The Go To Box of Dr. David Burns
Dr. David Burns, Master Fly Tyer, conservationist, and fly fisherman, is currently enjoying his time in retirement after serving a distinguished career as an educator, a 3 year stint with the Washington Department of Game, and 30 years as a fisheries biologist with the USDA-Forest Service. During that time he has written, published, or presented many professional reports and papers dealing with fisheries science and conservation and has been an active member of several professional organizations. Dr. Burns has won numerous fly tying awards and competitions over the years and received coverage in many magazine articles and books. It you would like to know more about Dr. Burns and his flies, see his Contributing Fly Tyer pager at The Flies of Dr. David Burns.
I mentioned in "Favorite Contributor Flies of the Nov-Jan 09 issue that Dr. Burns uses many of his classic flies for steelhead fishing, is successful with them, and that I would write a little more about that in this issue. I said this because I have had some email conversations with Dave about the subject, but when he saw the "Favorite Flies" issue, he wrote to clarify,
I noticed on your web page that you picked a favorite fly and said that you'd have something about fishing full dress flies forthcoming. Even though I fish fully dressed flies, I usually limit that to times when I can use a floating line. Sink tips take a pretty heavy toll on my inventory. My "go to" box is mostly Spey-style and Dee-style flies. In the picture attached are the two boxes that I carry steelhead fishing. In the "Spey" box you'll notice a lot of South Fork Salmon River variations, Purple King variations, Akroyd variations, and Green Butt Skunk variations.
Now, I had thought about writing about this in the Favorite Flies article because I think it is a rarity these days and somehow there is a lesson here about our modern approach to steelhead fishing. We have a tendency to keep trying to invent new flies and hundreds of variations, forgetting that the old flies still work. I admire people like Dave, who have a deep appreciation for the old ways, put into practice.
Dave had also recently shared a humorous anecdote about his attempts at landing a steelhead with Ephemera's old mixed wing No. 1 for the river Tweed. I thought this epitomized his proclivity for tying really nice classic flies for a practical purpose, all the while knowing that he would inevitably be successful. He finally did take this hatchery steelhead on the fly, mentioning that this one was headed for the barbecue. You really have to read his not, though to appreciate his quest.
Last year I got obsessed with catching a steelhead on Ephemera's old mixed wing No. 1 for the river Tweed. All that I managed to do was litter the rivers over here with the flies, but I did catch steelhead on other patterns. This year the first day out in the first run I hooked a nice hatchery male with the old Tweed pattern. Today I lashed up these modified versions to litter with and perhaps catch another steelhead. Best fishes!
Other Flies Submitted by Dr. Burns
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By Dr. David Burns
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