fly that had no name

Guest ‘POET’: Michael Vorhis, author of ARCHANGEL suspense thriller, OPEN DISTANCE adventure thriller & more to come

The stream yielded nothing, four hours and half.
The sun and the wind now relentlessly high…
The classics, the Hare’s Ear, the Pheasant, the Wulff
Had all served up naught but a snag and a sigh.
Still I added more tippet, and opened to scrounge
In my fly box, some hero this river to tame…
And deep ‘tween a bugger and gnat, there I found
The old one–the fly that had never a name.

fly that had no name

It was not quite a nymph or emerger or wet;
It hailed not from the Catskills nor Chalks of the Isle.
Neither mayfly nor caddis had ever posed yet
Like this thing that could never a purist beguile.
Only one did I ever have, ever did make,
And the once I had used it, it did not me fail.
It was born of a loon that had cried ‘cross a lake
And a snip from a favorite hound doggie’s tail.

It flew like a heron, it swept ‘neath a log
That my other flies had not been able to, prior.
And I didn’t know whether the fly or a hog
made that tug…till the surface erupted like fire.
Vesuvius never had thrown so much spray
And no dancer had danced ‘cross a ballroom so wild!
Time and the river stood still on that day
but the line cut through all…and then parted, and piled….

And gone was the thing still so vacant of fame,
The fly never copied, the fly with no name.

As the quiet returned I glimpsed one final breach,
And a shake of a kype, and a strange fly was thrown….
But it entered the current too far from my reach
and was gone in the fluid world that was its own.
All was well, I decided, and all as it should be;
No fly box was meant for a hero unbroken;
‘Twas always a stream creature, and always would be.
And I would remember. Ordained fate had spoken.

In years ever after I’ve tied many patterns,
I’ve done well enough with the usual bit.
But through all of the noble ties, all of the slatterns,
I’ve never once tried for a copy of It.
‘Twould seem sacrilegious, taboo, profane, banned,
To attempt manufacture of things that elude.
I swear it had once even moved in my hand;
The thing had been something that magic had brewed.

And life became normal, and I along with,
And angling provable, barren of myth.
And gone was the feral one, never to tame,
Forever the fly that had never a name.


  1. This is so well written – the fly fishing equivalent of the timeless “Casey at the Bat.” Kudos, Mr. Vorhis!

    1. Shirley, you really made my day. As a child I became notorious throughout school as the fourth grade kid who, on poetry day, while the little girls came prepared to recite some tiny teddy bear or puppy verse and the boys tried to get by with an impromptu “Over the river & through the woods to grandmother’s house we go,” sauntered up to the head of the class one Wednesday and belted out the entire Casey At The Bat, using up the whole half hour, milking the suspense from the stretch, and crushing the air with an invisible Louisville Slugger. The loud thud of my teacher’s chin bouncing off the floor is a sound I’ll never forget. And that tremendous work became, in my mind, a shrine to the written word.

      And now half a century later you can see those distant roots in a couple of lines that trickled unplanned out of a pen from my kitchen table! Wow. I don’t remember a Shirley in my class, back in Ohio long ago, so you must really have a time-machine sense of perception.

      Thank you Shirley! I’m glad it gave you a smile; you’ve certainly given one to me. : )

      – Mike

  2. A unique and welcome approach to the art of fly tying. A collection of which would make a fine addition to the fly tier’s world.

  3. Glad you got a chuckle from it guys. This little idea hatched itself awhile back and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Thought it might bring back a memory or two, here and there…for who among us hasn’t once cobbled together some odd concoction or other, half loony-bird feather and half family pet–that is, equal parts wild and love–then to experience some magical, memorable moment because of it? I’m sure we all have. This little verse simply pays tribute to those tiny creations, often lost, never duplicated, never anything but unfathomable and heroic. They’re the birthplace of tall tales, and let’s face it, fishing wouldn’t be fishing without tall tales.

    – Mike

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