Bunyan Bug and A River Runs Through It

A place to discuss the collecting and tying of classic flies, the tyers who made them famous, the tools, materials and techniques they used as well as the waters they were designed for. While classic is generally used to describe old things, classic is also used in the sense of first class or in the highest form. Therefore a fully dressed Salmon Fly, or a Carrie Stevens Streamer are just as much classics as a Chernobyl Ant would be. Enjoy the forum.

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pittendrigh
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Bunyan Bug and A River Runs Through It

#1

Post by pittendrigh »

This is the fly Norman Maclean's brother (Brad Pitt) used to catch the big hatchery fish he swam for in the movie--a fly originally designed by Missoula Montana's Norman Means in the early 1940s. How is that possible? Maclean's story took place in the 1020s 1920s, didn't it? When everybody drove model T Ford's?
:=))
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Last edited by pittendrigh on 02/12/13 13:10, edited 1 time in total.

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mer
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Re: Bunyan Bug and A River Runs Through It

#2

Post by mer »

1920s? (typo :))
Perhaps when they rode the boat downriver, they went so fast they wound up time travelling into the future, gave Norman Means a prototype pattern , then wound up back in their own time.

Otherwise, "poetic license"?

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pittendrigh
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Re: Bunyan Bug and A River Runs Through It

#3

Post by pittendrigh »

mer wrote:1920s? (typo :))
Perhaps when they rode the boat downriver, they went so fast they wound up time travelling into the future, gave Norman Means a prototype pattern , then wound up back in their own time.

Otherwise, "poetic license"?
......this will give me an excuse to reread A River Runs Through It. Is that story/scene even in the book? I can't remember.

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Kenov
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Re: Bunyan Bug and A River Runs Through It

#4

Post by Kenov »

According to Mean's grandson, Richard Rose (quoting his grandfather), the Bunyan Bug was first "conceived, made, and used" in 1923. Also, the book, I believe, is set in the 3-'s, rather than in the 20's of the film. But, yeah, there may be a timeline issue for sure in the film. All I know is I'd sure like an original Bunyan bug -- the last major early Montana fly I must have.

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Re: Bunyan Bug and A River Runs Through It

#5

Post by JeffK »

That scene was where the fly fishing was dumbed down IMHO. The book went to some length to describe how the younger brother figured out where and what to fish to out compete his brother - and gain the admiration of his father and brother. No spoilers - go read the book. In the movie he just seemed lucky or persistent.

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mvendon
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Re: Bunyan Bug and A River Runs Through It

#6

Post by mvendon »

Actually,

That wasn't the fly that caught that big trout in the movie. The bunyan bugs in the movie were tied by Ron Brown, that used to live in Livingston, Montana. They looked similar to commercial BB ties, but didn't have as much spread in the wing, and the body was hand painted differently. He used to post on FAOL'S forum, and fly fishing in Maine's forum, as well as a couple of other ones that I didn't go to. In 2005, someone had a collectors package for sale on eBay that centered around one of 100 of these that he had tied. He used to mention it from time to time in his posts, so when I came across it then on eBay, it caught my eye and I printed it out. It was supposedly on the front page of the Federation of Fly Fishers magazine sometime in 1993 also. He passed away several years ago.

Regards,
Mark

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Re: Bunyan Bug and A River Runs Through It

#7

Post by mikeylikesit »

The bodies made of balsa wood on Those bugs?
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PaducahMichael
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Re: Bunyan Bug and A River Runs Through It

#8

Post by PaducahMichael »

mikeylikesit wrote:The bodies made of balsa wood on Those bugs?
Pretty sure it was cork. Save 'em from your wine bottles!
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Re: Bunyan Bug and A River Runs Through It

#9

Post by andre49 »

mvendon wrote:Actually,

That wasn't the fly that caught that big trout in the movie. The bunyan bugs in the movie were tied by Ron Brown, that used to live in Livingston, Montana. They looked similar to commercial BB ties, but didn't have as much spread in the wing, and the body was hand painted differently. He used to post on FAOL'S forum, and fly fishing in Maine's forum, as well as a couple of other ones that I didn't go to. In 2005, someone had a collectors package for sale on eBay that centered around one of 100 of these that he had tied. He used to mention it from time to time in his posts, so when I came across it then on eBay, it caught my eye and I printed it out. It was supposedly on the front page of the Federation of Fly Fishers magazine sometime in 1993 also. He passed away several years ago.



Regards,
Mark
Ron went by the board name "Old Guide" and was a really nice and generous guy. Had many a conversations with him and he tied up the most effective Trico emergers I've ever come across. I miss him and his "folksy" way.

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Kenov
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Re: Bunyan Bug and A River Runs Through It

#10

Post by Kenov »

Means tied his Bunyan Bugs with cork bodies. Jack Boehme tied his versions with balsa (thus the name, "Balsa Bugs").

