Friday, March 14, 2014

Fulsher, Krom and Warren

I've been blessed to have fished with, and been mentored in my fly tying, by three of the finest gentlemen and salmon anglers of their generation:  Keith Fulsher, Charlie Krom and Bob Warren.  Many of my favorite memories of fishing the Miramichi include these men...learning experience after learning experience, and laugh after laugh.

I can't even fathom the fly tying knowledge represented in this photo, taken at a fly tying expo at Ramsey Outdoors in New Jersey some years ago:

Click on the pics for enlarged photos!

Left to right: Ted Patlen, Bob Warren, Keith Fulsher, the late Warren Duncan, and Charlie Krom

I first fished with Bob at what was then Vin Swazey's Tuckaway Cabins (now Bullock's Lodge) in 1998. He netted my first fish, a grilse, hooked on a Black Bear Green Butt tied by Keith Fulsher; Renate Bullock captured the moment (Bob no longer smokes):

A year later, salmon camp became quite a place for a neophyte salmon angler like me.  Here's coffee time with the group:

Left to right: Bob Warren, the late Dr. Dick Jogodnik, Vin Swayze, Charlie Krom, Pam Bates Richards, Keith Fulsher, and the camp lightweight, yours truly.

I was not tying salmon flies yet, but watching Keith and Charlie at the vise surely piqued my interest!
(photo by Pam Bates Richards)

Among hairwing salmon fly tyers, the phrase "Fulsher and Krom" is synonymous with what has become a classic salmon fly tying book, Hairwing Atlantic Salmon Flies, published in 1981 by Fly Tyer, Inc.  My copy is well worn!

A beautiful sampling of their original creations is pictured in Joseph D. Bates, Jr. and Pamela Bates Richards' Fishing Atlantic Salmon; the Flies and the Patterns published by Stackpole in 1996 (more about this book later):

The best part of doing the Yale Angler's Club fundraising auction back in the late '90's or thereabouts was hanging out with Keith and Charlie.  They always sat way in the back of the room; it was fun making eye contact with them as I went through the auction and seeing if I could make them laugh.  I think I did.

Keith Fulsher's first book centered on Thunder Creek streamers, named for a Wisconsin stream.  Tying and Fishing the Thunder Creek Series was published in 1973 by Freshet Press.  My copy has survived moves from New York to South Carolina to Vermont (and looks it).

The last time I fished with Keith was a few years back down in New Jersey.  He gave me this little Thunder Creek treasure at the end of a fine day.  What a memento!

In 2008, Atlantic Salmon Fly Tyer; A Memoir, by Keith, was published.  My cherished copy:

I always enjoyed receiving, out of nowhere, one of Keith's flies in the mail:

Charlie Krom is still busy cooking up new flies at his home in Tennessee.  Last year he sent me a copy of the notebook he put together on his Three Hackle Holographic Spey Fly series.

I told Charlie that I was going to give the Three Hackle a try in the colors of my Celtic Beauty (claret and dark green.)  I had dyed up a batch of silver pheasant, teal and pintail in dark green; I thought they'd make a nice front hackle over a smaller dark green rooster saddle feather underhackle.  I sent Charlie a batch of them, and wouldn't you know, not long later I received this letter:

Up close and personal, fly number 2:

Couldn't resist making a stab at it myself:

I'm very anxious to swing Charlie's Three Hackle Holographic flies in the Miramichi this summer!

Like Keith, over the years, Charlie sent me some beautiful flies:

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Bob Warren netted my first atlantic salmon.  2014 will mark the 16th year we've been in salmon camp together.  These days his way better half Linda comes along, too (and usually out-fishes at least me!)

Bob edited the inspirational (that's the only way I can describe it) Fishing Atlantic Salmon; the Flies and the Patterns, mentioned earlier in this post.

A few of his creations are included in the book:

If you click on the photo above, you'll see a key to the flies on the page.  Bob's Cutty Sark is number 5, his After Eight is number 2, his Green Prawn is number 4 and his Bullock's Bar is number 10.

Bob also did the hairwing conversions of classic featherwings in Dick Stewart and Farrow Allen's Flies for Atlantic Salmon (Northland Press, Inc., 1991).

I would not venture out onto a salmon river without two of his creations:  the Cutty Sark in the Summer, and the Golden Pheasant Spey in the autumn.

