Frederick Redfus Grant

1901 - 1979

Tying flies is a very tedious job, and it is very hard on the eyes even under the best of lighting conditions.  Fred Grant learned to tie salmon flies, and taught others the art years ago, by the light of a kerosene lamp. 

Fred Grant was born on September 15, 1901 at East Cloverdale, a little settlement situated between Maplewood & Coldstream, on the 104 Provincial Highway, Parish of Bright, County of York, New Brunswick.  He was the son of the late Ida (nee Harrington) and George Frederick Grant.

In 1924 he married Dora Leatha Briggs, and together they raised 15 children.

 

Fred Grant painting in the early 1970’s

 

When Fred started tying flies in 1931 it was more out of necessity than anything else.  Fred needed flies to fish with, and during the 1930’s there wasn’t a lot of money to buy tied salmon flies.  Even if you had the money there weren’t many places you could go to buy them anyway.  Fred was a guide so he also needed salmon flies for the fishermen he guided on the Miramichi River. The wealthy fishermen came from far away places, and Fred soon learned these fishermen had lots of money, and they didn’t mind paying for success.  If a fly they fished with was a good one, as sure as anything it was a seller.  The want-to-be-successful fisherman was willing to pay to have the fly that caught the fish. So, Fred Grant figured if he could tie flies that would catch fish, then he was sure to make a few extra dollars.

There wasn't anyone around in the area where he lived who could teach Fred the art of fly tying. But, as it turned out he didn't have a real difficult time learning how it was done. You see, Fred Grant was a very talented individual. He was a taxidermist, a trapper and an artist. Fred could paint beautify pictures. He also did drawings that were featured in the Telegraph Journal in the early 1950's, so with his talent tying flies just seemed to come natural to him. He even taught the art of fly and among his students were daughter Anna Grant-Fogerty and his grandson Douglas A. White. Ann went on to tie flies for nearly fifty years and Douglas carried on the tradition and today he operates his own business, Tammerack Sports, in Juniper, New Brunswick.

As a young boy Fred was an avid fisherman.  By the time he reached his teens he was very knowledgeable about the fish’s habitat.  When Fred became a regular guide for Woodford Craig, and the Sweet Brothers, on the upper Miramichi River he could read and judge water conditions, which enabled him to successfully select the type of fly that would enhance both his own and his Sport’s chances of hooking that great big salmon.

 

 

Fred Grant, in the early 1940’s, holding two nice salmon taken at the Bigger Brook Pool, situated before the Crooked Rapids on the Miramichi River above Boiestown, New Brunswick.

 

In the mid 1930’s Fred Grant originated a fly pattern that proved to be successful.  He named the fly the “Grant Special.”  The fly evolved in this way.  Fred was asked to tie the “Reliable” but he didn’t have the Bronze Mallard feather for the wing.  He decided to use grey mallard instead and during the tying process also added a second tail of Golden Pheasant crest just in front of the yellow butt.  Fred tied the “Grant Special” in this presentation, and used florescent green floss for the butt.  The original patter calls for yellow floss to be used for the butt.  Fred and a lot of other fishermen used this pattern with much success.  It is one of a few flies that is a good salmon catcher, and it even earned him a few good dollars.  The “Grant Special” was his favourite feather-wing fly.  In June 1940, while fishing on his favourite river, the Miramichi, he caught a 20-pound salmon on it.  Fred Grant’s favourite hair-wing salmon fly was the “Cosseboom.”  Of all the flies he tied, and liked, Fred Grant never tied or fished with “bugs.”

 

 Fred sold his flies at numerous places throughout New Brunswick.  Many of his flies were shipped to the United States.  In 1945, he started selling flies to Aton Drug Store in Hartland, and Raymond Sweet’s Store at Juniper Station.  For many, many years these two stores sold only Fred Grant’s flies.

Fred’s wife the late Dora Grant, who was interviewed in 1997 when she was 92, clearly remembered how she would dye the feathers her husband imported from England, and used for tying the hundreds of “Silver Doctor”, and “Black Dose” patterns.  She also helped prepare the capes from many domestic Barred Rocks, white and brown roosters.  After the flies were tied, she would sort them and attach them to cards to wait transporting to the wanting customers. There were many orders to fill and Fred needed all the help he could get. Dora and Fred Grant worked extremely hard.  They had to, for they had fifteen children to raise.

From 1952 to 1962, Fred worked as a Fire Warden for the Nashwaak Pulp and Paper Company.  

Fishing Atlantic salmon is a very personal sport.  Every angler has his or her own little personal do’s and don’ts.  Fred Grant was no different.  For example: Fred liked to go fishing with his wife.  They caught many salmon together.  In the fall of 1970, Dora caught a 23- pound salmon.  She caught it on a “Brown Fairy”, tied by Fred. 

Fred liked to fish when it was raining, and he always tried to be on the river whenever it did.  He never went fishing if the wind was blowing from the north. Did these things really make a difference?  Fred caught a lot of fish!

Fred Grant tied flies for 47 years.  On May 8, 1979, he died after a lengthy illness.  He was a fly tier that represented the Miramichi, Nashwaak, and Saint John Rivers.  He was a gentleman who had the unending respect of the many fishermen who lived along the Miramichi, and an equalled respect from the many more fishermen who visited from far away places.  But, no other place echoes the memories and missing of Fred Grant louder than the people around Juniper, on the upper stretch of the mighty Miramichi River, New Brunswick.

 

Grant Special originated and tied by Fred Grant

 

 

Grant Special

 

Head:                      Black

Tip:                         Oval silver tinsel

Tail:                        Red floss or red hackle fibers

Butt:                       Florescent lime green floss

Second Tail:          Golden Pheasant crest

Body:                     Black floss or wool

Rib:                         Oval silver tinsel

Throat Hackle:      Reddish brown

Wing:                     Strands of Golden Pheasant tippets topped with speckled Teal