History of the deer hair diving frog (Dahlberg vs Whitlock)

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History of the deer hair diving frog (Dahlberg vs Whitlock)

Postby ibookje » Sat Dec 12, 2015 5:26 pm

Dear Larry,

I'd like to ask you about the history of the MegaDiver.

It must have been sometime in the early 90's. I saw this video (VHS!) with Larry Dahlberg about fly fishing for pike using floating bugs. Although the image quality was awful (must have been a copy of a copy of a ...) what I saw really caught my attention. This fly nowadays known as the Dahlberg diver (the original pattern and name you used for his diving bug is MegaDiver and was tied with a long haribou and flashabou tail rather than hackles used these days which mimics frogs) was making those pikes go nuts.
Sometime ago I bought the video now available on DVD.

In the May 1990 issue of in Field & Stream magazine Nick Lyons with illustrations by Dave Whitlock wrote an article about the 'The Bass fly revolution' which shows that Dave Whitlock came up a radical new deer hair pattern called the Dave's Frog Bug (nowadays known as the Dave's or Whitlock Swimming Frog) which mimics a diving frog somewhere around the same period.

It is quite possible that both (Larry Dahlberg and Dave Whitlock) came up with a similar idea to shape the deer hair bug with a collar and a flat-ish and/or torpedo like head. What I'm very interested is, is if there have been contact between both men during the early 1990's (probably earlier in the late 1980's) about tying a deer hair bug which eventually became the MegaDiver and de Whitlock Swimming Frog? Both in the video nor the article doesn't mentions the other tier.

Could you help me (and many others who might be interested!) out on this?

Thank you for developing such an amazing concept (it's more than a pattern)!
I really enjoy tying many different types of the diver.

Best,
Jay


Ps.
I wrote on my blog about this very same question:
http://bassbug.blogspot.nl/2015/08/hot- ... -frog.html
At the end the Fly & Stream article can be read thanks to Google.
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Re: History of the deer hair diving frog (Dahlberg vs Whitlo

Postby dahlberg » Mon Dec 14, 2015 12:36 pm

Hi Jay,
It's a rather long and complicated story. I will try to give it to you in a nutshell.
Many years ago, like while a smallmouth bass fly fishing guide in my mid to late teens, I was experimenting with flies from flashy synthetics in an effort to imitate a spinner. Not the insect stage, like in Mepps spinner.
It was for a lady client who seems incapable of catching a bass on a fly and who would bet $3 each day with her husband for first, most and biggest. She always insisted on fishing with me and I hated seeing her loose all the time.
I made her a neutral buoyant fly with a mylar wing. The first day she caught the first, most and biggest. After that we never lost the whole bet again, always catching first and most, but not always the biggest.
Soon after I began experimenting with both surface and diving shapes to put in front of my flashy material.
I arrived at the diver.
many years later I was guiding dave whitlock and after not getting a bite in the first 3 places, dropped anchor, I picked up my rod, winged out a diver and caught a bass. And another.
He asked,"are you using a "trick" line to make that fly sink?
I showed him how it worked, and also the flashy stuff.
He figured I needed or actually owed it to the world to share it and that i should figure out a way to package the flashy stuff and he'd help me promote it if I would give him the rights to my fly design for two years.
I said ok. Flashabou was born, and that's another story...
a couple years went by and when it came time to revert rights etc to me, he determined it had become such an integral part of his fishing arsenal he could not honor our agreement.
Later in years we negotiated a royalty split with Umpqua on the swimming minnows and what ever and amounts to a very insignificant amount of money for yours truly! But, at least in most folks minds I do get credit for the design!
The mega diver is a variation of my original diver that I developed for big pike and muskies. I also developed big fly fiber as a compliment to flashabou for the fly in specific.
Hope that answers your questions!
best
L
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Re: History of the deer hair diving frog (Dahlberg vs Whitlo

Postby ibookje » Mon Dec 14, 2015 5:10 pm

Hi Larry,

Thank you so much for your reply.

I'm especially intrigued about the deer hair diver shape which evolved in so many patterns (flashabou tail, rabbit strip tail, hackle tail, etc.).

You said you guided Dave Whitlock one day and "… winged out a diver …". Do you mean that you fished a deer hair diver (with the flashabou tail) and Dave probably picked up the idea of the diver head to later incorporate it in his Diving / Swimming Frog pattern?

If so, it's weird (can't come up with the appropriate word for it) that Dave Whitlock never gave you credit for the deer hair diver head shape?

Best,
Jay
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Re: History of the deer hair diving frog (Dahlberg vs Whitlo

Postby dahlberg » Tue Dec 15, 2015 3:56 am

I will make it a bit more clear if I can. I developed the diver head long before I'd ever heard of Dave Whitlock.
I showed it to him and he was amazed.
We made a deal that he could copy it and accept the royalties for it's sales for two years in exchange for him helping me promote flashabou. He re-nigged.

