Stories of Atlantic Canadian Fly Tiers
A Little Thing I Tied Myself, by Don MacLean
Reviewed by Damian Welsh
Don MacLean has created, in my opinion, an Opus on Atlantic Canadian fly tiers and their craft. While Don has indicated he is only scratching the surface on the talent in Nova Scotia he has featured some of the most famous and innovative tiers of the past. The stories of Lee Wulff, John Cosseboom, Wallace Doak, Joe Aucoin and other notables that have helped to shape the direction fly tying in Atlantic Canada grace the pages of “A Little Thing I Tied Myself.”
Atlantic Canada is comprised of four provinces; Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island (PEI) and New Brunswick. Some of the best Atlantic Salmon fishing in North America can be found on the rivers of Atlantic Canada. Fly tiers from all four Atlantic provinces are featured within.
Their creations are featured in this wonderful book and they appear in the last few pages in three full-color plates, depicting the name of the fly and the tier associated with it. The recipes for the flies appear on the respective tier’s biography page. The color plates and recipes provide a good mix of proven patterns that are consistent producers.
The book opens with a journey through the progression of the art of fly-fishing and fly-tying that came about in our provinces, and the events that helped shape them. It then ventures into each province, one after another, and gives a clear snapshot of the fly tiers that helped shape and carry on the time honored tradition of tying artificial flies. The story of how Don came up with the book's title is a very amusing one and rings so true, especially back in the day when fly tiers kept their successful creations close secrets.
This is a very interesting and informative read that will interest fly tiers and fly fishermen alike. Don MacLean has certainly written a real winner of a book. Don, a fisheries biologist for the province of Nova Scotia, has been an avid angler and fly tier for the majority of his life.
Don has written for a number of magazines and publications and writes a column called “Tight Lines” which appears in several Nova Scotian newspapers weekly. He’s also the author of another great book, “Discover Nova Scotia Sport Fishing.” You may also have read some of his work in magazines such as the Atlantic Salmon Journal, Canadian Fly Fisher, and Eastern Woods & Waters.
In the pages of “A Little Thing I Tied Myself”, it is very interesting to see the names of famous fly tiers like Poul Jorgensen, Lee Wulff, and Joe Bates appear time after time as tiers that provided the inspiration that started many of these tiers lifelong journeys.
One of the books mentioned time and time again is “Flies for Atlantic Salmon” by Stewart and Allen. Many of the tiers give credit to Stewart and Allen for inspiring them and for providing such a complete reference for tying Atlantic Salmon flies. Most, if not all of the men and women credit a family member such as a father, grandfather, or uncle for introducing them into the fly tying craft. The stories these pages tell may be reminiscent of memories that the reader can really relate to.
I was very lucky to be asked if I would be a part of this work, and I graciously accepted Don’s invitation. Don stated to me during our conversation, “You are the youngest production fly tyer that I know, and I think it would be fitting for you to be included.”
The following is an excerpt from the book where I tell of the influences on my tying:
“Along with his Grandfather, Damian credits several fly tiers with having a major influence on him and his fly tying: 'I learned a lot from the writings of Lee Wulff, Poul Jorgensen, Dick Talleur, and Michael Radencich, and the fly tying of Rick Whorwood, Ronn Lucas, and Monte Smith. Some other regional fly tiers that have influenced my tying are Jerry Doak, Warren Duncan, Jacques Heroux, Jerome Molloy and Bryant Freeman as well as my many friends and fellow fly tiers on flytyingforum.com'”
The future of fly tying in Atlantic Canada has yet to be written; there are still many stories to be told, many stories to yet unfold. There is promise that the art of fly tying in Atlantic Canada will continue, as there are many younger fly tiers taking up scissors and bobbin every year. Every time I teach, I feel I’m contributing a little piece to that future and I’m confident it will continue long after I’m gone.
I’m very honored that I was asked to be involved with such a project, and even if I wasn’t, “A little Thing I Tied Myself” would still be #1 on my list of favorite fly tying books. I highly recommend any tier or fisherman to add this title to their library.
Author: Don MacLean
Fly Index Pages: Full Color
ISBN Price: $19.95 CDN
To order a signed copy directly from the Author Click on the Link Below
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