The General Practitioner is a unique salmon fly pattern. It was given its name because it is dressed largely with Golden Pheasant feathers (GP = Golden Pheasant).
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Lt Colonel Esmond Drury, who designed the fly to tempt fish in a particularly challenging lie on the river test after the use of fishing with live shrimps on a hook was banned. He displayed considerable ingenuity and skill in choosing exactly the right materials needed to create a feather and fur impression of a natural shrimp. How successful he was is shown by the fact that the General practitioner fly caught fish for him and has since done so for countless salmon fly fishermen in many different countries. The black tip of the golden pheasant tippet of the wing is used to represent the natural shrimp’s eye.
Fly Fisherman Lt Colonel Esmond Drury designer of the General Practitioner Salmon Fly pattern with a brace of salmon caught on the River Wye
The fly was initially called the GP fly but the abbreviation GP in Britain is more commonly used in connection with the medical profession. Local family doctors are called General Practitioners. The fly soon became known as the General Practitioner although there was no connection with any fly fishing doctor.
I was fishing Scrogbank Burn Pool on the river Tweed in late November. I had tied on a General Practitioner. I waded in carefully and put a shortish line over a good lie just off the burn mouth. After a couple of casts, line shot off the reel and the reel screamed for what seemed like minutes as I let the fish run. Then I lifted the rod and set the hook. I knew straight away that it was not a salmon and sure enough after several minutes, I had a well-mended hen sea-trout. It is surprising how many sea-trout kelts are caught in October and November are mistaken for clean fish.