The Golden Retriever
By V. Paul Reynolds

Trust me on this. I am not one to jump to the conclusion that a fly is a "killer fly" just because it happens to bring me a few fish to the boat. In fact, in all the years of writing about fishing, only a couple of flies that I can recall got any of my ink.

What's the point?

We'll I'm all pumped up about a new fly, and it's important to me that you know that I really try to keep my perspective on these sort of things. This fly you are about to learn more about is one very effective fish attractor.

A few years back, whenever fly fishermen gathered to talk shop, I began to hear talk about this revolutionary new fly. To my own discredit I frankly never paid that much attention, neither did I even ask my fly-tying friends for more information or look for this particular fly in the fly shop displays. (Let's face it. Every fly fisherman I know has a "killer fly.")

A special fly, called the Golden Retriever, caught my attention recently and made me a believer.

My conversion took place a few few weeks ago during a two-day fishing pilgrimage to Grand Lake Stream in Princeton. The water was almost too high and fast to safely wade and cast for the feisty landlocked salmon migrating up stream from Big Lake. So my nephew Paul Huston and I took some sage advice from friend and Grand Lake Stream's High Poohbah, Bob Leeman.

We dragged a canoe through the woods to The Meadows, which is a long glide below the other legendary pools of the Stream. Paddling upstream was a challenge but we found a holding eddy and some grouped up salmon fanning in the eddy close to the edge of the fast water.

The angling action was about the best I have ever seen on the Stream. It was cold and rainy. We shared the canoe-maneuvering duty and the fishing. In an unusual run of good fortune, we had the winning combination right at the get go: sinking tip fly lines with a Golden Retriever tied on the end of the leader.

Half way through the angling action, I tried a green bead-headed wooly bugger. No dice. The Golden Retriever was the fly de jour. Later, back at camp, we shared our joy, our fly and fishing hot spot with our fishing buddies. Well-stocked with Golden Retrievers, they went to the same place and had the angling time of their lives.

Here is what I know about this potent fish seducer. It's a very popular fly in Virginia invented by angler and tyer Jim Finn. It's been around a while, but not well known outside Virginia and Maine.

The angling salesperson at Van Raymond's Sport Shop in Brewer, Jim Snow, told me that last year they sold 18 dozen Golden Retrievers and "they are moving well this year, too," said Jim. He has not had one fly sell like that in his memory.

So it's hot. I like its versatility. You fish it about any way you like: drift it under a strike indicator, fast strip it, or swing it across moving water.

You can buy these flies at Van Raymond's in Brewer or over the counter at the Pine Tree Store in Grand Lake Stream. Or you can see how to fashion one of these woolybugger type lashups on Jim Finn's website Mossy Creek Fly Fishing. For a video of a tying demonstration go online to: www.mossycreekflyfishing.com/media.flytying vid.

The author is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He is also a Maine Guide, co-host of a weekly radio program "Maine Outdoors" heard Sundays at 7 p.m. on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network (WVOM-FM 103.9, WQVM-FM 101.3) and former information officer for the Maine Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. His e-mail address is paul@sportingjournal.com . He has two books "A Maine Deer Hunter's Logbook" and his latest, "Backtrack."


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