Earle Clarence Wilson
1898 – 1966
Earle Clarence Wilson was born in Little River, New Brunswick on July 14, 1889. He was the son of the late Sarah (nee Tucker) and Merritt Wilson. Like his father before him, he worked in the woods and did construction work until he became employed with the Canadian National Railway. He worked as a conductor and through this occupation he met many people. A lot of the people he met shared his interest in fly tying.
Earle Wilson in 1962
Earle was a close friend of Fred Hollander and Ira Gruber, a couple of well-known Americans fly tiers in the Doaktown area. Watching them tie was probably what inspired Earle to start tying in the mid 1940's. From that time, until 1966, he devoted himself to fly tying. After 20 years at the vise, he became proficient at tying most types and patterns of flies.
He experimented with materials trying to develop patterns that simulated aquatic insects. He used these fly creations to entice the trout and salmon in the many rivers that he fished. In the late 1950's, Earle developed a dunn colored stone fly with a yellow egg sack. It became a very successful pattern for catching trout.
Earle had an old pet cat that was often interrupted his fly tying. The cat was great company, always staying close to Earle. However, there were times when the cat got in the way. Earle liked to organize his tying by cutting and laying out the materials for dozens of flies at a time. These neatly arranged bundles of fur, feathers, wool and tinsels drew the cat like a moth is drawn to a flame. This was very upsetting to Earle and sometimes there were a few choice words uttered that cause even old Satan shame. In the end though, the job got done.
The fishermen in the city of Moncton were especially familiar with Earle. It was there that he passed on his knowledge in the art of fly tying to others, especially Walter Melanson, George MacDonald and Clint Estabrooks, to name just a few.
Earle Wilson 1959
A lot of anglers went to Earle to ask him to duplicate patterns that were very successful for them. In most cases, the anglers had special flies that had the hooks broken off them. Some wanted Earle to disassemble the broken fly and use the same materials on a new hook. Needless to say, the time involved was never worth the effort and Earle would nicely tell the angler where to go. Those few anglers had no idea what was involved in the tying of a salmon fly.
Earle's favorite hair-wing fly was a green butt “Black Bear.” He loved all the fully dressed feather-wing patterns. He tied hundreds and hundreds of hair-wing and Classic feather-wing patterns.
Earle Wilson was also a rod builder. Hector MacKenzie, manager of Trans Canada Airlines in Moncton, brought a material called Tonka Kane from India that Earle used for making the fishing rods.
Earle fished on just about every river in the province. He spent many days fishing salmon and trout in the Peticodiac River and its tributaries. His favorite rivers though, were the Northwest and Southwest Miramichi. He especially loved fishing “Dean's Bar” on the Main Southwest Miramichi.
It was in the early 1960's, in the Cains River that he caught his largest salmon. The fish weighed 28 pounds.
Although Earle experienced great salmon fishing in the 1960's, he had serious concerns for the salmon and its habitat. He was concerned about the lack of enforcement officers on the rivers and the build-up of beaver dams in the upper stretches of the rivers leading to the spawning beds.
Earle Wilson expected the best of a man and he always gave the best of himself.
Hackle: Dark Dun
Rib: Dark Dun
Wing: Darkest Starling
This collection of flies tied by Earle Wilson was presented to Dewey Gillespie by the Wilson family in 1996. Flies photographed on January 31, 2005.