Megan Boyd Obituary - Fly Fishing Forum
Classic Atlantic Salmon No pursuit rivals salmon rivers, flies & legacy

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Old 11-26-2001, 02:27 PM
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Megan Boyd Obituary

For those of you interested in Classic Atlantic Salmon flies you will be disappointed to hear of the death of Megan Boyd.

I have copied her obituary from todays "Times"



MONDAY NOVEMBER 26 2001

Obituary

Megan Boyd

One of the world's greatest perfectionists in the art of tying fishing flies though she never fished herself

Megan Boyd, of Brora in Sutherland, was hailed by many as the finest tier of fishing flies in the world. She began tying flies at the age of 12 under the expert tutelage of a Sutherland keeper, Bob Trussler, and quickly became an artist in the craft. She made her reputation by tying classic and traditional flies such as the Jock Scott, Silver Doctor, Durham Ranger and Wilkinson. She rarely bothered to invent a new tying, though some of the most complicated patterns that she tied can only be produced by an expert of her calibre. Yet despite the huge numbers of salmon that could not resist her flies, she never fished herself.
She did, however, give the angling world one creation that will ensure that salmon fishermen never forget her name. With the help of a friend and a client, Jim Pilkington, she devised a fly that became widely known as the Megan Boyd, and it became her trademark in dealing with fishermen around the world.

This blue-and-black fly catches salmon whether tied in the normal manner on a single hook or as a tube fly. Many fishermen swear that a tiny Megan Boyd, which she dressed on a minute tube with a size 18 treble, will catch salmon in dead low summer flows when most anglers would not expect any sport. Carefully used, with a gentle touch, these little flies have often saved some of Megan Boyd’s more knowledgeable customers from a blank day.

Rosina Megan Boyd was the youngest of three children. She is thought to have been born in England in 1915, and was taken to Scotland in 1918 when her father became a bailiff or river watcher on a Sutherland estate. During the Second World War she had various jobs, including a spell doing a milk round and duties as an auxiliary coastguard. Although she seems to have had little formal education, she was never at a loss when dealing with her many distinguished customers.

For over half a century she worked in her garden shed at Kintradwell, overlooking the North Sea. A kidney-shaped dressing table served as her workbench, and on it she tied flies with the meticulous precision that was best described in a letter printed by the Inverness Courier.

Jimmie Ferard, who has collected her work for many years and still has more than two thousand of her flies, wrote to the paper: “Her fly tying was unique. Surely one of the world´s greatest perfectionists in this art. The trouble she took over just arranging the pieces of hair for a Stoat’s Tail fly had to be seen to be believed. She used to put these hairs in the top of her lipstick holder with the ends sticking out and she said they should never be trimmed or cut as this was unnatural to the fish.”

Boyd’s flies had to be exactly right. The shape, the material, the lengths and sizes all mattered terribly. The precision and deftness of the fly-tier may be more important in the mind of the angler than to the fish, though there is no doubt that the colour of the fly, its sinuosity in water and its size play a great role in its success. The actual presentation of the fly is also vital. Salmon want to protect their habitat in the river and will fight trespassing foreign objects.

Nobody really knows why the salmon takes a fly, but many anglers believe that the fish’s reactions are triggered by infant memories of its first encounters with the abundant food source that sand eels can provide. In discussion, Boyd always came back to the baby sand eels on which young salmon smolts feed when they leave their natal rivers at the start of their oceanic migration. Sadly, she watched as sand eel shoals suffered badly from the trawlers that scooped them up from the sandbanks off the East Coast of Scotland, right outside her window.

As a dedicated conservationist she was a major supporter of the North Atlantic Salmon Fund and its efforts to buy out all the salmon nets which obstruct the return of the small remaining stocks of wild salmon to their native rivers to spawn. She regularly donated wonderful examples of her flies to be auctioned around the world to help this cause.

For most of her life she was full of energy, and she was a much-loved local figure. Country dancing was her favourite relaxation, and she took an active role in helping the old and disabled locally. Electricity did not reach her house until 1985, when she was already 70 and suffering, not surprisingly, from failing eyesight. A few years later she was forced to retire.

But her talk always came back to salmon flies and their history, the dressings and the vast number of renowned fishermen friends she had made during her lifetime. She remembered Charles H. Akroyd, the veteran sportsman from Duncraggie who devised the Akroyd fly, sometimes called the poor man’s Jock Scott. He had visited Iceland’s Big Laxá river in 1877.

In 1971 Boyd was awarded the British Empire Medal. Last year the Prince of Wales honoured her with a visit, and she later said that they had discussed the Popham, a very great fly. She said that if she had to pick a favourite, this glorious creation would be her choice. Originated by F. L. Popham, the pattern is one of the most complicated and beautifully constructed of all the classic dressings that Britain has given to the sport.



Megan Boyd, fly-tier, was born on January 29, 1915. She died on November 15, 2001, aged 86.



Copyright 2001 Times Newspapers Ltd. This service is provided on Times Newspapers' standard terms and conditions. To inquire about a licence to reproduce material from The Times, visit the Syndication website.

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http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/0,...544748,00.html
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Old 11-26-2001, 05:42 PM
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A wonderful life.
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Old 11-26-2001, 10:50 PM
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Very interesting, thank you for sharing this. Will have to look up some of this ladies flies.

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Old 11-27-2001, 12:14 AM
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Re: Megan Boyd

The thing about Megan Boyd always to keep in mind is that she tied those gorgeous flies to catch fish, not to be plaqued on some one's wall as folk art or feathered Faberge Easter eggs.

Someone once passed on using a fly as "not being elegant enough for a salmon" and expressed a standard many of us have internalized. Sure, Bunny Leechs and Green Rock Worms will catch fish, but what greater satisfaction can there be than to tie on a Megan Boyd Green Highlander and have it taken solidly by the King of Fishes.

Times arrow flies in but one direction. Sure and she will be one of Salmon's immortals.

God Bless her and her contributions to her art and craft.

Eric
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Old 11-27-2001, 02:46 PM
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Hi Hal
I hope this works and you should see the Popham.

http://www.gamefishing.co.uk/flies/salmon/index.htm

The Popham
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Tag: Fine Silver Tinsel
Tail: Golden Pheasant crest and Indian Crow
Butt: Black herl
Body: In equal sections: first orange, then yellow, then pale blue floss silk. The first and second sections are butted with black herl and veiled above and below with Indian crow.
Ribbing: The first two sections are ribbed with oval gold and the last with oval silver
Throat Hackle: Jay or guinea fowl
Wings: Tippets in strands, then a married wing comprising, bustard, florican bustard, peacock wing, scarlet, blue, orange and yellow swan, golden pheasant tail and peacock sword over.
Sides: Barred summer duck. Horns: Blue and yellow macaw.


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Last edited by Willie Gunn; 11-27-2001 at 02:51 PM.
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Old 11-27-2001, 03:13 PM
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When such a person leaves this world, her physical talents can no longer trim tinsel, twist a herl, wrap floss, fold a hackle, marry wings, match flank feathers, or dab enamel heads to finish a fly - but the fact that so many have seen her works and have been inspired to tie the classics by her handiwork means that she leaves a legacy of dozens, perhaps hundreds of hands to follow the way of the classic atlantic salmon fly tyer. That is a feat surpassed only by her skills at the vise.

I find it refreshing that Ms. Boyd and I share the same theory of "why salmon (steelhead) take the fly". Maybe we had been on the same Jedi wavelength this whole time
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