"The outstanding thing I remember from the first (Federation of Fly Fisher's) conclave was the general feeling of kinship, optimism and goodwill engendered in all the participants. Every element seemed to come together just right. The mix of people who were there provided a happy combination of youth and age, rich and poor, celebrity and unknown, all mingling together as friends sharing common interests and concerns." J.D. "Skip" Hosfield
Skip Hosfield, in other words, was one of the founders of the Federation of Fly Fishers. But even more important, he's a great guy and amazingly skillfull fly tier. These Traditional Atlantic Salmon Flies are so stunningly beautiful it's not easy to find words to describe them with.
I asked Skip to write a short biography, to go along with his amazing fly photos. I was surprised to learn Skip was an old Tiger. I grew up in Princeton. In fact I was born there the year he started school at Princeton. The following few paragraphs are what Skip sent. I was also surprised to see that Skip started the McKenzie Fly Fishers in Eugene in 1965, the year I started my freshman year at the U of O. Too bad we had wait another forty years before becoming friends. Skip sure does tie a good looking fly.
I was born and raised in Akron, Ohio where my father first put a fly rod in my hands when I was six years old and showed me how to cast poppers to bluegills off the dock at our summer cottage. By the age of fourteen I had read Bergman's Trout and was dreaming of trout fishing and teaching myself to tie flies from two small books by Rueben Cross in our branch library. During high school there were four of us who often fly fished together. Two of my friends had discovered a small spring fed creek flowing into the Cuyahoga River which contained trout but they wouldn't tell where it was. It took me nearly a year to find it but I caught my first trout there in 1945.
A scholarship to Princeton in 1947 inspired hopes of fishing the fabled trout streams of the Catskills but lack of money and a heavy work load soon dashed them. My fishing pal from high school was at Yale and on rare occasions we would meet in New York City on a Saturday. One of our favorite places was The Angler's Roost, a small fly shop in the arcade of the Chrysler Building where proprietor Jim Deren tolerated our loitering without buying.
Late summer of 1948 my apprenticeship as a trout fisherman began when the four of us rented a rude log cabin on the banks of the Au Sable River in Michigan for two weeks. We returned to the Au Sable every summer for the next three years until graduation and military service sent us our separate ways.
After seven years of military service, marriage, kids, and grad school, I had moved my small family from Ohio to Eugene, Oregon. Having decided that living in Oregon was preferable to the life of an itinerant academic, I settled down to make my career as a small town architect. Meeting Polly Rosborough in 1960 gave me my first live mentor as a fly tier and began a friendship that lasted until his death.
In 1964 I was one of a small group that organized the McKenzie Flyfishers, the club which organized and hosted the 1965 weekend meeting in Eugene at which the Federation of Fly Fishers was started. As fly tying chairman of that event, the only notable fly tiers I was able to get as demo tyers were Polly Rosborough and Roy Patrick. But from that small beginning a fly tying renaissance was born.
Since then we have seen great changes in the world of fly fishing, especially in fly tying. I have had the good fortune to be in a time and place where I could be a part of these changes. I have been honored with many awards for my work in the FFF including Man of the Year in 1987 and The Order of Lapis Lazuli in 1996. But my greatest reward has been the hundreds of friends I have made through fly fishing and fly tying.
A few years ago I realized that in more than fifty years of tying flies for fishing I wasn't getting much better at it. I decided to try tying the classic Atlantic salmon flies both to see if I could do it and for the improvement it might make in my other tying. I resolved to tie 100 flies before deciding whether to stay with it. I reached 100 on 29 December 2006 and I'm still tying.