On my desk there is a box of gorgeous steelhead flies tied by master fly tier and innovator Bob Quigley. There are some marabou Speys with electric blue Krystal flash under the epoxy finish, there are Intruder-style flies with long, barred feathers I don’t recognize (Bob was known for his use of emu and ostrich plumes in his flies), and there are some black rabbit-strip flies tied on 90-degree jig hooks with (again) the long barred feathers and dumbbell eyes nestled in the crook of the jig hook.
For anyone interested in fly tying they are a wonder and a curiosity. Quigley intended to write a story for Fly Fisherman on these steelhead flies and how to tie them, but instead he was drawn into a lengthy battle with prostrate cancer and passed away June 12. He was 62 years old. (Read the complete obituary at legacy.com.)
Bob Quigley was one of the greatest tiers of his generation. He refined and shared the techniques (and the flies) that are now standard on difficult waters such as Hat Creek, Hot Creek, and the Fall River.
His patterns—or more accurately his style of patterns—are in widespread use across the world. The Quigley Cripple, Film Critic, and Hackle Stacker are just a few of the patterns that didn’t just find their way into thousands of fly boxes—they inspired thousands of fly tiers who used the techniques and materials to build their own creations.
“Bob Quigly was a friend,” said longtime Fly Fisherman publisher John Randolph, who published Quigley’s ideas on everything from Hackle Stacker techniques to emu feathers. “Early on he heard the sound of a different drummer—fly fishing. He pursued it exclusively and lovingly all his life. His favorite haunt was Fall River. I spent two days there fishing with him. Learning from him. I have never spent two better days. He shared his love, his flies, and his knowledge. He was one of a special brotherhood. Us.”
Quigley’s last story for Fly Fisherman was “California Super Hatches” —a showcase of not just his fly-tying talent but his encyclopedic knowledge of California rivers and his love of life and fly fishing. Read it and enjoy a small piece of his legacy.