Saturday, March 24, 2018


At the March SOFT meeting Dan Kellogg did a tying demo on the Umpqua Special steel head fly. At that time he did not have the name of the originator or when it was developed. Thanks to Annabelle Wolflick and some research on the net, she came up with an article that gives us the answers.
In the early 20th century, the North Umpqua River drew anglers to Douglas County, Ore.  They fished for Chinook and Coho salmon, as well as sea-run cutthroat trout.  Summer fishing camps were established, leading to a storied angling history.
One piece of North Umpqua lore involved an Irish immigrant and World War I veteran, Victor "Vic" O'Byrne [oh-BERN], born in 1890.  The 1940 census lists his residence as Douglas County, Ore.
A 1939 Oakland Tribune article reported that he had landed a 25-pound North Umpqua Chinook salmon on a fly rod.  He not only may have been the first to introduce two-handed rods to the local rivers, but also his name is linked to developing the pattern for a colorful and popular fly-fishing lure called the "Umpqua Special,” which is still in use today.
O’Byrne lived as a recluse in a small, remote cabin upstream from Steamboat.  One evening in 1951 he drowned mysteriously after drinking with a friend at a fishing camp.  It’s said that his glasses and other personal effects were found neatly laid out on his cabin table after his body was recovered from the river downstream.
Here is a picture of the fly and a list of materials needed to tie it.
HOOK: Steelhead size 8 – 2
THREAD: Black 6-0
TAIL: White bucktail with red bucktail over.
BUTT: Yellow wool yarn.
BODY: Red wool yarn.
RIB: Silver oval tinsel.
HACKLE: Brown.
WING: White bucktail with red over.
CHEEKS: Jungle Cock (optional).

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