The Adventures of Fletcher Quill

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Dan Fallon Fly Fishing Article Column 2 2016

Feather Obsession

"The wing of friendship never molts a feather!"
Charles Dickens 1812-1870

In the early nineteen fifties in the Sunset District of old San Francisco my uncle Clyde raised parakeets and love birds in a wonderful handbuild Avery. Equipped with every imaginative nesting and feeding, raising area, niche and drawers filled with magic... My five year old eyes were wide with amazement.

Incredible noise and fluttering tiny wings and smells from hundreds of baby birds hypnotized. The best way to imprint the touch, feel, reasons why feathers exist. Feathers that allow birds of all weights and sizes to become lighter then air, keep them warm and allow floating in rough seas. The invention of the feather is as important as any invention ever.

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I recall looking at the tiny feathers in the light and seeing the lords intellect creating feathers to allow his birds with wings flight! Uncle Clyde was an accomplished fly fisher and took me on many trips to northern rivers including the American and Feather Rivers. He spoke easily and often on these long car rides about his fascination and great admiration of feathers.

My mind and soul were waiting eagerly to digest and ponder all things related to birds and feathers and fly fishing with patterns woven with feathers. In the next many decades I became addicted to searching for and collecting feathers from around the world including Asia, Europe, Africa, Ireland and many exotic feather strewn countries. Since early 20s have carried plastic zip bags and scissors at all times to take samples of any downed birds or road kills.

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Webster’s and Oxford Dictionaries describe obsession as behavior uncontrollable! When one of my best Pals got married near a little farm town in California named Tracey. I provided a long stretch Limo and acted as the driver for the groom and bride and family. Spirits were high and laughter filled the limo as we wound down tiny country roads toward the church where about 100 friends were waiting.

Suddenly I saw a freshly killed wild Turkey being devoured by a Vulture that got killed by the car in front of us. A bonanza of wild feathers awaited and I could not resist. Quickly parked the limo got out my ever present plastic bags and scissors and while the bride screamed swear words I never heard before took many samples from both birds.

The groom and our male buddies were hysterical and repeated this fly feather tale many times... On another more somber occasion my obsession reared its ugly head.

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One of my oldest uncles died and a big funeral was organized that included many very wealthy older woman who wore antique stole’s and feather strewn hats that caught my eye as soon as they walked into the funeral chapel. As my uncle’s life was being grossly over extolled by well meaning old friends and neighbors. He was as those who new him well kind of a prick curmudgeon at best, but very very funny!

While all the kind but untrue words were falling out of well dressed mouths. I was busy with my plastic bags and scissors taking wonderful samples from the coat room where the ladies coats, furs and hats were hung. Suddenly the loudest most high strung of the woman rushed in started screaming: " Help please someone help me this idiot is destroying my mink stole! " The laughter and outrage echoed for at least and hour as my male friends were bent over in uncontrollable laughter tears rolling down clean shaven faces...


I live close to the San Francisco Zoo an outdated sad assembly of caged creatures that never see freedom. As a child I spent many days wondering and wondering why humans thought Zoo’s were a good idea. Excuses like kids enjoy seeing once wild animals or maybe we can breed more of endangered species never sounded reasonable to me.

As time went by many sad incidents slowly changed the Zoo into a shadow of its old self. Elephants gone and as other animals died off none were replaced. The S. F. Zoo a sad reminder of what’s left of a bad idea gone wrong. A few years ago I arranged for a private lunch with several Zoo managers to propose my idea of taking as many feathers as possible from cage floors and tying colorful fly streamers to be sold profits going to the Zoo.

After devouring my rubber chicken repast I flew into my pitch and noticed about half way through their faces turning red as they stared into space.

It seemed I had hit all the politically incorrect keys on the Zoo piano and was so far off base the Howler Monkeys were laughing at me. Oh well, nothing lost nothing gained. I still dream of access to all those colorful feathers thrown in the trash every day...

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I once for a short period of time had a girlfriend who worked for the 14th Dali Lama as one of his California religious contacts. Her job was to keep the Tibet leader informed on all the many movements relating to Tibet and his Holiness. One summer he came to San Francisco to speak and dine with local museum leaders about a proposed exhibit of ancient Tibetan artifacts.

Including ceremonial vestments resplendent in feathers from long extinct birds. When I heard this aspect of the gathering I was all in with many grand suggestions and menu add ons like wild Boar and California Truffles found only in remote foothills known only to mushroom hunters!

My job before the dinner was to help display the many rare artifacts and feathered items. Sadly while caught snipping one or two splendid extinct feathers by a trusted guard of his most Holy.

The proceedings were tainted by ridiculous charges of grave robbing! I was most insulted yet did acquire a bag full of my most favorite rare feathers. Crown jewels of my demented feather collection.


Avid dead serious fly fishers looking for a trip of a life time consider lake Marie Alaska! This spring 2016 I will be hosting ten to twelve fly fishers who are interested in unlimited deep Alaska fly fishing thrills to be remembered... Over the last almost twenty years I have spent time with world class fly fishers and hard core adventurers seeking all species fly fishing action rare in this changing world.

Excellent food, lodging and guides who are more serious then you my fly fisher friends. Lake Marie owned by legendary Alaskan Pioneer David Wilson and family is a must do trip if your real serious or want to get to the next level. Contact David Wilson for dates and details of my hosting week. Mention my name and then let your imagination get started. More fly action then any other international fly venue I have ever visited. Small client list 12 or less for the week. See you at lake Marie this spring,

Written by Dan Fallon © 2016

Dan Fallon Fly Fishing Article Column 2 2016
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