Back then he had lots of leverage with Umpqua, and others in the industry. Nobody had ever heard of me.

Mr Whitlock has a reputation of borrowing ideas from young fly tiers and making them his own.
Like many tragic figures, IMO he is more to be pitied than censored.

best,
L
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Re: History of the deer hair diving frog (Dahlberg vs Whitlo

Postby ibookje » Tue Dec 15, 2015 12:49 pm

Very clear Larry.
Thank you for your explanation.

Best,
Jay
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Re: History of the deer hair diving frog (Dahlberg vs Whitlo

Postby dahlberg » Tue Dec 15, 2015 4:50 pm

just looked at your blog.
Just so you know, and this is part of my nature, in terms of the head shape, I've tried literally every permutation of collar length, head taper, etc etc that you can possibly imagine. also foams, (which I made back in the early 80's) foam hair variations, sinking materials rather than hair, also lures in that shape made of wood, and on and on. Same goes with tail materials. depends if I want them to pop real loud, or dive extremely deep, etc. Also the nature of the hair somewhat dictate the shape, size and placement. also use it frequently with a sinking line and actually grinding bottom, or parallel to weed lines with leader 9-12'. let line sink to bottom. fly still floats cause leader is longer than weeds are deep. strip fly to bottom, stop, let fly rise several feet, or even to the surface. repeat.
I do not look at fly patterns like most normal people. I see a "fuselage", to me an adams and a blue dun are the same water buffalo. Humpy another, deer hair caddis another. As such the diver is more of a concept than a specific pattern.
The issue I was addressing personal was to create a diving control surface that would cast well and not do a kamakazee when you lift it from the water like traditional diving bills do. I also wanted it to rise head first.
At the time whitlock had a small handful of bass patterns, all of which were quite similar other than color.
All sported rubber bands as well, something I almost never put on my smallmouth poppers because I didn't like the way they affected casting, and there's a certain kind of pretty fast retrieve I like to do for bass that doesn't as well with binders dragging.
actually the only diver article ive ever written was for a tiny newspaper published by burger brothers sporting goods in Minneapolis. That would have been in the very early seventies. One of these days I will write another and show the first permutation or two as well.
best
L
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Re: History of the deer hair diving frog (Dahlberg vs Whitlo

Postby Badger1992 » Tue Dec 15, 2015 8:31 pm

Larry,

That would be a great article! I'd like to see pics of the early models and permutations.
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Re: History of the deer hair diving frog (Dahlberg vs Whitlo

Postby ibookje » Wed Dec 16, 2015 1:15 pm

dahlberg wrote:
> …
> As such the diver is more of a concept than a specific pattern.

Absolutely agree!


> actually the only diver article ive ever written was for a tiny newspaper
> published by burger brothers sporting goods in Minneapolis. That would have
> been in the very early seventies. One of these days I will write another
> and show the first permutation or two as well.

Marketing an idea the right way (or the bad way as it turned our later…) makes a high difference how well the idea will be received and the credits go. So many people in history missed this out and someone else went away with all the success.
Well, we now know that Whitlock isn't the originator (in any way) of the deer hair diving head.

Looking forward to your article. Maybe you should get it published in a magazine (and internet) with a large audience to make sure it will set some things straight.

Best,
Jay

Ps.
Thanks for looking at my blog! :)
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Re: History of the deer hair diving frog (Dahlberg vs Whitlo

Postby dahlberg » Wed Dec 16, 2015 3:05 pm

I appreciate your comments and interest. also your dedication to giving credit where credit is due. In truth my inspiration was a musky lure called a Suick. The diving collar idea from an early prototype that I had a heck of a time testing cause it kept getting eaten by pike while bass fishing with no leader.
I've emailed you an article my wife dug up that whitlock wrote right after fishing with me. feel free to do with it as you will.
best
L
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Re: History of the deer hair diving frog (Dahlberg vs Whitlo

Postby ibookje » Thu Feb 22, 2018 8:57 am

Larry,

By a miracle I ran into an article in the September 1983 issue of Fly Fisherman by Dave Whitlock called 'Super fly!'.
In this article Dave Whitlock gives you full credit on the Dahlberg Diver, the typical shape of the deer hair head and collar.
Unfortunately I'm missing the (possibly) last page (p 78) of this issue.

Well, I think this ends my search for the origins of the MegaDiver and all its offsprings! :)
Thanks again for your input.

The article can be read at my blog: http://bassbug.blogspot.nl/2015/08/hot- ... -frog.html
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