This week’s Throw Back Thursday Fly is the Scarlet Ibis.

Scarlet Ibis |

I took this picture at the International Federation of Fly Fisher’s Museum in Livingston, MT when attending the IFFF Fair in August 2016. Walking around the Museum, I took a few pictures of flies that spoke to me and this was one of them.

My local fly shop when I lived in Corvallis, OR in the 1980’s was called the Scarlet Ibis Fly Shop, owned by Michael Gorman. Now you know why the fly spoke to me!

The Scarlet Ibis is an old fly featured in the Mary Orvis Marbury book entitle Favorite Flies and Their Histories published in 1892 by The Riverside Press, Cambridge. It is fly number 205 on Plate U. The original book is out of copyright and can be viewed in various formats HERE. The hard copy I have is from The Wellfleet Press (1988).

On page 369, W. David Tomlin from Duluth, Minn provided the following entry:

As favorite flies for trout for use in Michigan streams, I have learned to select the following : –

…Scarlet Ibis. – For trout in rapid waters, or at the eddies under falls or cascades, this is a killing fly ; for yellow perch or croppies in deep coldwater lakes they are a very drawing fly.”…

The following fly pattern is from Ray Bergman’s book – Trout (1938), Plate No. 8, page 222. (For more information about Bergman, check out my Bostwick post.

Body:Scarlet Floss
Ribbing:Gold Tinsel
Tip:Gold Tinsel
Tail: Scarlet 

Several flies at the turn of the century used feathers from Ibis birds. As the name implies, feathers from the Scarlet Ibis were used for this fly.

Mary Orvis took over commercial fly production for the Orvis Company in 1876. Charles Orvis wrote to anglers around the country asking for information on their favorite flies, how they were made, and where they were used. This was the first serious attempt to catalog flies used in America and the information received provided input to the flies tied and sold by Orvis.

Mary Orvis Marbury dedicated this book as follows:

To my Father
Charles Frederick Orvis
I lovingly and gratefully proffer this record of
his instructions to me regarding his favorite
recreation, with the hope that the same
may be useful to all who are fond
of this pleasant pastime, and espe-
cially to the many who have
proved themselves his
friends, and there-
fore mine

The book’s Prefatory states:

“The letters which form Part II. of this book were written to Mr. Orvis in response to letters of inquiry which he sent to anglers in all parts of this country. Two or three years were spent in collecting information in this way. The kind interest shown by fellow-fishermen in cordial replies giving their knowledge and opinions was both surprising and delightful, and awakened warmest gratitude. These letters are records of actual experiences, and conclusions deducted from the same. We feel, therefore, that they cannot fail to be of great assistance to any one who may wish suggestions regarding new waters. That these suggestions may be the more available the letters have been geographically classified.

The inquiries made had reference to the following subjects :-

Favorite fly or flies among those well known.

Testimony regarding the same, in connection with locality, time of day, and season.

Facts relating to the origin of any fly ; either those well known or new creations.

Incidents proving efficacy of above.

New Flies. – Origin, time, name, place.

Theories regarding shape, size, and kind of hooks.

Theories regarding snells, whether stained or clear, light or heavy, twisted or single, short loops or long strands.”

Favorite Flies helped standardize the names of flies in America that the Orvis Company could tie and sell. It was the first major attempt to capture and share information about aquatic insects and their imitations in America. Before this, most flies used in America were from Great Britain.

Lastly, check out the Don Bastian post – The Scarlet Ibis for more information.

Enjoy…go fish!

(Check out another fly from the Mary Orvis Marbury collection – The Rose.)

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  1. Just like Don’s flies, Marvin’s work is always so very nicely done. This is definitely a fly I would want to fish.

  2. Love the Scarlet Ibis! I tied and fished it as a teenager, being influenced by Trout, Bergman’s book.
    It is interesting to note, the popularity of this fly, in addition to Marbury’s book, her father’s book, co-authored with A. N. Cheney, “Fishing With the Fly,” the Scarlet Ibis is there is three versions, Lake Fly, Bass Fly, and Trout Fly. I have all three of these in various articles on my blog, “Don Bastian Wet Flies.” Also note the correct spelling of my name. 😉
    Thanks for the honorable mention! Nice article!

    1. Don

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment to my blog post. I’ve been a frequent visitor to your blog, you do a terrific job! And sorry for the misspelling of your name – already been corrected.


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