My father, Phil Dotson, at age 26 fishing the upper Henry's Fork in 1958. Phil was raised in the Ozarks of northwestern Arkansas where he hunted gray squirrels and fly-fished for bass, bluegill and sunfish with popping bugs. After serving with the 1st Marine division in the Korean war he moved to Logan, Utah and earned a degree in Wildlife Management at Utah State University. While at USU he spent a summer in Ashton, Idaho logging for the U.S. Forest Service and fishing for Yellowstone area trout. Upon graduation he became a fisheries bioilogist for the states of Alaska, North Dakota and Utah wildlife departments. Later in life he founded an educational film production company Great Basin Film. He was a noted wildlife photographer publishing in Audobon, Ranger Rick and National Geographic.
"At the end of our journey we will return to where we began and know the place for the first time."
The following pages represent flies from my own collection and from other's collections with similar interest. The focus, and hence passion, of this collection centers on flies and their creators living predominantly in the western United States. Of particular interest is the northen Rocky Mountain region encompassing Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Notable historical tyers and artist such as Norman Means (a.k.a. Paul Bunyon), Jack Boehme, George Grant, Don Martinez, Al Troth and Pat & Sig Barnes are somme of the names that have shaped not only the flies but the fisherman of the West. Outside of an impressive western collection housed at the Butte, MT Visitors' Center on George St. (highly recommend that you visit), there is very little reference material that is public that showcases the historically important fly patterns and their American West originators.
That said, in this on-line collection you will also see a host of historically significant flies and their originators from other parts of the country highlighted in the "American Tyers" section. This section includes flies as varied as a Gray Ghost streamer tied by Carrie Stevens in Upper Dam, Maine to lesser-known samples from the likes of the revered bamboo rod craftsman Gary Howells of California and the legendary Edward R. Hewitt.
At the age of eight my father took me to the outlet creek of Spirit Lake in the Uintah Mountains of Utah fly-fishing for brook trout. Thereafter, I accompanied him on regular trips to Yellowstone National Park as his "assistant" as he photographed the park's wildlife as a professional photographer. This was in large part my introduction to a most wonderful world filled with trout and fly boxes breaming with feather, fur and hook. In the summer of 1978 I worked post high school for Hadley's Madison Hotel in the small Montana town of West Yellowstone. By day I worked reconstruction and room service. This freed up early mornings, late evenings and my off days to prowl inside the Park at the Barn's Pools on the Madison or to wade the Firehole river in search of rising trout in the Lower Geyser Basin. This marvelous time was filled with inquisitive trips to Pat Barnes & Bud Lilly's fly shops to gaze at Hardy fly reels and hold classic bamboo rods, all well beyond my means, or to poke through wooden fly bins marveling at the feathered creations of Sig Barnes, Charlie Brooks, Dave Whitlock, Bob Jacklin and Tony Sivey.
More than twenty-five years have passed since that carefree summer. Now, my family owns ranch land in southeastern Idah, situated just outside the southwestern border of Yellowstone national Park. It is approximately sixty miles south of the fly-fishing mecca of West Yellowstone, Montana. This greater Yellowstone country is now also my children's land of discovery. What a special time to be a "guide" to the next generation who will hopefully preserve and appreciate all this magical land and sport of fly-fishing has to offer.
I would like to thank all of the fly-fisherman and tyers, and families of those tyers, that have assisted me in pulling this collection together. In particular, the generosity of time given by extended family members and friends of notable western fly-fishing pioneers such as Charles Barnes, Eric Troth and Erik Schwiebert, to name a few, has been invaluable. I would also like to highlight the "gentlemen of western trout fishing" Bud Lilly of Manhatten, Montana for his encouragement. While not a tyer, he has an innate understanding of the importance of preserving the fly-fishing history and great waters of the American West. Lastly, a special thanks to Bruce Staples for his legendary tying skill and dedication to preserving the past. The collective assistance of the above, among others, in helping to preserve the history of western fly-fishing has been both personally rewarding and humbling. A sincere thank you.
I hope you enjoy viewing this collection of trout flies. At the top of this, and every page, you can click on the names of the noted tyer to see their original flies. My intent is to rotate in, or add, new additions to the collection every six months. If that doesn't happen, I hope you will understand if I am too busy teaching my fourteen-year-old son how to lay out a flyline and gently release a trout.
P.S. Any constructive feedback welcome. Always looking to acquire/purchase/trade or just photograph and return historically significant additions. Please feel free to contact me by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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