Created by Chester Mills of the famed William Mills and Son Tackle Co. of New York City, the Woodruff was named for Johnny Woodruff who was the first one to successfully fish the pattern on the upper Beaverkill in the Catskill Mountains of New York.
Mills gave Woodruff a handful of these flies and asked him to give them a try on his next outing. As Woodruff was a member of the Brooklyn Fly Fishers Club who owned a stretch of water on the upper Beaverkill, in 1920 he put the flies to the test. None of his fellow club members thought too much of the fly until an evening hatch broke out and no one caught a fish… except Johnny Woodruff.
Harold Smedley wrote in his book, “Fly Patterns and their Origins,” from 1944, “The rise proved disappointing to everyone but Johnny, who took a basketful of handsome fish…”
This story, according to Mike Valla in his “Tying the Founding Flies,” is how the popular Catskill fly got its name.
Matt O’Neal of Savage Flies, who has a terrific YouTube channel where he shows how to tie many different flies, including the Michigan Caddis. Be sure to check it out and give him a follow! Watch his video below to see how to tie the Woodruff, an interesting dry fly pattern with a great story.
Woodruff Dry Fly Recipe
Hook: #12-16 dry fly
Wing: Grizzly hackle tips from 1/2 Rooster Neck
Tail: Grizzly hackle fibers from 1/2 Rooster Neck
Body: Rabbit blend, ~90% olive brown, 10% yellow
Hackle: Brown hackle from 1/2 Rooster Neck