The Professor

At last year’s Fly Fishing Show in Raleigh, I met fly tier  Brad Kern (pictured above), a graduate student at Duke University.  I was impressed by his work.  Eventually, I decided to approach him with an idea I had in mind for a good while: I wanted someone to tie me a salmon fly version of the classic “Professor” wet fly.  Brad’s talent, his probable need for money as a graduate  student, and the fact that he was local, helped me make my decision. A few days ago, Brad finished the fly I proposed to him.  You can see it at the top of this page and, again, at the bottom.

 In Favorite Flies and their Histories  (1892), Mary Orvis Marberry provides an illustration (above) of the classic “Professor” wet fly, along with an annotation:

The Professor was named after the much-loved Professor John Wilson (Christopher North), and the story of the fly is, that one time, when this famous angler was fishing, he ran short of flies, and, to create something of a fly-like appearance, he fastened the petals of buttercups on his hook, adding bits of leaves or grass to imitate the wings of a fly.  This arrangement was  so successful that it led to the making of the fly with a yellow silk body, since then so widely known as the Professor.

Prof. John Wilson, incidentally, was a Scottish author who lived from 1785-1854.  “Christopher North” was his pseudonym.  If he first tied the “Professor,” then it has been around for many, many years.

Brad Kern utilized many of the materials associated with the classic “Professor.”  In turning it into a full-dress married-wing salmon fly, however, he added quite a few other materials and colors.  Some of these — the blue and red (the latter is also present in the original) — signify my terminal academic degree (Ph.D) and discipline (Religious Studies).  Brad provided a beautiful frame for the fly, and he included his maker marks or “chops” — one for his Korean family name and another for his personal name (also in Korean).  The fly itself, if pictured below.  I am very pleased with it.

You can see more of Brad’s work at Justwondering’s Flies.

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