The Professor, A Fly Fishing Bicentennial

By Partridge Ambassador Fred Klein

The Professor Fly Pattern tied by Partridge Ambassador Fred Klein.

Beginnings in Scotland

Two centuaries ago in Scotland, angler “John Wilson 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 imitated 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 was widely known as the Professor” Mary Orvis Marbury, 1892.

John Wilson (1753-1825, a highly acclaimed Scottish Professor, author, poet and outdoorsman first tied the Professor and Blue Professor while his brother and zoologist John Wilson originated the Grizzly King and Queen of the Waters. Quite an accomplished Family.

The Professor was originally a winger wet fly, as most flies before the 20th century. It quickly earned the respect of anglers and became widely popular in America’s fly boxes as well as angling literature. Soon to be featured in the first American literary work on flies, Charles Orvis’ Fishing with the Fly in 1883, then onto Mary Orvis Marbury’s Favourite Flies and Their Histories in 1892.

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Ray Bergman, the esteemed angling editor for Outdoor Life Magazine included the yellow and blue Professors in his book ‘Trout’ just before the onset of WWII in 1938.


The fly went on to become a favourite streamer and dry fly. The Professor, Blue Professor and Grizzly King all have similar dressings except for colour of the silk floss body.

Find The Hook

Heritage flies tied on PHCS6 Partridge of Redditch Adlington and Hutchinson Blind Eye (size #3/0)

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On The Waters

Todays angler, with thousands of contemporary fly patterns and materials to choose from, may consider wet flies from the golden era of fly fishing as relics and obsolete, left to the pages of a bygone era. Tied as a large wet fly, and as small as size 16 during the mayfly months, the Professor is as effective on the waters today as when John Wilson first cast it into the rivers of Scotland, Triggering strikes on the swing when even the most atural flies are refused.

Dressed on a large streamer hook with scarlet tail, mallard wing and yellow body, a proven arrangement to garnish the attention of mature, seasoned rout. Brook trout find it hard to resis and even the finicky brown trour will give chase. This is not surprising considering that brown trout are the native trout to the waters of Scotland, Ireland and ngland where the fly first gained favour.

I fish the Professor on large hooks in my home waters of Pennsylvania Appalachian mountains throughout New England to Maine. My Preffered dressing – a size 6 sproat wet fly hook and also large streamers in the Maine flatwing tradition. A single mallard wing tied flat gives the fly lively action in the current through a swing or simply left to hang “swimming” at the end of a run. The horizontal and vertical movement of this enticing arrangement can be just enough to trigger a strike out of aggression, even during the summer hatch.

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Perhaps it is the heritage of our grand outdoor pursuit that brings us to tie a classic to the end of our line, to cast a fly that has bought trout to the anglers net for centuries.


Fred Klein

Partridge of Redditch Ambassador

Fred is a fly-fishing historian, author and speaker. Professional fly tyer and fisher of early traditional flies and tackle.

"My journey in the pursuit of trout with the fly began over 40 years ago with a new fly rod and instructions to cast and drift a fly. What a gift it was. The woods and waters of Pennsylvania, the Appalachian Mountains and beyond have brought a life of admiration for the wildernessm forestsm wildlife and a thirst for what lies beyond the next bend in the stream and over the mountain".

Every day I find myself involved in fly fishing, trapping and hunting.
My endeavor is to pass on the techniques of traditional fly angling and dressings to the generations to come.
For tutorials, articles, video and classic fly galleries visit:

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