This week’s Throw Back Thursday Fly is the Golden Girl TBT, a fly tied by Roderick Haig-Brown (1908 – 1976).
I took this picture of the Golden Girl through the glass display in a dark room and I think it turned out quite well. It was one of several flies in the collection and I plan to post other flies in future TBT posts.
The Golden Girl was developed by Haig-Brown in the 1940’s for winter steelhead in the streams and rivers of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Art Lingren in his book Fly Patterns of British Columbia provides a good history of the Golden Girl and how the fly was developed. He states, Haig-Brown was serving in World War II and dreaming about steelhead fishing. He believed the colors of red and orange were important for winter steelhead. Looking for a simpler fly than the Atlantic salmon flies of his native country, he used the the Red Sandy and Durham Ranger as impetus for a new fly pattern. The result was a much simpler fly using the best parts of each fly – the slim body of the Red Sandy and golden pheasant tippet wing of the Durham Ranger.
The original Golden Girl fly pattern calls for a tail of Indian crow. However, Haig-Brown later substituted golden pheasant crest feathers for the tail.
The Golden Girl is still a popular steelhead pattern to this day.
Roderick Haig-Brown was born in England and spent his early years there, moving to Seattle, Washington to live with an uncle in his early 20’s and worked in logging camps. He went to British Columbia when his US visa expired and worked as a logger, commercial fisherman, and guide. Haig-Brown returned to London in 1931, but soon returned to British Columbia where he later married his wife Ann and both of them settled into their home on the Campbell River on Vancouver Island. He lived on the Campbell River for the remainder of his life.
Haig-Brown was a prolific writer, publishing 23 books along with numerous articles and essays. His first book Silver: The Life of an Atlantic Salmon was published in 1931. Other favorite titles include Return to the River (1941), A River Never Sleeps(1946), Fisherman’s Spring (1951), Fisherman’s Winter (1954), Fisherman’s Summer(1959), and Fisherman’s Fall (1964).