Bunyan Bugs hand tied by "Paul Bunyan" - Missoula, Montana 1950's

The Bunyan Bug (1923 - to date) certainly occupies a unique position in the past

and present heritage of fly fishing. It's a fly that has truly survived the test of time.


It was 1923 in Missoula, Norman Edward Means developed a new “bug” series (dry fly) for trout fishing. Means, known throughout the state by his nickname Paul Bunyan, marketed his “Bunyan Bugs” widely, providing Montana fisherman with a great imitation of the large western stoneflies.There are only a few who are aware that the series consists of a wide variety of insects. At one time there were about thirty-five distinct artificial flies. Some say it was one of the first dry flies made.......

The construction of the BB is unique and has no parallel among other Montana or western trout flies. It is a reflection of the ingenuity of it's originator. There were once 32 varieties of Bunyan Bugs. Paul Bunyan is certainly a true pioneer in the art of fly-tying and also a skilled maker of split bamboo fly rods, and must be recognized and honored as a individual who contributed substantially to the sport of fly-fishing in the West.

This fly certainly occupies a unique position in the past and present heritage of fly fishing. It's a fly that has truly survived the test of time. Bunyan Bugs have caught mammoth trout and bass on the western rivers of the Rocky Mountains. Paul Bunyan's grandson Richard Rose has a tied a variety of Bunyan Bugs for many years.They are modeled on originals by his grandfather. They are being made today and available to the public by request, or at this site.

It is unclear who was the first white man to catch a trout in Montana, but we can be sure he did it more than 150 years ago, maybe even more. By the late 1800’s the sporting periodicals contained occasional references to the great fishing of the state, and a few eastern sportsman found their way to such rivers as the Gallatin, Yellowstone to try this new angling frontier. For all this early publicity and fun, Montana trout streams didn’t really come into their own and develop their own angling lore until after WW1. Then, in the 1920’s and 1930’s things started to happen.

It has been called the Golden Age of Trout Fishing in Montana. Even during the depression, which hit Montana harder than it hit many states, some great things were happening along the rivers. There were lots of fish, as browns and rainbows established themselves and grew fat and strong around the state. There were few people, as the state had not yet been discovered by hordes of tourists and anglers. And perhaps best of all, there were some very inventive fisherman. It was an exciting time to be fly fishing in Montana. New flies and new ideas were everywhere as western anglers came into their own with patterns and techniques suited to the waters. No longer did they simply order flies from back east.  The lesson Montana’s fly weavers have to offer us may not have anything to do with the flies they tied or the techniques they developed, as intriguing as those things are. Perhaps the real lesson is that more than we might like to admit we fly fishers are slaves to fashion; that there are lots of ways to catch a trout; and that there’s always room for fresh thinking.

Certain Content: “From Boehme to Bailey” Historically Important Montana Fly Tiers, by  George Grant


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Early Bunyan Bugs

Variety of Bunyan Bugs by Norman Means grandson, "Richard Rose "