February 21, 2013
Vintage Tackle Contest: Shrimp Fly? Hellgrammite? We're Not Sure
By Joe Cermele
This weathered old fly was entered into the vintage tackle contest by Billy Webb, who wrote that he found it buried in one of his dad's old tackle boxes. At first glance, I thought it looked like a shrimp imitation. Dr. Todd Larson of The Whitefish Press and "Fishing For History" blog had another idea about what this wacky bug was supposed match, and considering that Billy lives in prime Pennsylvania smallmouth country, I'm guessing the Doc got it right.
Dr. Todd says:
"There are no more inventive people on earth than fly tiers, and tying dates back nearly 500 years. It seems that if it crawls, flies, leaps, or swims, fishermen have tried to emulate it, and have come up with some amazing attempts at recreating nature. Your particular fly seems to be trying to emulate a hellgrammite, and although I've seen a million flies in my day, I don't recall seeing this style before. It's very clever, and your father (or a friend of his) must have been an ingenious tier to make it. I have little doubt it would have caught fish. I'm guessing it was made in the 1960s, and I believe, because of its unique nature, should be valued at $10-$20. Now break out your vice and go tie one yourself!"
Excellent find, Billy. I'm not sure if you tie flies, but if you recreate this with modern materials, who knows...you may have stumbled onto something bass haven't seen in decades, and thus find irresistable. Thanks for sending, and keep an eye on your mailbox, because there's a set of Berkley Aluminum Pliers headed your way.
If you've already sent me photos of your vintage tackle, keep checking every Thursday to see if I chose it for an appraisal by Dr. Todd. If you haven't and want to enter the contest, email photos of your old tackle to firstname.lastname@example.org, along with your name, mailing address, and story of how you acquired the gear. If I use it in a Thursday post, you get a pair of Berkley Aluminum Pliers (above) worth $50.