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Mike Foster fishing for Steelhead on the Trinity River with Gold-Ribbed Hare's EarWhen Mike Foster contacted me to show his flies, I was so thrilled, I nearly broke the keyboard typing a response. That's because I had known about Mike and some of his work from one of my favorite books, Fly Fishing for Pacific Salmon. Mike had seen some of his flies on this site tied by other fly tyers, so he emailed me to give us some history and to show more of his originals. When I also learned that Mike had collaborated with some other pioneers of the Pacific Salmon, Steelhead, and Sea-Run Cutthroat flies back in the 50's and 60's like Bill Schaadt, Al Perryman, Bernie Butler, Irwin Thompson, Grant King, and Virgil Sullivan, I was very eager to get going on this web page for him. Many of you may not know that Mike Foster is the originator of the Egg Head flies and the Sparkle Shrimp flies, amongst many others that you will see here, because there are so many variations these days - so read below about what he has to say about himself and if you want to know more about some of the best of Northwest fly fishing history take a look at his flies.

I have been tying flies for fifty-seven years.  In that time I have created several original patterns, mostly for steelhead and Pacific salmon.  Some of my fly patterns have been featured in fishing magazines and books.  I have also written columns for Angler magazine and Fly Fishing and Tying Journal.  I have also taught fly fishing for over twenty years with Mel Krieger and the Fenwick Fly Fishing  and Krieger Schools.  During my career as a public school teacher, I established a fly tying and rod building course for credit for high school students.

When I was thirteen, my fishing career began in Northern California’s Russian River.   There I was fortunate enough to be mentored in fly tying by Bernie Butler, Irwin Thompson, and Grant King.  For the past forty-five years I have fished North Coast rivers such as the Eel, Smith, Trinity, and Klamath.  My favorite trout waters are the upper Sacramento and McCloud in California and the Madison and Gallatin in Montana."  

Mike Foster

Mike Foster Flies

Egg Head Flies

Egg HeadDark Egg HeadRed Head

Green HeadClown HeadGeorge's Green

"I did the Egg Head for Fly Tyer magazine in 1981, but it was part of a series that I came up with in the late 70's inspired by a fly that Bill Schaadt gave me while I was still in high school.  His was a ball of chenille with mixed red and orange hackle ahead.  He called it his gob of bait fly.  I would think his later Egg Nymph patterns evolved from this.  I put the egg ahead of the hackle to make it more visible...at least to me."


Mike's Marabous

Midnight ScruffyRotor SpecialBuzzard's Delight

"The marabou flies, the Midnight Scruffy, Rotor Special, and Buzzard's Delight came about in the late 80's and early 90's.  They were my reaction to the growing popularity of the popsicle in this area. I was too old fashioned to fish with a fly that didn't have a body, so I started developing my own.  I also wanted a fly that presented a little more of a silhouette than the all marabou flies did.  So, I put the ice chenille in to puff the marabou a little while it was swinging in the water.  I picked colors that worked in local waters first, and went from there. I also gave some thought to the success that the lure guys were having, so I tried to add some flash to the natural movement of the marabou." 


Shrimp Flies

Pink Sparkle ShrimpOrange Sparkle ShrimpGreen Sparkle Shrimp

Orange ShrimpSparkle Worm

"Sparkle shrimps came into being the month they released pearl Flash-a-bou. I loved the stuff.  I gave a dozen to Ed Rice and he used them in the Bahamas instead of for Pacific salmon because he got there without his other fly boxes."


Green Flies

Green Machine Version 1Green Machine Version 2Green Machine Version 3Green Weenie

"The Green Machine pattern had numerous versions just by changing the hackle and tail material and keeping the fluorescent green body theme.  Al Perryman gave me the original when we were teaching together in the Fenwick flyfishing schools.  I did a green fly article in Flyfishing the West in the 80's and included several theme flies."

Also See

Fly Fishing the Salt for Pacific Salmon, 
My Experience

As Told By Mike Foster

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