Frank Lawrence Rickard
1920 – 1993
Lawrence Rickard was born on January 11, 1920 at the settlement of Upper
Brighton, situated just north of the mouth of Becaguimac
(River of Salmon), or Hartland, New Brunswick. He was the son of the late Lottie
B. (nee Lawrence) and George T. Rickard.
was a tall, thin man with a very shy disposition. He never liked getting his
picture taken, and he had an ability of quickly assessing a person’ spersonality.
He had a way of identifying trust,
sincerity and honesty in a person. If he didn’t take a liking to you he would
let you know right up front. After that he would distance himself from you, but
there wasn’t many people who Frank Rickard didn’t like, and even fewer who
didn’t immediately take a liking to him. He was extremely generous and enjoyed
helping those who were not as fortunate as himself. As a young boy he loved the
outdoors and fishing was his passion. He always enjoyed being in the woods and
after finishing school went to work logging at Canterbury until he got his call
to go and serve with the army in the Second World War. When he first enlisted
in the army he was a member of the Saint John Fusilier’s. When he went overseas
he became a member of the Cameron Highlander’s of Ottawa.
After the war ended he went to work in the woods in
British Columbia and then worked at an airport in Calgary before returning to
New Brunswick. Shortly after arriving back in Hartland he went to work at
Aiton’s Drug Store where he prepared orders and drove truck. He spent nearly a
decade working at Aiton’s Drug Store before going to work for Hatfield
Industries. After he finished working for Hatfield’s he spent the remainder of
his life working as a carpenter and painter, a guide and fly tyer.
He began tying flies in the early 1950’s. He
started tying his own flies because he couldn’t get the ones he wanted. Frank
was a self-taught fly tyer who learned the art by studying the construction of
different flies he was either given, purchased, found, or that he seen in fly
tying books. In the beginning he would carefully dissect many of these flies to
see how they were tied. He used hair fur and feathers from local game and
domestic animals, but most of his fly tying material was purchased in Quebec.
His hooks were imported from England.
was a natural at tying flies. He picked it up real quick and it wasn’t long
before he was tying more flies than he could ever fish with so he started
selling them. It didn’t take long for Frank to figure out that he could make
money from tying flies for others. He could tie just about any pattern that the
angler wanted. His brother Clinton Rickard has a framed presentation hanging in
his home that contains 81 different fly patterns tied by Frank.
In the early years of his
fly tying he concentrated on tying the fully dressed patterns. With materials
needed to tie the fully dressed flies being so expensive and time consuming to
tie he began focusing his attention on the more common hair wing and streamer
flies. He was able to offer such a variety of patterns to the customer, and
there was no shortage of customers. He sold flies to people from all over the
world. One would find it difficult to imagine whom all the people could be that
would have purchased Frank Rickard’s salmon flies. If we consider only the
people from around the world who came to New Brunswick to fish the Tobique and
Saint John Rivers, it gives us a good idea just how many people would have been
exposed to Frank Rickard’s flies. Frank was considered the Wally Doak of fly
tying in his area. His salmon flies were available just about everywhere. We
know they were distributed extensively to just about every store and outfitter
from Bath to the Quebec border. We know this from information provided by Mr.
Raymond Seeley and Thomas Underhill who worked as travelling salesmen for
Aiton’s Drug store. Mr. Seeley distributed them for nearly 30 years, and Mr.
Underhill distributed them from 1983 until Frank’s death in 1993. Both
salesmen carried two big cedar boxes that were divided with trays that held
several thousand flies each. While doing their sales route they would
distribute the flies. A few of the businesses that purchased and resold
Frank’s flies were:
Robert Miller’s General Store, Riley Brook
Arthurette’s General Store, Arthurette
Buckingham Department Store, Florenceville
Fineley Sports, Plaster Rock
Gaunce’s Grocery Store, Bristol and
Lawrence Green’s Barber Shop, Perth
Lewis’s Grocery, Juniper
Reno Roberte Store, Riley Brook
Shaw’s Auto Parts, Plaster Rock
Till’s, Four Falls
There was also a man in Wapske who sold many
of Frank Rickard’s flies, and the famous Boston Red Sox baseball player, Ted
Williams who fished a lot at the Hartland Salmon Pool, purchased Frank’s flies.
Frank carried boxes of his flies with him
wherever he went. He always had them with him in his truck as he travelling
from job to job, and sold them to whomever, whenever and wherever he could.
Frank Rickard’s flies came with a money back
or replacement guarantee. The guarantee was a very important part of the
selling strategy provided by both travelling salesmen. Frank insisted that they
provide the guarantee with every order.
