Photo by Matthew Grobert, Tightline Productions
Photo by Matthew Grobert, Tightline Productions

Guest Blogger: Paul Beel, FrankenFly

A lot of people don’t know this, but the original name for the Humpy is Goofus Bug, made popular by Pat Barnes. I’ve grabbed some excerpts out of Pat’s book “Ribbons of Blue” to help tell the story. First a brief story of how the pattern first came on the scene and then how Orvis started the “Humpy” name.

“The original fly came from California with Jack Horner. Jack was a talker. He claimed it caught fish everywhere. The fly he showed me was tied with one bunch of deer hair and one gray hackle. I was not impressed. He said he could tie one in a minute. I was still not impressed.
But later in the summer on Cliff Lake, with rising fish and a California customer, I cast one of Jack’s specials, tied to a 6X tippet. I struck a fish, lost the fly; tied on another from his box. One cast more in a different direction, another strike, another fish. This one came to net with my first fly in his mouth, leader dangling. I was impressed. I removed both flies, put the fish back, put the first fly in my hat with the leader dangling.
When I told this story to fishermen the next day they asked for a similar fly, goofy as it was. We kept busy tying this fly the rest of the summer under the name Goofus Bug.”

“In 1972, an Orvis representative asked if I knew of any new or unique dry fly patterns. I showed him the Goofus Bug. The 1973 Orvis catalog premiered a new fly called the “Humpy.”

It was Jack Dennis, Wyoming author, fly tier and tackler dealer, who really popularized the name Humpy. He blended the Goofus and Royal Wulff, using calf tail for wings, a red underbody, and moose hairs for the tail, to create what he called the “Royal Humpy.” In 1974, the fly came the focal point of the cover of the book, Western Trout Fly Tying Manual.”

So there you have it. Hopefully that helps clear some things up about the name of this great pattern.

Materials List for the Goofus Bug (aka Humpy)

Dry Fly Hook (Sizes 10-14)
Uni Thread (Use size 8/0 or 6/0 in tan, brown, gray or olive.)
Elk Hair (Natural, black, olive or dun. Use fine hair, the less hollow the better.)
Dry Fly Hackle (Grizzly and brown hackle wrapped together.)
Dry Fly Dubbing (Match the insects or try another color. Dubbing could be synthetic or natural.)

2 Comments

  1. The origins of popular flies are almost always a challenge to decipher. The Humpy or Goofus Bug is no exception. In Bruce Staples, Yellowstone Country Flies (2002), the Goofus Bug is credited to Keith Kenyon, a Montana guide and tier. “The best genesis in print of this fly is in the American Angler (Spring, 1990). In his article “Goofus Bug Evolution,” Pat Barnes credits this pattern to Keith Kenyon. Kenyon, a Montana guide and tier, secretly created it in 1944 for the Firehole River. Its effectiveness leaked out and requests for that “goofy deer hair fly” bombarded Pat and Sig in their West Yellowstone shop. Thus the name “Goofus Bug” was adopted. The name “Humpy” applies to this pattern coming from Wyoming sources.

    The original “Goofus Bug” was apparently constructed with deer hair, while Jack Dennis popularized the “Elk Hair Humpy”. According to Staples: “From what is available in fly fishing literature, Horner’s Deer Fly and Canada’s Tom Thumb are ancestors of the Goofus created in Montana. The Humpy, essentially the same fly, appeared in Jackson Hole, Wyoming in the 1950s. Ramona Bressler, Boots Allen, and Jack Dennis contributed to its development. Bressler’s Black Humpy was vastly popular, and Allen offered the Humpy in large quantities. Dennis gets credit for using gray body or blond elk rump hair to give a more durable product.

    I’ve always found this fly to be difficult to tie consistently, especially in small sizes. But as it remains a consistent offering in most online fly seller’s inventory, there’s no doubt it is an effective pattern, no matter who originated it.

  2. I started tying Jack Dennis’ version of the Humpy(Goofus bug) about 30 years ago. I Love it. Recently I put a twist on it, as so many fly tier’s do using moose hair for my tail and back, with a palmered slate gray rooster hackle through the body, which I dub with bright colored Ice dub and 2 white cdc puffs for upright wings. It looks sharp, has good float and great visibility.

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