Fly Tyer: Ashley
Pattern: Willie Gunn
History: Originally from Scotland unfortunately most of my books are still at my old house so I cannot check the full history. Ashley I helped you out on this in an Internet second so to say. Heroes some history on the Willie Gnu.
WILLIE GUNN, the angler, gave his name to one of the deadliest salmon flies that have ever been tied. The fly is an essential part of many a salmon fisherman's equipment and is especially productive in cold water conditions, at the beginning or end of the season. "To be Willie Gunnless on any Highland stream was to be improperly dressed," wrote Bruce Sandison in Trout & Salmon.
It was Rob Wilson who had a tackle shop in Brora, Sutherland who tied the original Willie Gunn fly. It was one of about 20 experimental patterns and Wilson asked Gunn to select one.
Gunn's experienced eye fell upon one which was intended to be a hair-wing variation of another noted salmon fly, the Thunder & Lightning. "By gum" said Gunn, "that one looks bonny. That's the fly I would use." Well," said Wilson, you must have it and we will name the fly the Willie Gunn." Gunn's instant judgment was rapidly vindicated. That very day he caught six fish with the black, orange and yellow fly, and four the day after. Word spread and everyone on the River Brora began to use the Willie Gunn. Now it is known throughout the salmon fishing world.
According to one story, the Queen Mother, a skilled and enthusiastic salmon fisher, knew the fly, though not the man himself. It is said that she turned to her ghillie on an unproductive day and asked why they had not tried the Willie Gunn. "Ma'am" he said "I am Willie Gunn." Lord Strathnaver, the son of the Countess of Sutherland, for whose family Gunn acted as chauffeur and ghillie, said of him: "Willie was an extremely amusing gentleman and of course, famous as both fisherman and ghillie.
"He loved to help people to catch their first salmon. He always knew where fish were likely to be caught whatever the river level, and he was an absolute master of short casting. He could not see the need for long casting, preferring to keep everything as simple as possible."
Hook any salmon hook, waddington, UTC or flourescent red for high water version
Thread - black UTC or fluorescent red for high water version
Tag oval gold or fluorescent red glo brite silk
Rib - Oval gold
Body - Black silk for low water or gold braid for high water )no rib)
Wing - Low water yellow, orannge, and black bucktail in equal parts
High water same but less black
Head - black for low water and red for high water
Tying instructions for low water version:
1, Start thread near eye and wind down to bead, tie in tag
2. Wind tag and tie off )donít cut
3. Wind thread down to near and tie in floss. Wind down to tag and back again, tie and cut off
4. Wind rib
5. Tie equal parts of yellow, orange, and black bucktail (artic fox could also be used)
6. Make a nice head and whip finish, varnish