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
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.”
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.
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.
Special originated and tied by Fred Grant
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