Lee Wulff Clip

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by GAT, Oct 9, 2013.

  1. I received this in an e-mail from a fellow "old guy" fly angler. To us, the name Lee Wulff is a flyfisher's household term but I keep forgetting that some of the new folks have no idea who he was or his great contribution to the sport of fly angling. For me, Lee Wulff was the heart of flyfishing.


    Some rare, vintage film footage of Lee Wulff and Curt Gowdy fishing for large brook trout. Don't know how much you guys know about Lee Wulff, but he was one of the great fly fishing innovators of all time. His famous Wulff-series flies are still very popular and effective, and his original 'Tackle-Pac' fishing vest was the forerunner of today's fly vests. He once landed a 9# salmon on the 3' tip section of a fly rod (with the reel taped to the bottom of the section) as a stunt, just to see if he could do it.

    Most of the time he used a 6' bamboo fly rod (there were no graphite rods back then), and was a superb caster. Gowdy had a regular sport show, with lots of fishing episodes for ABC's Wild World of Sports. There isn't a lot of filmage of Lee Wulff around any more, so this one is a real treat for those of us who grew up idolizing this great angler.

  2. Awesome! I remember watching The American Sportsman that Gowdy hosted with my dad when I was young.
  3. Thanks for that it brought back alot of memories like" the agony of the feet"
  4. Same here I was kid and I would stay close to the house so I could come in and watch The American Sportsman. I remember the first time I saw them fishing in Montana. I told myself someday I would fish there. I ended up living there for 17 glorious years, and find myslef going back every chance I get. Thx Curt!
  5. Wow! That was a seriously cool clip. The drag on those old reels wasn't exactly smooth, was it? I've never seen brookies that big and it was awesome to see them come up for that big dry.
  6. Thanks for sharing that GAT! Lee Wulff was certainly a self promoter, but as far as I know he was also the first to champion the merits of catch and release fishing. It's interesting to watch what passed for good fish handling in 1986, or earlier - yikes! Not to mention that Mr. Gowdy could have used a lesson on how to net a trout; I've never seen so many filmed examples of how to not do it. That was great comedy. It was also noteworthy to see how severe a bend Gowdy put in his rod tip when netting and landing a fish. Try doing that with a modern brittle graphite rod and you'll be needing a warranty replacement. That's a good demonstration of how durable fiberglass rods are. It looked like Wulff was using one of his Orvis bamboo rods of about 7'.


    Those "old" fly reels didn't have drags. They are basic spring and pawl reels. Gowdy was using a Hardy Princess. I have one that I got in 1972 that is as good as new, functionally, altho not in appearance. Wulff was using an Orvis that also was probably made by Hardy. Same construction and internal mechanicals as the Princess. Very simple and last forever. They do operate smoothly. It was the way Gowdy applied additional drag with his fingers that wasn't always smooth.


  7. Ah. Ok. That makes more sense. I just saw the rod going from full bend to slack twice per second when those fish were making runs. LOL.
  8. Thanks for posting. I love the old Gowdy shows. Much better than his sons "Quest for the one" show that was on a while back
  9. Thank you...good stuff!
  10. Lee was my flyfishing role model. His impact on the sport is beyond compare. My good friend, the late Dave Engerbretson -- Western Editor for FFM, was close to Lee. Lee would send experimental patterns to Dave in Moscow, Idaho. Lee wanted to know if they'd work in Idaho and the fisheries where Dave frequented.

    Lee made Dave promise that he'd actually try the flies and not just squirrel them away. At this point in his life, a fly created by Lee Wulff was a collectors item. Of course Dave never used the patterns but did indeed squirrel them away.

    Dave talked with Lee on the phone a few days before Lee Wulff crashed his plane and died.
  11. Wow, what a great clip. So many memories of iconic sporting personalities and gear that we were all using in those days. I still use click and pawl reels; why not? I remember those days when landing pike by hand meant putting your fingers in their eye sockets. Never bothered to consider that you were releasing a blind fish. Thanks for the memories.
  12. Very cool. Those brookies were awesome. I really liked seeing the use of a big skater in the end.

    Clicker reels are cool, not much a palm can't do until the fish are really big.

    This weekend a brand new Hardy Perfect will grace my 8 1/2' bamboo rod. I'm looking forward to it - A LOT.

    Thanks for posting great footage.
  13. Great vid! The site says it's from 1986 but I'm pretty sure that's just the copyright date on that clip. Lee Wulff would have been 81 in 1986. In the video his hair isn't even completely gray yet. From the looks of it, I'd say it's probably 10 years earlier than that.
  14. Jaydub, I'd say you are correct. It is "vintage"... which to me is before 1986.
  15. There is a collection of Lee Wulff films available today. I have seen all of them over and over. Some cool stuff in these films. One immediately notes that Lee was a striking visage on the water. He was a giant to me in many ways. He pioneered fly fishing adventure.

    GAT likes this.
  16. When that clip was loading, I was hoping to see some footage of Lee flying his plane. That was great! Brought back memories. Thanks for posting.
  17. I would have squirrled them away also.

    Two greats of the fly fishing fraternity. I always enjoyed watching Kurt's show and he had some top names fishing with him.

    That lake and those fish are of a long gone era. Wow, how I would have liked to sit around the camp fire with those two guys.
  18. Thanks GAT! Those brookies were amazing! I've seen a couple of his other old movies and they do bring back memories of a time gone by. The Royal Wulff is my favorite fly so I always enjoy things about Lee and Joan is such an inspiration and role model for female anglers.
  19. Sort of embarrassed to mention this, because I am not an autograph hound, but when I was young I wrote the Wulfs' and asked for their autographs as he was my fishing hero.
    They obliged and I have the "best of luck" signed index card as a prized possession.

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