One of the best things about Christmas, is that my family and friends, knowing I'm a very keen fly fisherman and fly tier, rarely have to ask - 'What do you want for Xmas?' So, I sit back, safe in the knowledge that additional fishing goodies and books will be coming my way. This year was no exception, and amongst my 'goodies' were 2 books that I have been meaning to 'procure' for many years.
The first was 'Megan Boyd Salmon Fly Dresser', by Derek Mills & Jimmy Younger. This lady is probably little known outside of the fishing fraternity, but she has always fascinated me due to the fact that when Megan started tying flies around 1927 at the tender age of 12, very few, if any females were involved in the art of fly tying.
Megan was born in Surrey England in 1915 but moved to Brora in Scotland when her father was hired as a water bailiff in 1918. Megan was initially self taught but received professional instruction from a Mr. Bob Trussler a Sutherland estate keeper in 1929, having recognised her keen eye and ability to dress a fly. Her long career in fly dressing had begun and although punctuated throughout the war period when she worked as a coastguard auxiliary, she continued to excel in her chosen career. After her fathers death, Megan took over the lease (rent free), on the small cottage in which she had lived with her father on the Gordonbush Estate at Kintradwell. This isolated cottage overlooking the North Sea had no running water or mains electricity until the 1980's, was to become her home and workplace for the next 59 years.
Megan went on to become one of the most accomplished fly dressers this country has produced and her clients came from around the world, including our own royalty. Her long career lasted well into her 70's and only ceased due to her failing eyesight, probably in part, bought about by the inadequate lighting she would have tied her flies with over many years. Having devoured the book within the first 24hrs of receiving it, I became even more fascinated with this lady and would recommend this book to anyone vaguely interested in fly dressing. I suppose the ultimate accolade of such an accomplished dresser is to have a fly design named after you, and Megan was given that honor by her friend Jimmy Younger around 1968.
In 1971 after a lifetime of fly tying, Megan was awarded the BEM (British Empire Medal) in the Queens New Years Honors List. Strangely, Megan never actually fished herself and thought that fly fishermen were an odd group of people. Megan was clearly an accomplished fly dresser who was well known for her exacting standards and a stickler for using the correct materials. Her fly's (if they can be found), command very high prices nowadays and rightly so. I for one, will continue my search for a Megan Boyd specimen to own as a lasting legacy to a much loved and fascinating lady.
The Megan Boyd Salmon fly is based around Megan's favourite colours and the recipe is provided below.
Megan Boyd - Fully Dressed Hair Wing. Tag: Oval Silver. Royal Blue Floss Tail: G.P. crest. Blue and yellow hackle points Butt: Black ostrich herl Body: Rear third yellow seals fur, remainder dark blue seals fur Hackle: Medium blue cock over blue seals fur Rib: Oval silver Throat: Dyed blue guinea fowl (wound) Wing: Several strands of blue and yellow hair, brown hair over Cheeks: Jungle cock (tied long) Head: Black.