The Atlantic Salmon Flies of Dave Goulet – Ben Bilello

Goulet Salmon Flies (Group Shot)

If we were to play a word association game with Southern New England fly fishers, what words would the name Dave Goulet conjure up? Most would probably say, “Classic & Custom,” the name of Dave’s fly shop. Others would mention the Farmington River. After moving Classic & Custom from Holyoke, Massachusetts to New Hartford, Connecticut, the shop sat near the banks of the Farmington until Dave’s retirement in 2009. Some might mention the wary Farmington brown trout, on which Dave was an expert. And you might hear mention of some of Dave’s most well known trout flies, such as Moby Dick, Unicorn, Dirt Diver, or a host of others. Regardless of the words associated with Dave’s name, most would agree that Dave left an inedible mark on the local trout fishing community.

A much smaller percentage of us tapped into Dave’s other area of expertise. Dave is a hardcore atlantic salmon fisherman. Though he has fished all over maritime Canada, Dave knows the Miramichi River inside and out. In terms of atlantic salmon fishermen, Dave Goulet is my favorite kind. He has never been afraid of public water. In a world seemingly full of pricey lodges, pristine Bogdan reels and an overt sense of exclusivity, Dave is the real deal…a salmon fisherman’s fisherman.

Though Dave is mostly known as an innovative trout fly tyer, he has created some fine atlantic salmon flies. I am aware of six original patterns. Four of which can be found in Flies for Atlantic Salmon (Stewart & Allen; 2001) and The Complete Directory of Salmon & Steelhead Flies (Mann; 2008), among other publications. As far as I know, the two remaining flies have never been published.

Below are the dressings for all six of Dave’s original patterns. I didn’t try to copy Dave’s tying style, but I did try to respect his choice of materials whenever possible. There are a few unavoidable material substitutions, however. For a more personal account of my experiences with Dave, please see my piece in the Spring 2014 issue of the Atlantic Salmon Journal (Fit To Be Tied, p. 62).

The Atlantic Salmon Flies of Dave Goulet
(tied and photographed by Ben Bilello)

Bette Jane 4

Bette Jane

Tag: Oval gold tinsel
Butt: Fluorescent green wool
Tail: Red hackle barbs
Rib: Oval gold tinsel
Body: Rear half: medium green floss; Front half: peacock herl
Throat: Yellow hackle over light green hackle
Wing: Badger hair
Head: Black

Catch-A-Me Lodge 5

Catch-A-Me Lodge

Tag: Oval silver tinsel
Butt: Fluorescent green wool
Rib: Oval silver tinsel
Body: Black seal fur (or substitute)
Hackle: Golden pheasant breast feather dyed black (or other spey-type hackle)
Throat: Speckled guinea fowl
Wing: Two strips of white goose shoulder, tied short and splayed (Dee style)
Cheeks: Jungle cock (optional)
Head: Black

*The original was tied with a black silver pheasant body hackle.

Chipper Lodge 6

Chipper Lodge

Tag: Flat gold tinsel
Butt: Fluorescent orange floss
Tail: Golden Pheasant tippets, tied in at the second black bar
Rib: Oval gold tinsel
Body: Black wool
Throat: Purple hackle
Wing: Woodchuck guard hairs, topped with soft orange hackle fibers 1/3 of wing length
Cheeks: Jungle cock (optional)
Head: Black

Cockburn 4

Cockburn (unpublished)

Tag: Flat silver tinsel
Tail: Chartreuse bucktail with a few strands of peacock green Krystal Flash
Body: Fluorescent green floss
Underwing: Chartreuse arctic fox or bucktail with black tips
Wing: Chartreuse arctic fox or bucktail with black tips
Hackle: Black-Laced-White hen saddle dyed fluorescent yellow; tied collar style
Head: Black

*The underwing and wing were originally tied with dyed mongoose fur.

Golden Girl 4 (LW)

Golden Girl

Tag: Flat gold tinsel
Butt: Fluorescent green floss
Tail: Golden pheasant tippet strands
Rib: Oval gold tinsel
Body: Black floss
Throat: Black hackle
Wing: Black squirrel tail
Head: Black

Mezmerizer 10 (1-top view)

Mezmerizer 10 (2-side view)

Mezmerizer (unpublished)

Tail: Pearl Krystal Flash (or substitute flash material)
Shellback: Pearl Krystal Flash (or substitute flash material)
Hackle: Black, palmered up length of body
Body: Fluorescent green floss
Wing: Pearl Krystal Flash (or substitute flash material), doubled back and evenly distributed on both sides of the hook shank (same flash as used to make the shellback)
Head: Butt ends of the Krystal Flash wing and black thread

*The original was tied with a generic Krystal Flash substitute with which I am unfamiliar. It is less kinky than the original Krystal Flash. I substituted Crystal Mirror Flash in the fly pictured.


Filed under Salmon

5 Responses to The Atlantic Salmon Flies of Dave Goulet – Ben Bilello

  1. A.D. Colburn

    The only salmon (grilse) I ever caught was with Dave standing on the bank behind me at the Govmn’t pool.
    He had a few choice comments and a smile when I got back ashore.
    He was happy I let that one swim another day. I was proud to have Dave over my shoulder.


  2. T.D. McDowell

    I knew Dave way back before the rest of New England discovered he knew how to fish. The days of the Vista Crusier and more coffee than any two men should drink are too long gone. Some of the things we did streamside to humor ourselves and each other are truly bright spots in my memories; intent on a drift to have his hooked fish splash you “hey can you take that one off? I don’t want to get my hands wet in this cold”. Of course anything to help a friend. Did I mention while I was at the task I also removed the lower half of the his hook? Life surely would suck without guys like Goulet in it. Now if he would only learn how to dress a hook…

  3. John Byrne

    Dave (aka. Stork) is the best Atlantic Salmon fisherman I know and it is a pleasure to fish with him every year on the Mirimichi. I always look forward to his next new fly creation. I caught my very first salmon on the Mirimichi on one of Dave’s Mezmerizer patterns. I am a proud member of ROM (Royal Order of Mezmerizers).

  4. Stephen Messier

    First fished for salmon with Dave at Catch-A-Me Lodge in the late 1970’s and also later at Chipper Lodge. One of the best friends and best salmon fishermen I have ever known. Taught me most of what I know about salmon fishing and salmon flies. Also one of the leading cold-water fisheries conservationists and trout and salmon advocates in New England for many, many years. All trout fishermen in Western Mass. & Connecticut 0we him a tremendous debt of gratitude.