Jim McCoul lives in Brookfield,
Nova Scotia. He is an Optician by profession. In addition to a demanding work schedule, Jim and his wife, Vicky, carefully
tend the beautiful grounds around their home. Otherwise, Jim is an avid sportsman. Aside from hunting, this passion involves
fish – anything that swims in fresh or saltwater.
Jim’s passion for fishing started at age 8 in his native Colchester County, he explored every brook and
river to learn the ways of fish and how to catch them. His interest later led to the art of fly tying.
He is a self-taught fly tyer of over thirty years
and he began without instruction. With Poul Jorgensen’s book Fly Tying Guide and his natural ability to use
his hands for precision work, he was on his way. Atlantic salmon flies soon became his specialty. He bought more books and
taught himself the many intricacies of classic salmon fly tying. It was another Poul Jorgensen book, Salmon Flies –
their character, style & dressing, published in 1978, that rekindled the hobby of tying traditional
Atlantic salmon flies, and Jim became firmly hooked by it.
Jim is a modest person, and only through encouragement from his wife and friends did he enter his first fly
tying contest. In 1991, Jim entered the annual FQSA sponsored World Fly Tying Championship in Quebec as an amateur. He won
1st place against some of the world’s finest tyers. In 1992, he entered again, but this time as a professional,
and he won again. This feat he repeated in 1993 and 1994. There had only been two others who had won the championship twice
in a row. Jim was the third and with his win in 1994, he became the first professional fly tyer to win the World Championship
three times, let alone three times in a row. In 1996 he captured a gold and a silver medal.
Jim’s a perfectionist. He ties the same fly over and
over until it is perfect in every detail. He researches the history of every classic he ties, tying it with the same exactness
and materials used by the creator of the fly. Each fly is a labour of love and it is a real treat to watch him tie a classic.
Jim is unselfish in sharing his craft
with others. To sit in on one of his two-day courses and learn the various techniques is like taking thirty years and condensing
them into two days. Some may wonder why Jim didn’t win the Professional Category in the 1995 World Championship. The
reason is simple. He wanted others to experience the same satisfaction. He did, however, participate by tutoring another Colchester
County boy, who placed second.
Jim was eventually awarded the title Master Fly Tyer by the FQSA. His medals are as follows:
St. Rene de Matane
The Etchemin Fantasy
Also, in 1994, Jim won gold in the Mustad Scandinavian
Open competition for his compulsory hairwing fly, the Yellow Torrish.
He doesn’t tie many featherwing flies these days; he’s tied most of the patterns he wanted to try,
and the cost of materials is becoming prohibitive. Although he enjoys tying, he has never sold flies commercially. In 2008
Jim led a Green Highlander workshop at our River Magic fly shop. Early in 2009 Jim showed me how topping winged classics are
dressed by creating and tying the Stillwater Demon. A photo of this handsome fly is shown in this website.
Jim enjoys fishing for a variety of species. He and
wife Vicky fish the Stewiacke River for stripers in the spring, and the Northumberland Strait rivers for brown trout. He has
also fished in British Columbia, Labrador and the Great Lakes, and, judging by some of the impressive mounts in his home,
he also excels as an angler. One of Jim’s designs, the McCoul Special, was featured in Paul Marriner’s book, Modern
Atlantic Salmon Flies. “I developed that fly as a modification of a West Coast steelhead pattern, the Comet, by
adding some Krystal Flash,” he says, adding that he uses head cement to coat the body of the fly to protect it from
the fish’s teeth. “I thought it would be a good fly for fall salmon, and it is. I caught nine salmon on one before
I lost the fly.”
Jim often says that his biggest fan
is his wife, Vicky. She is a most understanding fisherman’s wife, always supporting his art. She also fishes and occasionally
has been known to land a bigger fish than Jim.
MacLean, Don. A Little Thing I Tied Myself. Halifax, Nimbus Publishing, 2006.
Marriner, Paul. Modern Atlantic
Salmon Flies. Portland, Frank Amato Publications Ltd., 1998.