The Garry Dog

The Garry Dog


The hair wing example shown above is the Garry Dog, also known as the Garry, Yellow Dog or Ministers Dog, and what a fascinating story it reveals.

The actual beginnings of the Garry are fully documented and also has photographic evidence, so it makes a nice change to have verified details of how the fly came about, as well as the originators name.

Garry, was a cross bred retriever owned by a Miss Katharine Fraser, the daughter of the Revd. David Denholm Fraser who ministered in Sprouston Church on the borders from 1903 until the 1930's. The Revd. during one of his forays into the local town of Kelso, took the dog for a walk whilst checking on his flock of parishioners. On one such trip during the 1920's, he called into a local tackle shop to speak to the owner. During their conversation the owner clipped a few hairs from the dogs tail, to add to a fly that he was working on. The Garry Dog was born.

Miss Katharine Fraser with Garry the Dog.

The owner of the shop at that time was a John Wright and he is credited with the pattern. John's father James, another noted fly tier, was also credited with tying the first Greenwells Glory - but that story is for another time. The shop is no longer there, but apparently the property still exists, and with the original serving hatch from where John Wright sold his flies.

This particular design was popularised by a Mr. Arthur E. Wood who was the tenant of the Cairnton beat between 1913 to 1934. During this period Wood, who was a prolific angler is recorded as taking some 3,500 salmon on flies such as the Blue Charm, Logie, Jennie and of course the Garry, which has now been catching salmon for 100 years.

Although not as popular today as then, the Garry was considered to be one of the first modern day hair wings and its success over the last century is testament to a wonderful creation that was inspired by mans best friend.

To record the event for eternity, a plaque now hangs on the wall of Sprouston Church to commemorate Garry the dogs role in the making of one of the most successful Scottish salmon flies of its day. A fine tribute to Garry the dog and his tail.

The Garry Dog Plaque on Sprouston Church

I always consider it a great shame that we have forgotten or misplaced so many of the historical facts and origins, for both our trout and salmon flies, they are sadly lost in the mists of time. Many, probably with equally as fascinating stories as the Garry.

A lovely story and one that resonates well with me, as I love retrievers. Next week I will be visiting Kelso for a couple of days salmon fishing and of course will visit Sprouston to view the plaque and hopefully follow in the footsteps of the Revd. Denholm and Garry who, 100 years ago, made their way from Sprouston into the Tweedside town of Kelso, and into the history books of a legendary fly. Perhaps Garry the Dog will smile on me from above, and bring me some luck on my own foray?


Garry Dog Pattern

Hook: Esmond Drury
Thread: Black
Tag: Fine Oval Silver tinsel, with a few turns of Yellow floss. The Yellow floss is twice the length of the tinsel
Tail: Golden Pheasant topping (sparse)
Rear Body: Black floss
Rear Body Rib: Oval Silver tinsel
Front Body: Black floss
Front Body Rib: Oval Silver tinsel
Wings: Red bucktail under Yellow bucktail or (a golden retrievers tail).
Front Hackle: Bunch of Speckled Guinea Fowl dyed Blue
Head: Black


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