This week’s Throw Back Thursday Fly is the Lady Heather Double Wing.

Lady Heather Double Wing |

My friend Al Beatty offered the fly and story from the book he and Gretchen wrote entitled LaFontaine’s Legacy.

I’ve known of Al and Gretchen for several years because I always stop by the BT’s Fly Fishing booth or fly tying tables at various events to watch them tie flies. They are truly masters! In fact, Al is the 1999 recipient of the IFFF Buz Buszek Fly Tying Award, an honor for any fly tyer! In addition, both were awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013 from Fly Tyer magazine.

I really met Al & Gretchen for the first time when I tied at the Western Idaho Fly Fishing Expo in 2012. I drove over with Sherry and Jerry and the three of us were hosted by the Beatty’s. Needless to say, they welcomed me with open arms. They’re that type of people. I’ve stayed with them every year since then. They quickly became friends and Al has encouraged me in my website posts and photography. You may have seen a few of his comments in the posts I write. I count him as a mentor.

If you are headed to the NW Fly Tyer & Fly Fishing Expo in Albany, Oregon this week, be sure to stop by the BT’s Fly Fishing booth and say “hello”. Let them know you read about them in RiverKeeper Flies.

During my last stay in January (see the Goodbye Boise post), he asked if I would welcome input for my Throw Back Thursday Fly posts. I hadn’t really thought about it, but I decided it was a good idea and Al provided the following information about his friend and fly tyer Gary LaFontaine:

“Gary LaFontaine became world famous for his innovative trout fly patterns. But his life was cut short when he died of ALS in 2002. His final designs, however, were left in the caring hands of friend, author, and professional tyer Al Beatty, who proceeded to tie and photograph LaFontaine’s final set of undocumented patterns to create this book. Here are full-color photos and instructions on how to tie each of LaFontaine’s last designs, showing each step in detail. This is a beautiful book, essential to every fly tyer, that is also a loving tribute to an innovative sportsman.

Lady Heather Double Wing

Several years ago Gary called Paul Stimpson (helped us with the LaFontaine series of videos in the early 2000s) asking if he could tie several sets of Double Wings for the Book Mailer. What he wanted to do was offer a “special deal” to a few customers. The deal was a box with twelve dozen flies in it, four of each size 12, 14, and 16 in a dozen colors. Gary had one little problem; he only had eleven Double Wing colors in the catalog. Paul suggested they design another Double Wing while Gary looked over the color combinations he offered in the Book Mailer. The two decided they could definitely use a fly that fell in between a cream and a gray Double Wing. While on the telephone, the two brain stormed/developed the parts of the fly you see here today and named it the Lady Heather. After the field team finished testing the new fly, Gary decided to write an introduction for the special box of Double Wings explaining when/why to use them and ordered ten full sets of 144 flies each from Paul to “test market” the idea in his catalog, the Book Mailer.

The concept was so popular that for the next two years Paul tied sets of Double Wings (almost full time) until he had them coming out of his ears (almost!). In other words he got really, really tired of tying them and finally cried “uncle.” Gary had to retire the idea, his tier (Paul) had worn out on him.

Note: Here is the insert (written by Gary) about when to use the pattern from page 102:

Lady Heather Double Wing – This is a great, great attractor for those days that photographers call “cloudy bright.” Clouds cover everything, but there is enough light coming through so that everything isn’t a dark gray. Use the Lady Heather on these days. Author’s note: Gretchen and I have also found this pattern very effective in a couple of “tight” canyons we like to fish where the light is not directly on the stream except for a very short timeline during some parts of the day. Also double fishing any of the Double Wing patterns can really improve the pattern’s results. You can double fish the fly by using a strip retrieve to recover it AFTER the dead drift is complete.”

Thanks Al for the fly pattern and story.

Enjoy…go fish!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Similar Posts

One Comment

  1. Great article..Thanks Al & Gretchen, I have the book and love it.
    See you later today at the Expo setup.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.