This week’s Throw Back Thursday Fly is a George Grant style fly.
Obviously, this fly was tied by James V. Flaherty. I’ve watched him tie this style of flies at several Fly Fishing Fairs and Expos. I think he gave me this fly at the 50th anniversary of the Federation of Fly Fishers (now called Fly Fishers International).
George Grant (1906 – 2008) was known for tying woven-style flies.
Grant was born in Butte, MT and the Big Hole river was his home water. He was known for his conservation work and was called the “father of the Big Hole.”
After serving in the Army from 1942 – 1945, he owned fly shops in West Yellowstone and Butte, MT. Those efforts were short-lived as he took a job at the Treasure State Sporting Goods in Butte until he retired in 1967.
He was inspired by the Franz Pott style of woven flies, which Pott received a patent on in 1934. Some of those flies were the Lady Mite, Sandy Mite, and Mr. Mite. Grant received his own patent in 1939 for his style of woven trout flies.
Two notable books were written by Grant – The Art of Weaving Hair Hackles for Trout Flies (1971) and Montana Trout Flies (1981).
There were two schools of thought about utilizing soft or hard bodies. Obviously, Grant fell to the hard bodied nymph style as the best imitation to match the large Pteronarcys stoneflies. The fly he developed to imitate this nymph was his Black Creeper. He taught himself the woven hair technique in 1933, using black ox, skunk, boar bristle, and finally Tynex nylon.
Other popular flies developed by George Grant included names like the Badger Buck, Badger Bullhead, Brown Fox, Gray Buck, Miller’s Thumb, Squirlpin, and his Banded Featherback Nymphs.
For more information about George Grant, be sure to check out Mike Valla’s book entitled The Founding Flies. Mike Valla has done a terrific job capturing what the subtitles expresses – “43 American Masters, Their Patterns and Influences”. If you are remotely interested in fly fishing history, this is a must read, even if you don’t tie flies. I’ve provided a link to help you find this book through Amazon.
My name is Paul Bennett, I was very influenced by you as a teenager to become a fly fisherman, and fly tyer. I remember as a teen garage sailing with my uncle jory, your brother. On one particular Saturday garage sale escapade I had found a wreath that was made completely out of pheasant bodies, and feathers. And I had given it to you for you to give to Mr Grant, in return you hooked me up with a mass of fly tying materials. From that point forward I was hooked. Literally. Iam still tying flies till this day and beyond, I still have a box of pins you gave me to tie George’s woven fly patterns. Unfortunately I had lost the knowledge to do so. But I was researching his style of fly tying , Unfortunately I have not found enough. The history of this man is not so complete. I would truly love to bring his artform back into my life, and learn more about him. Thank you Todd for sharing your love of fly fishing with me as a young man. Someday I hope we can fish together.
I met Jim Flaherty at an IFFF expo in Bozeman MT about 13 yearrs ago when he stopped to watch me tie the Grant style nymphs. He was very interrested in the craft and we exchanged info. The next fall a 100 year Birthday party was held for Mr. Grant. Jim called and said he was coming for the celebration and asked if I could teach him how to tie the flies. I agreed and in about an hour (my workshops are 8 hours) i showed him the basics of the Grant style flies. Smiling from ear to ear he departed with a box of materials and began to tie the flies. After a few months of almost daily phone calls I received a box of beautifully tied flies that were hard to tell from the masters work. Jim and I have become great friends and we tie and co-teach workshops at Ifff events.
Jim has taken the craft to a whole new level and has surpassed my abilities tying the Grant style flies. If you have a chance to watch him tie make sure you do. Todd Collins
Thanks so much for your comment. It’s one of the reasons I started my Throw Back Thursday Fly segment with hopes of capturing stories like the one you shared.