Tied by: Dan Despres
Originated by: Flight Lieutenant “Dusty” Miller
Hook: Daiichi 2370 (Dick Talleur) #2
Thread: Red 8/0
Tip: Silver / gold oval tinsel
Butt: Red yarn
Body: Silver / gold flat tinsel
Rib: Silver / gold oval tinsel
Wing: Mixed black, orange and yellow bucktail tied in the round
Eye: Jungle cock nail (optional)
Notes: Being that the Willie Gunn is one of the most successful Scottish salmon flies, it’s no surprise that several origin stories for the legendary fly exist. The pattern was designed by a Royal Air Force Flight Lieutenant named “Dusty” Miller. Miller was a commercial fly tyer for Robert Wilson who ran a shop on the River Brora. Miller had sent the Willie Gunn, then unnamed, along with a couple dozen other flies to Mr. Wilson in order to get his comments and approval. Willie Gunn, who was a keeper, gillie and stalker with the Sutherland Estates, happened to be in Mr. Wilson’s shop as he examined the flies.
When Willie caught sight of the fly he exclaimed “By gum, that looks bonny. If I had a choice, that’s the one I would use.” “Well,” replied Mr. Wilson, “you must have it and we will name the fly the Willie Gunn.” The fly left with Willie and by the end of the day, six salmon had been brought to hand via the newly christened fly. The news of the pattern’s success spread quickly, and remains a popular choice to this day.
Like other popular flies, the Willie Gunn has evolved into hundreds of variations. It can be tied using hooks, tubes, shanks and needles as the tying medium, and using a multitude of tying styles such as Spey or Templedog. Dan has tied his 2 versions using mixed hair tied in the round. Another common method is to stack the wing with the yellow material on the bottom, then orange (or red) and topped by black.
Daniel Despres – I am an avid fly fisher, fly tyer and outdoorsman and have been for many years. As a youngster, I grew up in a supportive and loving family that was not much into either fishing or outdoor activities. Nevertheless, through self propelled interest and friends sharing the same hobby as I, fishing slowly but surely grew into a full time obsession. Throughout the years, I have fished many rivers and lakes in the province of Quebec.
[visit Daniel’s streamer page on Streamers 365]