Dick Stewart was the second owner of the fly shop in North Conway, purchasing the shop from Dick Surette and renaming the shop the North Country Angler. Fly fishing was experiencing one of its many upcycles when Stewart owned the shop. Thousands of flies were sold at the shop and the majority of the flies were tied by local tyers.
If you have never tied a fly, it can be a laborious undertaking. Commercial fly tyers are always looking for ways to shave even a few seconds off the time to tie a fly. When tying 100 dozen of a pattern, a few seconds means that you can tie even more flies.
One of the flies to come out of Stewart’s North Country Angler was the Dredge Bug. This highly effective fly was weighted with lead wire so that the angler could “dredge” the depths of the area ponds or the deep pools on the Saco River.
The fly was available in two colors and two hook sizes. The colors were hare’s ear gray and bronze mallard brown. The Mustad 9672 hook in sizes 8 and 12 were the hooks of choice.
The best part about the fly was that a proficient tyer could tie one fly in three minutes or less depending on how the tyer chose to deal with wrapping the hook with the lead wire. The North Country Angler sold thousands of these easy to tie flies and Stewart reaped the benefits.
Fast forward to the year 2018. Being a devout pond angler, I tied up some Dredge Bugs for pond fishing in the valley. The flies were very effective. The flies were not very durable. Using non toxic wire, lead wire is illegal, the flies took a long time to sink.
Off to the tying table to see if there was a way to build a better mouse trap.
The key feature on Stewart’s Dredge Bug was the chenille head. This represented the head of the emerging bug as the wing was tied behind the head. The chenille would disintegrate after catching a couple of fish or after an hour of casting to the bottom of a pond.
The solution came when we were tying Mop flies. The key to the Mop fly is the large tungsten bead at the head of the hook. Couldn’t we replace the chenille head of the Dredge Bug with a tungsten bead?
Looking around the shop at the tungsten bead display, there were mottled brown tungsten beads and gritty gray tungsten beads. Just the solution to adding weight, removing the chenille and cutting down the time to tie a Dredge Bug.
The new Dredge Bug went to the field for testing. They sank quickly. They cast easily. The trout loved them. We started tying the Dredge Bug in colors to match all the tungsten bead colors. Olive, black, green, yellow, orange and white. Every color produced fish.
Now to get a local tyer who would be able to tie the quantities necessary. A call went out to Doherty Brothers Fly Company. Sean and Andrew were very eager to tie these flies for the North Country Angler. A reborn Dredge Bug now holds its rightful place in the fly section of the shop. If you don’t have a couple of Dredge Bugs in your fly box, you should.
Tip of the Week
Practice good etiquette when you are fishing a river or pond. Never get loser to a fellow angler than two times the distance you can cast your fly or lure. That’s being a respectful angler.
Steve Angers is a native son to the Conway area. He is the author of the acclaimed book “Fly Fishing New Hampshire’s Secret Waters.” When he is not casting to trout in the valley, he operates the North Country Angler.