Traverse Classics: Travel to rivers the world over and chances are you will meet fly fishermen casting a fly or two that was invented in Northern Michigan. Rusty Gates, owner of Gates Au Sable Lodge in Grayling, attributes the success of our flies to the knowledge base of our anglers. “Our fishermen really study the river,” Gates says. They’re looking for which insects are hatching, assessing what the fish are eating, eyeing river flow, and debris in the water. Such understanding of river life gives rise to flies that “are exact, not complicated, but effective,” Gates says. Following are nine flies invented in Northern Michigan and tricking fish around the planet.

Fly Fishing Icons

Adams Fly by Len Halladay

Houghton Lake Special by Bob Jewel

Au Sable Skunk by Earl Madsen

Michigan Hopper & Winnie Fore and Aft by Art Winnie

Strawman Nymph by Paul Young

Griffith’s Gnat by George Griffith

Borchers’ Special by Ernie Borchers

Roberts Drake by Clarence Roberts

Must-See Photos!

Think these flies look great? You’ve got to see the video: Fly Fishing Tips from Traverse City's Bob Summers.

For over 30 years the staff at Traverse Magazine has written about the history and natural world of our region. For the web series, Traverse Classics, we've reached into our archives to bring our favorites to our audience.

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