Fran Betters' dry fly

From Halford's early dries to the Catskill dry and everything else that floats on the surface.
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Eperous
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Re: Fran Betters' dry fly

Post by Eperous » Wed Mar 06, 2013 11:13 am

Barleywine wrote: One time I went to Fran's shop with a Haystack I tyed that I was proud of. When I showed it to him, he pointed out 3 things that I should have done differently, and handed me one of his. His fly looked like somebody's first fly :) But that was the beauty of Mr. Betters. He was always helpful, memorable, and tyed flies that were designed to catch more fish than fishermen.
You put a smile on my face after reading this... truer words were never spoken... Betters tied "real fisin' flies"... he knocked out so many, so fast, it was unbelievable--- and they all caught fish... great patterns...

I've told this story many times before, and I'll bore folks with it again... I stopped in his shop several times, back in the late '60's and early '70's... one day I walked in and told him I wanted to purchase some flies he tied which I intended to have mounted in a shadow box in his honor... he just looked up at me from his tying vise and said, "Just pick a few out of the bins, they're all mountable flies.".... what I loved about that statement, the man was not pretentious at all... as down to earth as any human being could be, and always helpful as you pointed out... great memories of a person who made major contributions to this pastime, IMO...

Ed

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Re: Fran Betters' dry fly

Post by eaustin » Thu Mar 28, 2013 10:04 am

In the '60s I came across a plastic container of Fran's flies in a local downtown drug store in Plattsburgh, NY, my home town. They were all Catskill patterns, Light Cahills, Quill Gordons, etc. and they were simply impeccable. As opposed to his "rough" style alluded to in the previous post, slapped together on the flies of his own design, these had some of the finest bodies, perfect dubbing, and the shortest hackle I had at that point ever seen on a fly. They were not tied in the strict "Catskill" style, but had hackle that was closer to 1 1/4 times the gap, similar to the flies depicted above. I bought a bunch of them right away and I've never before or since had flies perform on the water as well as those. A given fly of his would last a season. I wrote him about the flies in Larkin's Drug Store years later and he remembered supplying them. I never learned where he got that hackle, but it was ultra stiff and ultra short. A #14 was like anyone else's #16, and the flies were incredibly compact. I've spent my life trying to tie flies like that, and wished that Fran had continue to do them later in life. Once he had his own patterns established that's all he seemed to do however. His flies probably don't belong on a Catskill site, but I loved the classic patterns as he did them back then.
Eric

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Re: Fran Betters' dry fly

Post by mikevalla » Thu Mar 28, 2013 10:41 am

His flies probably don't belong on a Catskill site, but I loved the classic patterns as he did them back then.
Eric...while it's true SGM is filled with "Catskill" folks, who have that interest, it's not solely a "Catskill" site.

A lot of us severed (or at least stretched) our Catskill umbilical cord--years ago. :) However, some are still in the Catskill suckling stage---but all are welcome (even though viewing bead-head flies and foam give me a massive brain cramp). :)

As far as Fran goes---just as an FYI (not trying to sell something here), there's an entire chapter on Fran Betters in the forthcoming "new book" from Stackpole. He's one of the 43 chapters.

My guess is it will be released sooner than expected, as a guy from Oregon (who I don't know) alerted me it's on Amazon pre-order.

(It's a lot less expensive than the "Tying Catskill-Style Dry Flies]," and it's a lot larger---320 pages as opposed to 232). You can see a bunch of Fran flies---tied by him---in that title.

http://www.amazon.com/Founding-Flies-Th ... mike+valla

-MV
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Re: Fran Betters' dry fly

Post by Beaverkill » Thu Mar 28, 2013 1:13 pm

Barleywine wrote:His fly looked like somebody's first fly :)
But that was the beauty of Mr. Betters. He was always helpful, memorable, and tyed flies that were designed to catch more fish than fishermen.
Exactly.. His bombers were pretty rough looking but boy did they catch fish in the heavy pocket water... I have one fly left from Fran, a Hornberg (circa 1990)... One day when I went into his old shop to talk and pick up the "hot" fly and he was tying Hornbergs... He said I had to try one and told me to fish it dry and skitter it at the end of the drift... His advice was right on...I put one of the Hornbergs in a container, lost it and found it last year when I was moving.... I always enjoyed stopping in his shop over the years and after I started guiding, I would run an ADK trip every year and his shop was always on the agenda.. It was tough to see him deteriorate his last few years sitting in the shop but I guess there was probably no other place he would rather be...Now I am sure he is walking the banks of his beloved Ausable again...
Dan Ansbach

