From the mid 1960’s until 1989 Henry Hoffman of Warrenton, Oregon devoted his life to producing the best dry fly hackle in the world. His primary motivation was an all-consuming, life-long love of fishing. As an offshoot to this intense interest in fishing Henry also learned to tie flies, often by taking apart lost flies he found on the stream bank while out fishing.
Fortunately (for himself and the world) Henry was born into the right situation. His parents had a small meat chicken breeding operation in California, so Henry grew up learning the basics of breeder selection and poultry husbandry. After a stint in the military, Henry settled in Oregon and made his living tying fishing flies commercially, predominantly dry flies.
In the 1960’s good quality feathers for tying dry flies were nearly impossible to obtain and tiers had to rely on very poor quality capes imported from India or China - basically pelted village chickens. In addition, the black and white barred pattern feathers, called grizzly, did not exist in the village chickens, thus major fly patterns which required grizzly hackle garnered a premium price. Therefore, Henry set out in the mid 1960’s to find grizzly chickens to raise for his own tying needs and potentially to develop into a marketable genetic hackle line. He searched amongst the county fairs and poultry fanciers in the Pacific Northwest and finally found an exceptional trio of Barred Plymouth Rock bantams. Incredibly, they exhibited excellent (for that time) dry fly capes and also a respectable dry fly saddle. By Henry’s own estimation these initial birds saved him 10 years of development; and he was off and running.
Pg 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6