The fly in the photo below, held by my buddy Mike, was officially retired this past Sunday. Dubbed the Toxic Avenger, it scored Mike’s first-ever northern pike. It is also the only fly that has fooled at least one member of the Esox family in three consecutive winter floats. Considering how cold the water is here in the Northeast, and considering that this time of year you’re only looking for one or two bites anyway, I think that’s pretty impressive. It’s not the best-looking fly I’ve ever tied, but it just seemed to have the right shimmy or color or something that turned frozen pike heads.


If that pike hadn’t been Mike’s first, I probably would have kept the Avenger in rotation until every shred of bucktail was gone (it was already looking pretty ratty), but it has treated us well this winter and deserves to hang in Mike’s studio. I’ve got an entire bulletin board of flies that are retired for a plethora of reasons. Some have caught notable fish, some have been planted in my face, others were given to me by notable fly tiers, hence I’d rather have them then lose them.

What’s the best story behind a fly hanging in your house or gargage or truck? I know you’ve got one.