Jack Gartside has died. He was a brilliantly innovative fly designer and great writer who may end up being best remembered for being photographed using a big inflatable giraffe as a float tube on a striper flat. Gartside was dead serious about fishing and fly-tying, but went about his life with a mischievous twinkle in his eye. He was intellectual and irreverent but also kind and gentlemanly. And he invented some dynamite flies: the Gurgler, the Sparrow, the Soft-Hackle Streamer, to name a few of the most famous.
I met Jack a couple of times and thought the world of him. He gave a talk at the Albany, N.Y. Trout Unlimited chapter a few years back and introduced a new pattern, made with the soft feathers from a hen’s backside. Chain-smoking all through his slide show in a hotel meeting room, he called his fly the Chicken Poop and told us how effective it was and why. There was no reason not to believe every word.