February 27, 2013 —
Some fly fishers have come into possession of a particular fly pattern via an unexpected opportunity. They value that fly above all others. In fact, Barbara Ann has two such flies. However, her flies have never been tied onto a tippet, nor have they ever floated cockily on any currents tempting trout.
On Friday evening October 9, 1970, Barb and I arrived at the famous Henryville House on the Paradise Branch of the Broadhead Creek. We were there to take part in the annual outing of the Theodore Gordon Flyfishers. Henryville House, which was built in 1848, played a large part in the early history of fly fishing in the Northeast.
The fishing that weekend was excellent. In a day and a half, Barb and I caught 22 trout that ran up to 15 inches in length. We found no mayflies hatching, but the trout willingly took nymphs such as Schwiebert’s Ephemerella pattern and Jack Atherton’s Light nymph. As often happens, Barb caught 17 of the 22 fish. The largest was a corpulent 15-inch brown trout. She fished up ahead of me both days and it seemed every time I looked up she was playing a fish.
On this particular weekend, we had the pleasure of meeting Don Zahner. In May 1969, Zanhner had begun publishing a fishing magazine titled Fly Fisherman. A number of anglers believed that Zahner’s new venture had little chance of succeeding. Fly Fisherman is now 44 years old and is still popular with fly fishers.
That weekend Ralph Graves and Bob Morse generated a good deal of interest in their new fiberglass rods.
These rods, even though they were slightly over six-and-one-half feet long, were made in one piece. Vince Cummings, who was well known for building fine fiberglass fly rods, was the maker. Unfortunately, Bob Morse is no longer with us, but I now own his nifty one-piece rod. I make sure to exercise it at least once every season.
Friday evening, Ernest Schwiebert was to give a fly tying demonstration for those attending the outing. There was quite a crowd around the vice as Ernie began to tie. Barbara Ann, being a tiny lady, wiggled among the taller males to a position right at Schwiebert’s elbow.
He asked what fly the group wanted him to tie first. There were loud requests for him to tie a Schwiebert Hopper. He had perfected this grasshopper imitation on that famous spring creek, the Letort. Barb and I were both surprised to notice that when he sat down to tie his hands were obviously shaking. It was hard to believe that so well known an angler would be nervous in this situation. He proceeded to tie a perfect Hopper, while explaining each step as he tied.
He ejected the fly from the vice and held it in the palm of his hand for all to admire. Now, Barb is normally so self-effacing that if I happen to mention her fishing ability in front of male friends she becomes very uncomfortable. Therefore, I was stunned to hear her ask, “Mr. Schwiebert, may I have that fly?” He smiled and immediately placed the fly in her hands. She later admitted that without thinking she had blurted out her request.
Ernie’s next fly was a Henryville Special. When the fly was finished, his eyes searched for Barb in the crowd. He then passed the second fly along to her.
During the drive home, she mentioned that those two flies meant more to her than the fish she had caught.
Those two flies now sit in a prominent place in our Texas fly tying room. Sorry, they are not for sale.