A Cutty tied by Bob:

He spent an awful lot of time with me, teaching me how to get the teal feather to behave (its the tented wing on the Cutty).  Slowly, I think I'm getting it...but I don't think I'll ever get my heads to look like his...or Charlie's or Keith's for that matter!

Then there's the Golden Pheasant Spey.  Ask my bud's Howie Gould and Paul Elson if its an effective fly.  Heh heh, I hooked fish in front of them and behind them last October on the Northwest.  Did I mention they got blanked? Sorry guys...couldn't resist - they smoked me over the next couple days, anyway.

I no longer have one of Bob's ties of the GPS; mine will have to do for the up close and personal:

It is featured, along with several other of Bob's creations, in Bob Veverka's richly done Spey Flies; How to Tie Them (Stackpole 2004):

Do these two flies work?  If one picture is worth a thousand words, here's three thousand words on the subject:

I've been profoundly fortunate to meet and learn from these three men.  Would that we could all bend feathers and fur around a hook the way they can.  I'm very proud to call them friend.


  1. Great writing-makes my blog kind of tame - tight lines and bright fish


    1. Thanks, Gregg! I love reading about your fly fishing excursions!!

  2. Great post Gary.

    Thanks for sharing the flies and the stories.

  3. Nice post, Gary. I met Charlie and Keith at a Miramichi Clave several years ago, when they were giving a tying demo. I was the lucky recipient of a fly called the Monkey that Keith tied and have it stored between the pages of their book "Hairwing Atlantic Salmon Flies. Amazing how they get the heads on their flies so small, as you say.
    Warren Duncan was one of my mentors. He would give you the shirt off his back. He once re-wrapped a Milward Bamboo rod for me free gratis, just because he enjoyed doing it. a great guy.
    Some wonderful pictures and memories you have here.

    1. It's all about friends and making memories, isn't it, Richard?!

  4. Great piece Gary. Like you, I owe a great deal to a couple of these gents. Keith taught me how to tie his Thunder Creeks. I was fortunate enough to spend a few days with Dunc at one of the lake camps and his home. I had visions of Dunc chiding me as I hooked my first Atlantic on that trip, but a heatwave the day before I arrived dashed that. We had a great time. I had to get out of there quickly before he threw the whole shop in my truck. Have had some great talks with Bob Warren. Been out of touch of late and haven't spoken to Bob or Keith in a while. Say Hi for me if you speak with them soon.

  5. Will do, Chris, and very glad you enjoyed the post!

  6. Great job Gary!
    You know, you yourself are an inspiration too bud! Keep up the good work, and the salmon worship!

    1. You are way too kind, Mark...but thank you very much! And I hope you're having one for me on your birthday today!!

  7. Gary I enjoyed your tribute to Fulsher, Krom and Warren. Two of my early fly-tying manuals were Fulsher and Krom's " Hair Wing Atlantic Salmon Flies" and Stewert's "Flies for Atlantic Salmon" as well as the original Bates book (which I loaned and it was never returned). I met Warren Duncan when I was teaching fly tying for Fredericton Fish and Game. He watched me use a technique with floss as butts that he said he would incorporate in his tyes. That was leaving a loop of floss out over the tail to be pulled over the top of the butt to lock the floss in place and prevent it travelling over the tag.
    The other night when I was at our local fly-tying evening one of the other tyers commented that I was using Warren Duncan's method on floss butts. I didn't bother mentioning that he saw me doing it and decided that he would use it as well.
    Brian C

  8. Brian, happy you enjoyed it, and that's a hoot about Dunc and the floss butt "wrap-over". I use it on every floss butt fly, too.

  9. Have you seen the video "Kiss the Water" from BBC Scotland about Megan Boyd?

    1. I have not, Gordon, but look forward to seeing it.

  10. Great post, Gary! :)

    (well, most of it anyways)

    1. LOL, ya, sorry, couldn't resist that little deal about the Golden Pheasant Spey and you and Paul, but it was all about the fly, doncha know! Look forward to seeing you again, soon.

  11. Paul and Howie can do that. Another good blog entry Gary. I've been tying a bunch for the oxbow in April. Hope the river is free by then. Blair

    1. Thanks, Blair! Hope to see you in April!