About Jack Sparks

Information about Jack Sparks

Waco Fly Fishing Club was previously named Jack Sparks Central Texas Flyrodders.

Jack “McFish” Sparks was a nationally recognized Fly Caster, Rod Builder, Fly Tyer and Lure Manufacturer. He owned the Bucktail Bait Co. located originally on Franklin Ave before moving operations to his home on Reuter in north Waco. Many of the founding club members knew and fished with Jack or met him while he was teaching fly fishing at McLennan County Community College and during tying demonstrations at the now defunct Sportster on Valley Mills Drive.

A couple of years after Jack’s death in 1989, a group of Waco fly fishing enthusiasts met to form a fly fishing club. It was through a unanimous vote that the new club would be named after Jack as a posthumous honor. That was the beginning of the Jack Sparks Central Texas Flyrodders.

One of the last pictures of Jack was published in the Waco Tribune Herald. He was holding a big redfish landed out of Tradinghouse Creek Reservoir.

Jack was named to the All-American Fly Fishing Team in 1941 and 1948. He held the Texas Distance Casting Title in 1942 and set an unofficial World Distance Casting Record at a competition in Cleburne, Texas that same year. During his competition days, he often competed with Joan Salvato Wulff, pre-Lee and served as her line tender, or “gillie”, while she cast. He went on to become friends with both Lee and Joan for many years.

Jack’s rod designs appear to be ahead of his time. He loved one-piece rods and many were designed for fly and spinning gear interchangeably. Many of his handle designs and extended butts (made on fiberglass and brown graphite) are being marketed today as the latest design for offshore fly rods. Jack worked with G. Loomis in his later years refining his tapers and cores. In addition he designed and marketed fly lines built to his specifications.

Jack was recognized by the Antique Lure Collector’s Society as being the first to market jointed fly patterns. A pre WWII catalog from the Bucktail Bait Co. clearly depicts these. This same group has recognized that a lure he developed, the Gallopin Goldfish should have been awarded the patent he sought in 19XX. The club has in it possession not only several of the finished lures, but also some hand hammered brass prototypes.

Testimonials about Jack from club members

From Matt Michels:

It was Jack’s fly display at the Sportster that fascinated me and made me want to learn more about fly tying. Even though I never got to meet Jack, I feel that I know him through the afternoons in Billy Whitehead’s storage locker; the many rods, reels and memorabilia I have inherited for the club; and the research I’ve done trying to find out more about him. Jack to me was the most innovative and wonderfully eccentric fly fishers I have come across. It seems there was nothing that he did not dabble with, improve or redesign. On top of that, how cool is it that he had competed in the 1940’s sporting an Errol Flynn mustache and wearing a “do-rag”.