Published Sep 1. 2020 - 1 month ago
Updated or edited Sep 1. 2020

Betters' Flies

Fran Betters was a creative tyer and originated several patterns that have become quite famous. Mike Hogue covers four of them in this article.

Fran Betters was a fly tyer from Wilimington, New York. For many years he owned a fly shop, along the banks of the West Branch of the Ausable River, just below Whiteface Mountain in the Adirondacks. Fran was a creative tyer and originated several patterns that have become quite famous. Several years ago I purchased a collection of flies tied by Fran. Since many of you have never seen any of these original flies, I thought I would share them with you. These are all his patterns tied by him.

Betters' flies
Betters' flies and business card
Mike Hogue
Ausable Wulff
Ausable Wulff
Mike Hogue

Ausable Wulff

Perhaps Fran’s most famous fly is the Ausable Wulff. Originally developed in 1964, Fran observed that a good many insects had rusty orange coloring in the bodies, eyes and thoraxes. He began looking for materials to use and discovered Australian Opossum fur. His originals used the natural rusty orange but soon the demand for this pattern exceeded his supply of the material and he began dying the fur a rusty orange to get more of the sought out color. Fran preferred to use a long shank hook to get the fly to balance.

Ausable Wulff
Pattern type: 
Dry fly
Originator: 
Fran Betters

A classic Fran Betters pattern

Materials: 
Hook
Mustad 9671, Daiichi 1710 or Kamasan B820 size 12-16
Thread
Danville Fire Fluorescent Orange Thread 6/0
Tail
Woodchuck Guard Hair
Body
Rusty Orange Australian Opossum fur. A sub are Wapsi Burnt Orange Awesome Possum Dub #APO13 or Hareline Dubbin #HD16 Rusty Orange
Wing
White Calf Tail
Hackle
Brown and Grizzly mix or Cree
Difficulty: 
Easy

The Usual
The Usual
Mike Hogue

The Usual

One of Fran’s long time customers was Bill Phillips. Fran created a fly made out of snowshoe hair for Bill. When people asked Bill what fly he was using he replied, “The Usual”. Since the fly had no other name it stuck. The original Usual was tied with hot pink or hot orange thread. The body was made of the underfur from the snowshoe feet, with the guard hair is used for the wings and tails. I often fish this in pale yellow and also rusty orange for mayfly hatches.
When working with snowshoe, break the toes to gain access to the best fur. The toes of each foot contain the ideal hair. Guard hair from the base of the foot doesn’t have as many of the hydrophobic floating qualities. Tie the wings and tail very bushy as the material thins out when wet.

The Usual
Pattern type: 
Dry fly
Originator: 
Fran Betters

Fran Betters' renowned snow shoe hare dry fly.

Materials: 
Hook
Mustad 94840 , Daiichi 1180, Kamasan B420 size 12-16
Thread
Hot Pink, Hot Orange, Yellow or Tan 6/0 Danville
Tail
Snowshoe Rabbit Guard Hair
Body
Snowshoe Underfur
Wing
Snowshoe Guard Hair
Difficulty: 
Easy

Haystack
Haystack
Mike Hogue

The Haystack

Fran developed this fly in high school. Several patterns have been derived from this fly including the Compara Dun and Sparkle Dun along with the X Caddis. Betters originally used Key Deer for the wing. These are smallish deer that live in the Florida Keys. Key deer has short hair with small tips. Today this deer is quite difficult to locate and I believe it to be protected. Modern substitutes are Nature Spirit’s Compara Hair, X Caddis Hair or Hareline Dubbin”s Coastal Deer Hair. Regular deer hair is too coarse and too long for this fly. Betters often used Australian Opossum for the body and muskrat fur.

The Haystack
Pattern type: 
Dry fly
Originator: 
Fran Betters

The original deer hair dun fly, originated by Fran Betters

Materials: 
Hook
Mustad 9671, Daiichi 1710 or Kamasan B420
Thread
Black 6/0
Tail
Compara Hair, Coastal Deer or X Caddis Hair
Body
Natural Australian Opossum or Muskrat Fur
Wing
Compara Hair, Coastal Deer or X Caddis Hair
Difficulty: 
Medium

Ausable Bomber
Ausable Bomber
Mike Hogue

Ausable Bomber

The Ausable Bomber is a fly Fran developed from the Bomber series of spun deer hair flies used in Canada for Atlantic Salmon. For many years, I had never seen the originals and based my flies on those. Better’s Bomber is significantly smaller than the traditional Miramichi Bombers. These are highly effective to use for a dry dropper rig. I like to skate this and strip the fly fast across the surface. This is one of my favorite patterns to use. You can use this for big stone flies and you can tie this up to a size 6 and also tie it in pale yellow. The Bomber is tied using the same materials as the Wulff. Often I tie the Wulff on a dry hook and tie the Bomber on bigger hooks in bigger sizes. The wing is tied facing over the eye of the hook in a single clump.

Ausable Bomber
Pattern type: 
Dry fly
Originator: 
Fran Betters

A hackled bomber style dry fly originated by Fran Betters.

Materials: 
Hook
Mustad 9671, Daiichi 1710 or Kamasan B820 size 10-14
Thread
Danville Fire Fluorescent Orange Thread 6/0
Tail
Woodchuck Guard Hair
Hackle
Brown and Grizzly mix or Cree Palmer wrapped up the body
Body
Rusty Orange Australian Opossum fur. A good sub is Wapsi Burnt Orange Awesome Possum Dub #APO13 or Hareline Hareline Dubbin #HD16 Rusty Orange
Wing
White Calf Tail
Difficulty: 
Medium

Fly mosaic
Glass Mosaic
Mike Hogue

Comments

Thanks!...

Hi - I fly fish for westslope cutthroat in the east kootenays; and these Betters' patterns are some of my go-tos. I've long wanted a copy of his out-of-print book on his patterns. Perhaps Stackpole or some other outdoors oriented publisher would do a run?? Thanks for the post.

.

Log in or register to pre-fill name on comments, add videos, user pictures and more.
Read more about why you should register.
 

Since you got this far …


The GFF money box

… I have a small favor to ask.

Long story short

Support the Global FlyFisher through several different channels, including PayPal.

Long story longer

The Global FlyFisher has been online since the mid-90's and has been free to access for everybody since day one – and will stay free for as long as I run it.
But that doesn't mean that it's free to run.
It costs money to drive a large site like this.

See more details about what you can do to help in this blog post.