Franz Bernard Pott was born near Aachen, Germany on November 22, 1877. His early training and education was as a barber and wig maker. At a young age he migrated to England and lived in London at the time of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. In the early 1900s he migrated to the United States where he worked his way west. He worked for some period as a barber in Crookston, Minn. On a trip back to Europe, he visited a brother who was working in the Netherlands. Here he met Henrietta Keune and they became engaged before the start of World War I. He returned to the U. S. and due to the war Henrietta could not join him until 1920. They were married in Missoula and lived for a time in Darby, where he kept bees. They moved back to Missoula, where he purchased a barbershop. Their two children, Francis and Betty, were born in Missoula. He worked in the barbershop until 1932 or 1933 when he had to discontinue because of problem with varicose veins.
During all this time he had enjoyed fly fishing and had made hair flies for himself using his skill as a wig maker and duplicating insects he found in nature on which the fish fed. He also made some of these flies for friends who admired them in the barbershop. When he had to retire from the barbershop, he started making these flies as a business. He was unable at first to find anyone in the Missoula area who could make the woven hackles. He ended up sending instructions to his sister in Germany and his two sisters-in-law in the Netherlands. For years they made them and sent them by mail. He instructed local housewives in the assembling of the bodies and they did this work in their own homes - a real "cottage industry". In later years other local housewives also made the hackles.
The Mite family was originated by Franz Pott and over the years the Sandy Mite and Lady Mite have been the most popular flies. The woven body with the mostly orange strip and the woven hair hackle characterized the Pott Trout Fly. Over the years he originated more designs for unique flies, naming some for fishing friends or for whimsical reasons, as the Fizzle - named for Fort Fizzle of Western Montana Indian history. In all there are 30 different patterns that have been copyrighted.
At all times he used the best hooks, hair and snells that he could obtain. All flies are hand tied on imported hollow points and the hackles and bodies of the original patterns are woven of hair by a patented process. The hair hackles will not cling to the body when wet, but permits the body to remain free. This gives the fly a motion which makes it appear alive when in the water.
The flies were marketed throughout the western states and he received orders from the East from individuals as well.
After Frank Pott's death in 1956, his widow, Henrietta, carried on the business until her death in 1958. The business was bought locally, and the flies have continued to be manufactured sporadically by various owners in the Missoula area. The current owner of the Pott Trout Flies is Mike Wilkerson, Missoula, Montana.
Betty Pott Thanos,
So. San Francisco, CA