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Eperous
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Re: Fran Betters' dry fly

Post by Eperous » Thu Mar 28, 2013 6:22 pm

eaustin wrote:In the '60s I came across a plastic container of Fran's flies in a local downtown drug store in Plattsburgh, NY, my home town. They were all Catskill patterns, Light Cahills, Quill Gordons, etc. and they were simply impeccable. As opposed to his "rough" style alluded to in the previous post, slapped together on the flies of his own design, these had some of the finest bodies, perfect dubbing, and the shortest hackle I had at that point ever seen on a fly. They were not tied in the strict "Catskill" style, but had hackle that was closer to 1 1/4 times the gap, similar to the flies depicted above. I bought a bunch of them right away and I've never before or since had flies perform on the water as well as those. A given fly of his would last a season. I wrote him about the flies in Larkin's Drug Store years later and he remembered supplying them. I never learned where he got that hackle, but it was ultra stiff and ultra short. A #14 was like anyone else's #16, and the flies were incredibly compact. I've spent my life trying to tie flies like that, and wished that Fran had continue to do them later in life. Once he had his own patterns established that's all he seemed to do however. His flies probably don't belong on a Catskill site, but I loved the classic patterns as he did them back then.
(1) Scroll down and check out the Mini-Muddler that I purchased from Fran Betters, the day in question above... you can judge for yourself... viewtopic.php?f=5&t=2365&hilit=+betters

W/o any doubt, IMO Fran Betters made significant contributions to fly fishing, and classic patterns... but, some of his ties were not of the highest quality..

(2) I guess if SGM is restricted to "Catskill only", I had better look elsewhere... BUT, before leaving, I'm taking out a few folks with me... one moderator here chucks beadheads--- not sure how "Catskill-classic" those are... and the site owner, Mr. Fox... he was pushing "Frenchies", much worse than beadheads as they have florescent hot spots... that post of Mr. Fox's probably has more hits on this bulletin board than any other since Joe shared his "secrets" with us... :o and, word on the street is, the other moderator has a book coming out this summer on a ton of fly tyers--- great ones--- but not all from the Catskills... :oops:

What's this place coming too... :roll: Let's close it down and hand the "Gone fishing" or "Out-of-business" sign up... :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: and a little less starch in the collar please... let's have some fun... :P

Ed

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Re: Fran Betters' dry fly

Post by squish67 » Thu Mar 28, 2013 7:23 pm

As to whether Fran's flies were of the highest quality............... they caught a lot of fish, and they didn't fall apart! What more could you ask? ;)

Barleywine
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Re: Fran Betters' dry fly

Post by Barleywine » Fri Mar 29, 2013 9:58 pm

squish67 wrote:As to whether Fran's flies were of the highest quality............... they caught a lot of fish, and they didn't fall apart! What more could you ask? ;)
You're absolutely right. Fran's flies certainly catch fish. It's funny that this thread is kicking back up now, because a few days ago I was putting together a box of flies to take to PA for a few days on a spring creek. I put all of my best olive patterns in that box, and then threw in a few size 16 Ausable Wulffs. Sometimes, even in spring creeks, they're just the ticket.
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Re: Fran Betters' dry fly

Post by gadabout » Fri Apr 19, 2013 8:48 am

A few years ago, after reading a thread on one of the boards about Ausable Wulffs, I decided I needed to tie some up. Oddly enough, I had never fished any before. I was a little puzzled about what to use for dubbing, so I found Fran's web site and emailed him about recommendations for the dubbing material. He emailed back saying "We dye it up right here in the shop. It's $2 a package." So I asked about ordering information, to which he responded "I don't want you to write a check for two bucks. I'll just send it along and you can just pay me the next time you come up here." I told him I would send the check anyway as I didn't know if I would be going up any time soon. A week or so later, a small envelope arrived stuffed with enough dubbing material for a lifetime supply of Ausable Wulffs. And then a week or so after that, another identical envelope arrived.

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