Randolph Douglas “Randy” Giffin


Randolph Douglas “Randy” D. Giffin was born August 27, 1926 in the small town of Middleton in the heart of Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley.  He moved to Saint John, New Brunswick in 1953 and was employed with Mott, Myles and Chatwin Ltd. for 38 years. 

As a boy, he would bait fish in a pond adjacent to the family homestead.  One day, while fishing from a raft on the pond, he was unable to hook a large rising trout using his then preferred method of bait fishing.  After trying a lure, still with no success, he went home and clipped some hair from the family collie and tied it onto a hook with sewing thread.  With one cast, a 17” trout was hooked and landed.  This was the beginning of a long career of fly fishing and his future interest in fly tying.

After moving to Saint John, Randy joined the Saint John Angler’s Association in 1954 and met many prominent fly tiers at meetings held in the Royal Hotel on King Street.  Bill Wetmore, a work colleague and fellow member of the Association, was kind enough to introduce Randy to the formal art of fly tying.  Many evenings were spent learning the names of materials and how to combine them into many successful patterns.  His first formal flies were used fishing for brown trout on Little River in East Saint John and for brook trout on the Hammond River.  In 1956, he hooked and landed his first salmon, a grilse, on the Southwest Miramichi. The fly used was a Silver Grey that he had tied on streamer hook.  As the years passed and many more salmon were landed, fly tying became a hobby and passion.



By Randy Giffin


In 1962, after fishing on the Miramichi for a number of years, Randy began to look through his many fly tying books for a bright fly to bring salmon up from the depths of many of the deeper pools on the river.  He found a streamer, in John Veniard’s FLY DRESSERS GUIDE, called the Chief Needahbeh.  After deciding that this was the type of fly he was looking for, he experimented with it on a #6 - 4x hook with two inch long yellow and orange feather wings and excluded the jungle cock included on the original pattern as tied by Chief Needahbeh.  It proved to be an immediate success and Randy has tied many hundreds of that pattern since.

            In 1975, Randy purchased a property on the Hammond River and continued to fish for salmon there as well as on the Miramichi.  In 1958 he landed his first salmon on the Hammond and became familiar with many of the pools on the river.  One of the better pools was the Titus Mill Pool, a large pool that required long casts.  He found that the feather wing Chief would not stand up to the strain of those long casts.  This was the beginning of the hair wing version of the Chief using yellow and orange calf tail for the wing.  The problem of wing breakage was solved and the Hair Wing Chief became a very successful pattern.  It was, in fact, the fly pattern used when the largest salmon recorded to date (32 lbs) was landed on the Hammond River by John Storrie in 1982.  The mounted salmon is presently located in the Hammond River Angling Association Conservation Centre, in Nauwigewauk, along with the Hair Wing Chief that it was caught on.

            The feather wing version of the Chief is included in FISHING ATLANTIC SALMON  - The Flies and Patterns by Joseph D. Bates and Pamela Bates Richards, along with the original version as tied by Chief Needahbeh and a version as tied by Warren Duncan.

Randy is the first to tie the hair wing version of the Chief Needahbeh, which has been quite successful for Atlantic salmon both black and bright. The Featherwing and hairwing version are shown below tied by Randy in 2007