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HOORAY FOR THE RED, WHITE AND BLUE, BECAUSE FISH CAN BE PATRIOTS, TOO
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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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.

Yet anglers make and use Jock Scotts and thousands of other flies as well. The Jock Scott is an attractor fly, one designed to tempt strikes from fish such as salmon or steelhead that seldom, if ever, feed in freshwater. There are many theories as to why non-feeding fish will strike a fly. Perhaps it is a distant memory of juvenile freshwater feeding habits or a fishy form of anger or playfulness, as when a kitten pounces on a feather or a piece of string. Precisely why such flies work—or, more often, don't work—we may never know, but that only fans the endless hours of discussion and even violent debate on the subject. Some anglers tout small, bright flies; others like big, dark flies. There are advocates of heavily dressed flies and of sparsely dressed ones. Of flies on hooks with upturned eyes vs. those with downturned eyes. Mylar-tied vs. tinsel-tied. Yarn vs. chenille. Fish are drawn to orange and red, some say. No, answer others, bright colors scare them. I've heard it all.

Recently I spent two seasons working at a fishing lodge and listening to the endless debate. By the middle of the second summer I'd had it. Sick and tired of hearing about the merits of various flies, I decided to publicly prove what I had long believed—that it didn't make a bit of difference what fly you used, just so you used it well. If an angler could locate fish and cast efficiently, he could catch anything, and if he couldn't cast, then no Jock Scott, Black Prince or Golden Deamon, no matter how perfectly tied, would help. To prove my point, I created what must rank as the most ridiculous attractor fly in the long history of angling.

Since, according to my theory, the colors, shape and size don't really matter, the most challenging aspect was to come up with a catchy name. Many flies, including the Jock Scott, are named after their creators, but I didn't feel that the "Mike Baughman" would have wide appeal. Finally, in deference to the lodge's generally upper-middle-class Republican clientele, I called my fly the Right Wing Special. I might add that this name was chosen in a spirit of fun and, happily, was accepted as such.

The name clearly dictated the tying pattern. The Right Wing Special was made to imitate a tiny American flag. Mr. McClane, you have my permission to include this recipe in the next edition of your encyclopedia.

Tail: Red

Body: Starting from the back, bands of red, white and blue chenille

Hackle: White

Wing: Starting at the bottom, layers of red, white and blue bucktail

Head: Lacquered red

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