Spruce Fly history

zen leecher aka bill w

born to work, forced to fish
One last one and I think this is about as far as I can dig. This is a link to info on Phil Foster, also from Oregon and probably knew both Abrahams and Godfrey


Speyrod GB

Active Member
This just keeps getting better and better.

From the rogueflyfishers.org.

The Spruce fly was designed around 1918 by brothers Bert and Milo Godfrey who owned a hardware store in Seaside, Oregon. The first Spruce fly was reportedly tied by Bert on a #8 sproat fly hook. The pattern evolved into a streamer when anglers began extending its use to resident trout and steelhead. Quickly gaining a reputation as a deadly pattern along the Pacific Coast, the Spruce soon became a favorite throughout the west. Over the years the Spruce has been tied on standard wet fly hooks, streamer hooks of all lengths, steelhead irons, and even double hooks used for half-pounders on the Rogue. The secret to its success seems to be a combination of classic Royal Coachman colors and the enticing scissor-like action of the splayed badger hackle wings.
Through the years, tiers have dressed the Spruce to reflect their individual tying styles without substituting any of the original materials. You will see different Spruce patterns with different herl-to-floss ratios, wing tied body length and others tied with hackle tips extending beyond the tail. Badger necks vary in overall color and center stripe width, making for a great many alternative looks for the pattern. Through it all, however, the Spruce remains effective and aesthetically pleasing. So tie some up, give them a test flight and let me know how you do.

It also appears the Bert Godfrey and his brother, Clarence Milo Godfrey were members of the Seaside Angler's Club.

I agree with Zen, Mr. Shewey has some serious research ahead of him. I will be curious to be see what the results are.


I sent the posts to John. Thanks for the help! I'm sure he'll root out what he can. He's like me. The research for articles can be a lot of fun. You sometimes discover some fascinating facts.

That's a problem with some well known fly patterns... it is not overly easy to determine who originated the patterns and for what species of fish.

Driftless Dan

Driftless Dan
WFF Supporter
My favorite fly, bar none. I caught literally hundreds of cutties, sea-run and residents, on both forks of the Nehalem River with it when I lived in the state.

I'd always heard it was first tied as a low-water steelhead pattern for use on the Necanicum, by Dr. Godfrey (at least, as I remember it, he was a doctor).

Fun thread, by the way! I'd love to see more like this - histories of famed PNW trout and steelhead patterns.


Active Member
When I first saw this thread my mind quickly went towards the great Spruce Moth. One of my favorite "hatch" to fish on the West Fork of the Bitterroot. I guess I better get there for this summers event :)

zen leecher aka bill w

born to work, forced to fish
One thing I hope Shewey's article clears up is how west coast tyers and fly shop owners Foster and Patrick could name Abrams as the originator and Bates, from Massachusetts, name Godfrey.

Maybe they are talking about different flies as 3 variations of the Spruce fly were detailed in Patrick's manual.


As I understand it, as told by my fly tying mentor, the Purple Joe was a variation of The Spruce Fly and created by someone in Washington State for steelhead.

When I first saw the pattern I thought it was the ugliest pattern I'd ever seen... but I tied some up and tried them anyway. Turns out, the Purple Joe works great for hooking SCR and migrating kokanee in the Metolius. It became one of my favorite SRC flies and I use it today.

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