Sunday, July 17, 2011

Quick Sip: Fran Betters Ausable Wulff

I fished the Ausable River for the first time with my buddies Ross and Gary in 2007. Of course, the journey to this storied water wouldn't have been complete without a trip to the Adirondack Sport Shop owned and operated by Fran Betters. He sat right in the middle of the shop tying flies and dispensing advice. I can still remember him saying "Flies are living things. Give them a twitch now and then. You'll catch more fish". I've got a box of his flies sitting on my tying desk. They serve as inspiration as I make my creations.

Fran tied for a river and region that favored impressionism in tying vs. realism. The trout on those high gradient, fast flowing streams have little time to consider their options so the flies had to be visible and say "food" without looking like anything in particular. The Ausable Wulff, the Haystack and the Usual are all big, bulky flies that float like corks and are a joy to see fish crash on the surface.

Below is a gem of a video showing a production tyer tying one of the flies for which he is so famous.


  1. A wonderful fly tyer, and creator of some of the best flies ever.
    I tie and fish his Bomber, and Wulff, and they always produce. I had the pleasure of talking to Fran in his shop several years ago. He told me a secret to tying the Wulff and Bomber that makes it so much easier.

    Thanks Steve for this post.

  2. I had trouble putting that much material on a standard Mustad 94840. He suggested I use Mustad 9671 hooks. Bingo. It produces a better fly.

    If you look at the hook used in the video, you'll see a somewhat longer hook.

  3. Thanks.Any Fran stuff is good stuff.I also have heard him say,"don't collect my flies, fish them"....and I do but with great care and personal fan-fare....waterworker

  4. Yeah, he said that too. When I got home, I couldn't resist ordering up a collection to keep. They're such unique gems. Rough. Utilitarian. Unlike anything you see in a fly bin at a fly shop.

  5. Fran makes custom rods that cast like a rocket! The unique rosewood handle "keeps your thumb where it is suppose to be," according to Fran. It's a little heaver than most rods; but, it is a dry fly cannon.

  6. I've heard his rods were very good. Never got around to ordering one.

  7. Very cool post, memory, and video. And I just noticed -- your new header is fantastic. Well done!

    1. Thanks, E. Trying to keep that header fresh.

      One of the things I learned after meeting Fran was to take the time to talk to these legends when you get the chance. They're not going to be around forever. Nor, sadly, will we.

  8. One of the nicest guys and a "real" fly tier! Tied flies for the fish!