This week’s Throw Back Thursday Fly is the Skunk steelhead fly, one of Frank Moore’s favorite flies.
Frank Moore passed away last Sunday at the age of 98.
Here’s Frank at the 2015 NW Fly Tying and Fly Fishing Expo in Albany, OR demonstrating his casting technique at 90 years old.
He was the Dean of the North Umpqua and a legend in the fly fishing community. He and his wife Jeanne purchased and operated Steamboat Inn in 1957 along the banks of the North Umpqua for nearly 20 years. Frank was a WWII veteran, one of those many soldiers storming Utah beach on D-Day. Perhaps you’ve seen a documentary of him returning to Normandy to fish the rivers he saw as a soldier.
Here is a link to the trailer of Mending the Line, a story of Frank travelling back to France with his wife and son.
The Moore’s received numerous awards and recognition for their conservation efforts. In fact, the entire Steamboat Creek Watershed is designated as the “Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Special Management Area” a stronghold for Oregon Coast Summer Steelhead within the Umpqua River Basin.
Reviewing Shewey’s Classic Steelhead Flies (2015), I found a history of the Skunk steelhead fly and a detail I was unaware of. I always tied the white wing after dressing a black hackle. It turns out, the fly actually has a black wing with a small white patch over the top. Both wings are skunk hair. Looking at the fly, I now have a better understanding of why the fly was named the Skunk.
Shewey writes the Skunk fly pattern was developed by Mildred Krogel (1906 – 1983) for her husband Lawrence in the 1930s. They lived in Roseburg, OR trapping skunks for the fur market. She tied hundreds of dozens of these flies which made their way to steelhead meccas on the rivers of Northern California, Southern Oregon, and into British Columbia.
As I wrote in my Throw Back Thursday Green Butt Skunk post, Dan Callahan created a variant of the original Skunk, sometime after 1950, by adding a green butt to the fly. That minor change made a big difference for many steelhead fly fishers!
I highly recommend John’s book, Classic Steelhead Flies for those interested in the history of these beautiful flies. Here is a link for Amazon:
If you are interested to learn more about Frank Moore and his wife Jeanne, here is a link to Dave Stewart’s Wet Fly Swing podcast – Legendary North Umpqua Fly Fisherman, Steelhead, WWII, Conservation, or the YouTube link of the interview Dave conducted.
Enjoy…go fish, stay safe!
Frank Moore was a hero in many regards!
Thanks so much for this post!
I don’t have any experience fishing for steelhead and barely know some of the history and players involved. Even with the fishing aside, the interview was a delight and the world lost a soul that witnessed great changes. My grandfather was in the navy and 16 or 17 at the time he was driving a landing boat on D-Day. He could never talk about it and barely spoke in general.
Anyway, I’ve never been interested in the classic steelhead patterns, but now I want to learn to tie that fly!