YARMOUTH — It sounds like the plug for a guy who guides for a big outdoor company and has written fly fishing books and been recognized by national fishing organizations. But Macauley Lord truly believes the ugly fly on the end of a line creates a fish-leaping synergy with a rushing river that your pretty little peacock-laced streamer will not.

In fact, Lord is such a proponent of the truly plain, mundane, even “ugly” fly, he taught a class of three dozen experienced fly fishermen about his simple jig streamer two weeks ago.

“I think most fly tyers will tell you they like realism. That it is very gratifying to tie something that looks like (an insect). Just like painters like realistic paintings,” Lord said. “And it is gratifying to see a fly recipe in a book and to make it look like that fly. There is a validation. But the fish don’t care. Really, they’re pretty stupid.”

Lord, one of the original fly casting instructors at L.L. Bean’s Outdoor Discovery School, was the guest fly tyer two weeks ago at the Sebago Trout Unlimited’s winter fly tying class at the First Parish Church in Yarmouth. The classes are held every other Tuesday in the winter, usually with well-known or commercial fly tyers.

Lord’s class was a step up in level and a step outside the norm.

Former Maine head of fisheries John Boland sat quietly listening to Lord’s reasoning. The L.L. Bean fly casting instructor preached performance over prettiness, and having a blast over biology.


And Lord absolutely swears his flies work.

“I haven’t heard anything I disagree with,” Boland said.

If fly fishing is religion to some fly casters, tying flies are small prayers to Lord.

And the casting instructor knows quite a bit about both, as a fly casting instructor who has been recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Federation of Fly Fishers, and as a practicing chaplain.

But Lord goes against the grain in extolling that flies that work are not the ones you hang on a wall.

“We tie incredibly realistic flies. But they’re not realistic at all,” Lord said. “If it pulsates, if it has a life, a fish will eat it.”


It is, to Lord, more important to get the fly moving in the water, and get it to drop down to where the fish are in a river. That’s the trick to fishing well, he said.

And the biggest thing this fly casting king of 25 years seeks on a river is a sinking fly.

“The beauty of a body like this is it sinks incredibly, so if the fish are deep you can get it remarkably deep. And if you lose it, you don’t cry because you spent three minutes tying it,” Lord said as he taught the class to tie his jig-style streamer.

“It goes so deep so fast, it’s faster than any other streamer.”

Lord’s technique for finding tiable materials is common sense as well. He doesn’t necessarily jump at rabbit, peacock or deer hair. He just takes any old synthetic material, ties it around his jig hook and sees how it fares in his bathtub.

“Jig it up and down. How does it move? You need to test things,” he said.


Make no mistake, Lord does not discourage a flashy body, a “jazziness” in a fly’s colors or the overall presentation of “eye candy.” He just doesn’t believe flies need to be pristine, intricate or fancy.

And Lord promises his ugly-fly approach is grounded in science. He said fish scientists at a fishing company years ago ran a study that changed his views about flies.

“They ran plastic shapes past an aquarium full of bass. And the one the bass reacted to was the simplest. It wasn’t wacky or fancy. It looked like a cigar,” Lord said.


Deirdre Fleming can be reached at 791-6452 or at: dfleming@pressherald.comTwitter: FlemingPph

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