SI Vault
Michael Baughman
September 11, 1978
Many anglers consider artificial fly-tying not merely a necessary adjunct to their sport, but also a veritable art. In fact, for a salmon fly called the Jock Scott, the tying instructions take up 43 lines in McClane's New Standard Fishing Encyclopedia and International Angling Guide and call for such exotic feathers as golden pheasant crest, speckled bustard, yellow toucan breast, black ostrich herl, green peacock sword, bronze mallard, and blue and yellow macaw. After spending the time and effort necessary to accumulate these ingredients and fasten them to a fishhook, to then toss the complex and lovely creation into a river on the off chance of hooking a salmon seems almost foolish.
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September 11, 1978

Hooray For The Red, White And Blue, Because Fish Can Be Patriots, Too

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My first half dozen Right Wing Specials were tied late one July afternoon, and five were handed out to guests on their way to the evening's fishing. No one turned down a Right Wing Special, but then no one took them very seriously, either. When these guests returned at dark (all of them fishless, as I recall), I learned that not one of them had condescended to try the fly.

I, however, had used mine to hook three steelhead, landing two eight-pounders and breaking off on the third and larger fish. When I relayed this information at dinner—modestly, I thought—there was some mild laughter, gentle headshaking, then a quick change of subject.

The following evening, armed with six more Right Wing Specials, I went out with one of the guests. He had been fishing hard for four or five days without so much as a strike. We tried the pool where I had fished the previous evening. Using a Right Wing Special—and with just a little advice on his casts—he landed two steelhead in half an hour, one a thick, bright female of 30 inches and 10 pounds.

It was just what I needed. When the news was related that night at dinner, no one laughed. In fact, no one even smiled. Fishermen are serious folk when they think they might be on to something. The Right Wing Special quickly caught on. I gave out dozens of them through the summer, and I'm sure that they accounted for as many fish as any other pattern.

Yet, despite the success of the Right Wing Special, I no longer fish with it myself. I have recently switched to a fly tied in honor of my wife's homeland. West Germany. The Deutsche Spezial is gold, black and red. To achieve its full and impressive potential it must first be soaked overnight in strong Bavarian beer. Laugh if you like, but don't knock it till you've tried it.

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