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:
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.