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pittendrigh
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Re: Bunyan Bug and A River Runs Through It

#11

Post by pittendrigh »

Kenov wrote:Means tied his Bunyan Bugs with cork bodies. Jack Boehme tied his versions with balsa (thus the name, "Balsa Bugs").
Here's a Boehme bug. You can see Boehme used a sliver of goose quill to hold down the horse hair wing, where Means used a split (split end-to-end and apparently cork) body.


Image
Last edited by pittendrigh on 03/20/17 20:01, edited 3 times in total.

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Kenov
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Re: Bunyan Bug and A River Runs Through It

#12

Post by Kenov »

Thanks for that info. and for the spectacular photo! I had wondered what Boehme used to secure the wings.

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pittendrigh
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Re: Bunyan Bug and A River Runs Through It

#13

Post by pittendrigh »

Classic fly collectors (like me) tend to like Bunyan Bugs because they're odd but very cool-looking anachronisms from days gone by.

Trouble is they still work as well as they ever did. During Salmon Fly time in the Northern Rockies there might be better adult stonefly imitations to use. But you can still catch fish with Bunyan Bugs. The really odd thing is that you can do it all year long.

When you get right down to it a Bunyan Bug is much the same thing as a flyrod bass popper. And a growing number of Montana fly fishermen have been experimenting with, well, bluegill poppers. Perhaps this is heresy. But it turns out the number of cold water habitat Northern Rockies trout caught on bluegill poppers is close to zero--------only because nobody ever tried.

And now that's all starting to change. What amounts to floating foam (or cork or balsa) girdle bugs with squiggly rubberlegs are often just what the doctor ordered. Especially so around overhanging roots and branches. But anywhere really. I've been playing with poppers. But I'm not the only one. There is a bit of a mini movement going on around here now.
Last edited by pittendrigh on 02/13/13 13:33, edited 1 time in total.

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thegubster
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Re: Bunyan Bug and A River Runs Through It

#14

Post by thegubster »

andre49 wrote:
mvendon wrote:Actually,

That wasn't the fly that caught that big trout in the movie. The bunyan bugs in the movie were tied by Ron Brown, that used to live in Livingston, Montana. They looked similar to commercial BB ties, but didn't have as much spread in the wing, and the body was hand painted differently. He used to post on FAOL'S forum, and fly fishing in Maine's forum, as well as a couple of other ones that I didn't go to. In 2005, someone had a collectors package for sale on eBay that centered around one of 100 of these that he had tied. He used to mention it from time to time in his posts, so when I came across it then on eBay, it caught my eye and I printed it out. It was supposedly on the front page of the Federation of Fly Fishers magazine sometime in 1993 also. He passed away several years ago.



Regards,
Mark
Ron went by the board name "Old Guide" and was a really nice and generous guy. Had many a conversations with him and he tied up the most effective Trico emergers I've ever come across. I miss him and his "folksy" way.
Wow, this is an eye-opener for me. I never met Ron but had quite a few conversations with him via the internet. He tied a few dozen flies for me, many of which I still have. Also gave a handful of other flies when he sent out my order.

Great guy indeed. I'd have loved to have met him in person. Nearly did on a stop out west in 2005 but he got busy...we lost a great guy there!

Thanks for bringing this to my attention Mark and Andre.

Jeremy.

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Re: Bunyan Bug and A River Runs Through It

#15

Post by JeffK »

I know someone who uses panfish poppers on limestone streams out East, especially at night. This guy is someone who catches more than his fair share. Purists grimace, but they work.

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Re: Bunyan Bug and A River Runs Through It

#16

Post by williamhj »

Does anyone have a picture of the underside of the fly? I'm interested in how the wood/cork is secured to the hook - wrapped or does the shank go through? Thanks!

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Re: Bunyan Bug and A River Runs Through It

#17

Post by Boo »

Here's my original Bunyan Bug...Means or Boehme?

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Kenov
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Re: Bunyan Bug and A River Runs Through It

#18

Post by Kenov »

Means. Very nice. Thanks for sharing.
Last edited by Kenov on 02/16/13 10:53, edited 1 time in total.

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mvendon
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Re: Bunyan Bug and A River Runs Through It

#19

Post by mvendon »

williamhj wrote:Does anyone have a picture of the underside of the fly? I'm interested in how the wood/cork is secured to the hook - wrapped or does the shank go through? Thanks!

The underside won't really show you all that much since the tissue paper decal covers up where the hook is. They used crookshanked hooks and inserted them into the bodies with a shallow slit cut on the bottom of the bug. They used to use Pliobond to glue the bodies to the hook. If you're making your own, paint the body and have the wing all set before glueing onto the hook. Make sure to wrap the hook with heavy thread before glueing the body on. The remaining thread should be towards the back end of the hook. After attaching the body to the hook, spiral wrap the thread towards the front and make a crisscross around where the wing is. The thread will help keep the body attached to the hook. Tie the thread off on the front of the body, not behind the hook eye like normally tied flies.

Regards,
Mark

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pittendrigh
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Re: Bunyan Bug and A River Runs Through It

#20

Post by pittendrigh »

RE> "anybody have a photo of the (Means Bunyan Bug) bottom?"

Here's one....
Image

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