that it offers. He has guided for fishing and hunting.
He has also tied flies commercially for Abercrombie and Fitch,
William Mills and Sons, Orvis, LL Bean and other lesser known
In 1997, Phil self published a little book called
Grouse Dogs and Salmon Rods, A Master Maine Guide Remembers
in which he recalls his life adventures.
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