Posts Tagged ‘fuzzy nymphs’

Ernest  Herbert “Polly” Rosborough, the skillful nymph innovator, was born in Arkansas in 1902 and eventually moved to Oregon in 1958.  When I met him in 1963, Polly lived alone in a rental house near Chiloquin, Oregon.  The farm-style wooden structure, probably dating back to the early 1900’s, was located on Highway 62, hard on Upper Klamath Lake.

He called me out of the blue and invited me to his home following a fly tying demonstration I had done at a Rotary Club luncheon where I lived in Klamath Falls, Oregon.  Polly had not been at the demonstration, but someone had given him my telephone number.  I agreed to a meeting at his home at 10am the following morning, a Saturday.

The meeting was strange.  My wife, Mary Lou, and I showed up at Polly’s place at the appointed time.   After visiting with Mary Lou like she was a long-lost friend for about 30 minutes, he took off his shirt, sat down at his tying table and asked me to rub some liquid DMSO* into his left shoulder and upper arm.  Polly suffered from bursitis, a painful trouble for someone hunched over a fly tying vice for hours on end.  He had me “doctor” him with this unusual treatment often during our association.

The DMSO gave him some instant relief.  Because of its penetrating powers and chemical makeup, it left me with the strong aftertaste of garlic or spoiled oysters in my mouth!

Polly donned his shirt and gave us an hour-long demonstration of his tying skills.  He was a slight, balding man in his early-60s, who wore strong reading glasses when he tied.  His hands were his exceptional feature.  His fingers were quite long and slender.  The nimble fingers literally danced along the hook shank as the fly took shape.  Mary Lou and I were in awe.

Following the exhibition, Polly turned to me and said, “I have some large orders from Orvis.  Do you think you could tie the patterns you just watched me tie?”

I said something stupid like, “Maybe….with your help.”   He invited me to sit at his tying table, and carefully helped me tie the Muskrat, one of his famous fuzzy nymphs.  When he was satisfied with my work, he scurried about his house gathering up a large supply of hooks and materials for the pattern.  Placing them in a plastic bag, he handed the hooks and materials to me and said, “Here’s what you’ll need for the Muskrat Nymph.  Tie me up 36 dozen, size 10, and include one extra.  I’ll pick one randomly and dismantle it with a pen knife to make sure you’ve tied them well.”

“Crap”, I thought to myself, “433 flies.  That’ll take me forever!”   My association with “Polly” Rosborough, my new mentor, had begun.


*DMSO is Dimethyl sulfoxide, a chemical resulting from the wood pulping process.  With a low toxicity, DMSO has the property of penetrating the skin instantly, acting as a topical analgesic.  The compound is used today in many areas, including the freezing and preservation of embryonic and hematopoietic stem cells.


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