By Mike Willis
If you are an angler from the Pacific Northwest, you have most likely heard of “Frisky Jenny Trolling Flies.” These flies have gotten lots of attention in the past for their proven success in producing quality fish.
While Frisky Jenny flies have been used throughout the nation, they are typically used while trolling for salmon, rainbow trout, and lake trout.
There are numerous derby winners who all have one person to thank. That person is Virginia Sturgis.
In 1984 Virginia decided to take part in the 1st annual “Big One Derby” on Lake Coeur d’Alene in Idaho. As many purists of the sport did back then, she tied up a trolling fly using what she had at her disposal.
Much to Virginia’s surprise, the fly landed her a second-place fish and began a movement that she could never have imagined.
Family and friends who knew what she had done began asking her to tie some flies for them. There was no keeping secret what these flies were doing.
Within no time, Virginia was approached by the local sporting goods store. It was apparent that Virginia’s flies were a very big hit! What started as an angler doing what she loved, resulted in the birth of a brand and the beginning of a family legacy.
When the new “Frisky Jenny Flies” hit the shelves, Virginia realized that she was not going to be able to keep up with the overwhelming demand. Not wanting to disappoint her new eager customers, she began enlisting the help of family.
Susan Houk, Virginia’s daughter-in-law, was one of those loyal family members who stepped up to help get the emerging business off the ground. For this reason, it was a bittersweet day in 1997 when Virginia passed the torch to Susan so that she could continue what they had started.
Since Frisky Jenny’s humble beginnings, they have grown their brand into multiple areas of the fishing industry. Some other products that the family has developed are Knotty Scotty lures, Frisky Jenny fly enhancer, and Frisky Jenny trolling boards.
Great American Wildlife tracked down Susan and asked which flies were the most popular for anglers. (More importantly, derby winners!) Here’s what she said:
“Popular patterns vary throughout the country. Here in the northwest, the Pend Oreille style flies are commonly pulled off of trolling boards for targeting larger trout species. The Roosevelt flies are favorites for smaller rainbow trout and kokanee salmon. The Tube flies are generally trolled behind a flasher or dodger and target salmon species or lake trout using downriggers.”
While Susan respectfully guards the exact identity of various derby winners’ flies, she joyfully tells of her excitement in hearing from over a dozen anglers who credited her flies for their derby winnings.
To check out Susan’s products, go to https://www.friskyjennyflies.com.
If you have questions about which flies will work in your region, reach out to Susan, and she will be happy to point you in the right direction. Just make sure that you send her a picture of that big fish!