Pat & Sigrid Barnes owned and operated one of the premier fly shops and guide services in West Yellowstone, Montana for almost 40 years.
Growing up in Montana, Pat learned to fish with grasshoppers from his mother and caught his first fish on the Madison in Yellowstone Park at age six. Given this early success, Pat always had a fondness for hopper patterns. In his retirement Pat put together an impressive collection of Hopper patterns from the preeminent fly tyers in America (see collection and contributors in slideshow.) Pat taught school in the Helena MT school system during the winter and tied flies and guided for Don Martinez and Dan Bailey during the summers. Pat opened his own full time shop in 1946 at age 37.
Pat was a practical fly tyer-flies designed to catch fish. He developed patterns such as the Sofa Pillow and Jug Head that became Yellowstone area staples during the early summer salmon fly hatches from the Big Hole in June to the Yellowstone river in August. he is also responsible for the evolution and broad commercialization of famous western patterns such as the Goofus Bug (Jack Honer's Deer Hair) and the House & Lot Variant that was originally introduced in Colorado and named by Dwight Eisenhower. Pat was also the first western fishing guide to use the McKenzie Drift Boat for fishing in Montana, which has now become the staple of big water fly fishing.
While Pat was both the consummate western big river guide and fly innovator, the prolific tyer in the family was his wife Sig. With a converted foot pedal sewing machine attached to her vise (see photo at top of page), she stocked 100's of fly bins through out their shop. When asked how many flies she had tied for their shop her answer was simple "too many." The Pat Barnes' fly shop in West Yellowstone was sold to Bob Jacklin and is still in operation today as Jacklin's Fly Shop on the corner of Yellowstone Avenue and Canyon Street.
The Barnes' flies were sold under their trademark designation of "Waterborn Flies." This label graced the box tops of flies sold from their shop.
All historical photos courtesy of Charles Barnes (Pat & Sig's son).
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