by Matt O'Neal of Savage Flies: Find him on his YouTube channel at Savage Flies
Now I’ve got an interesting dry fly for you today, that you probably won't find in a lot of books out there. I came across it recently when flipping through Kenneth Bay's 1979 American Fly Tier's Handbook.
History of Burr's Bright Dry Fly Pattern
The pattern sounded familiar, but I couldn't remember where I'd seen it before. So I looked through a dozen or so of my books that it might have been in and found it in Randall Scott Stetzer's Flies, The best 1,000, published in 192. Now Stetzer has it tied a bit differently. First off, he doesn't have a wing on it and his tail is white hackle fibers instead of, get this, polar bear. But about the original design, it was created by Walter Burr...who, by the way, didn't name the fly after himself.
He submitted it to the United Fly Tiers in the late 60's. The editor of their round table gave it the name, Burr's Bright. How Burr originally tied it uses polar bear fur for the tail. Which I'm assuming was easier to get back back then. I do have a patch from a bear harvested before 1972 (SO IT’S LEGAL). But I think people who would tie this today will substitute white hackle fibers for the tail. Burr tied his with a huge fan wing made of mallard breast feathers. Which does have a couple of advantages.
Advantages of Burr's Bright Fly
First, the fly is going to be easy to see, both for the fish and the fisher. Second, it may help if you have a more delicate presentation. But it's got on major downfall. This thing is going to be a tippet twister. When fishing a fly like this, you're not going to want to false cast a lot and you're probably not going to be laying it out there 60 to 70 feet.
Now I would consider this 100% an attractor dry fly and Burr said it's been a great low-light fly, being effective right after dawn or right before sunset.
One more note on Walter Burr...I haven't come across any of his other patterns in my library., but I did find a 1973 article in The New York Times that had him listed as a panelist at one of Theodore Gordon Fly Fisher's Annusal Dinner. So he at least hung out with some of the elite fly fishermen and tier's of the day. So this fly, tippet twister or not, is a pretty cool fly pattern.
Burr's Bright Fly Recipe
Hook: #12 dry fly
Tail: White hackle fibers (or polar bear if tied with original materials)
Hackle: Grizzly or white hackle