The majority of Frank’s flies distributed by
Mr. Seeley and Mr. Underhill were tied on double hooks. The only single flies
sold were a “Mickey Finn” and a “Trout Finn. Every fly was individually package
and signed by Frank. The package also displayed the name of the fly and size of
The flies that Frank tied for selling were
always dressed with a heavy wing. He learned very early that a fly with a
sparsely dressed wing would not sell. According to Frank the angler would
always buy the heavier dressed fly. However, the flies that Frank tied for his
own personal use were tied with a sparse wing. He often said that he had more
success with them.
Frank Rickard didn’t like tying flies during
the fishing season unless it was absolutely necessary. That necessity came only
into play under the following circumstances. Whenever he needed a particular
pattern that he happened to run out of, or if an angling friend requested it.
If he was going to be on the river away from home he always took a case
containing his fly tying equipment. He didn’t tie flies during the summer to
build up his inventory. The flies tied during the summer months were tied for
more personal reasons and if there happened to be people around when he tied it
certainly helped promote him. Frank tried to use as much spare time as he could
during the summer for fishing and guiding.
In the fall of the year, after the fishing
season ended, Frank would start tying flies. He would take inventory of the all
the flies he hadn’t sold throughout the fishing season, and then he would make a
list of the flies that sold the best. From these two lists he would calculate
how many flies he would tie over the winter. Throughout the winter months,
right up to the start of the fishing season he would tie. He spent hour upon
hour, day after day tying flies. He would tie hundreds and hundreds of flies in
the months between the salmon seasons. Once he filled his quota he stopped.
Frank liked to guide for two to three weeks when
the salmon season first opened in the spring of the year. He was a really good
friend with Max Vickers, Clarence Mountain and Arch Jardine, all of whom were
very experience guides working for the Doctor’s Island Club in Blackville, New
Brunswick. In the summertime he would go to Doctor’s Island to guide his good
friend, Robert C. “Bob” Albee Jr., an American businessman and member of the
Doctor’s Island Club in Blackville.
Frank Rickard originated two fly patterns in
the late 1950’s. Both patterns are usually tied on large hooks. The first is
the “Albee Special”, originated after his good friend Robert Albee. The pattern
is identical to the “Mickey Finn” but with a white beard added. This fly is
considered a real killer during all water conditions, but especially during high
Frank with a 20 pound salmon he caught in
One year Frank and Bob were supposed to go on a
fishing trip in Quebec. For whatever reason Frank couldn’t make it so Bob went
on alone. While in Quebec Bob used the “Albee Special” and the success he had
with that fly was tremendous. He called Frank from Quebec to tell him that he’d
caught his limit every day and the fish he caught were big salmon. Frank used
the fly a lot on the Miramichi and had great luck with it also. It is a fly
that can be fished effectively at any time during salmon season.
The second fly is one he called the “Sacred
Cow”. He sometimes referred to it as the “Holy Cow”. It is a very simple,
sparsely dressed fly consisting of a medium brown wool body and two gray
feathers for the wings. Max Vickers can attest to the fly’s effectiveness for
Frank with a big salmon caught in 1960
Frank was an exceptional angler who could
cast a really long line. His cast was straight and powerful. With his casting
ability he could accurately set a fly anywhere he desired. This could be
witnessed when he fished below the Hartland Bridge at a spot known as the
Dungeon. Frank wanted to get the fish to stop and hold below the Hartland
Bridge. In order to get them to do so he took his 20-foot canoe and loaded it
with great big boulders, as big as the canoe could safely transport, and he
paddled them out into the middle of the river where he dropped them overboard.
This created a resting spot for the fish, but in order to fish over the boulders
one had to cast a real long line, or fish it from a boat. With Frank’s casting
ability he had no trouble fishing the rocks from shore. He caught many a fish
Frank’s favourite river was the Saint John,
where he spent a lot of time fishing his favourite pool known as the Dungeon.
In the spring of the year he looked forward to taking his boat and motor and
going to fish at the Doctor’s Island Pool at Blackville. Burpee’s Bar, situated
at Fredericton was another spot where Frank spent a lot of time angling.
Frank Rickard’s fly tying heyday spanned two
and a half decades from 1960 to 1985. His closest friends that shared his fly
tying enthusiasm during the 60’s and 70’s maintain that Frank tied an annual
estimate of 7000 flies.
Frank was 73-years old when he passed away,
but he tied flies right up to a couple of weeks before his death in 1993.
Fluorescent red floss or yarn
Flat silver tinsel
Oval silver tinsel
small bunch of yellow bucktail or calftail, over which is a small bunch of red
followed by a small bunch of yellow. The wing is tied very sparse.
Sacred Cow (Holy Cow)
Body: Medium brown wool or floss
Wing: Gray feathers