Fishing Fly tying

Fly tying: The Wood Special

In the Northeast, where fly fishing got it’s American start on the brook trout waters of the Adirondacks, the Catskills and in the north woods of Maine, older, more traditional flies still find their way into fly boxes. And why not? They’re beautiful creations that were meant to attract native brook trout in tumbling mountain rivers and streams and, in more coastal environs, hearty Atlantic salmon that are today no longer a dependable part of the region’s fishing offerings.

These days, you don’t see nearly as many “old-fashioned” flies out there, particularly for trout. But now and then, something old can be new again. Above, check out the Wood Special, originally tied by Joe Sterling, a Maine fly fisher, in the 1960s. Six decades later, fly-tying guru Tim Flagler is still tying it. And thank goodness for that—it’s an eye-catcher.

It’s also a pretty simple tie, and, while applications of a free-swinging, light wet fly may be somewhat limited here in the big, sweeping waters of the West (although I’d give it a whirl in the lower Henry’s Fork and maybe the canyon stretch of the Gallatin), it’s still a favorite of Northeast anglers who chase browns and brookies in shaded, north-country rivers.

— Chris Hunt

By Chris Hunt.