Sportsman Cigarettes flies

Shuffling through some drawers the other day I happened on some cigarette packages. These little gems took me back to the mid sixties in Kelowna British Columbia. I started tying back then at a fairly young age. With a new 1962 rotary Universal Vice sitting in front of me I preceded to try to figure out how to tie flies.

Much of my initial tying was done through direct observation of how my Dad did it and a wonderful Scottish neighbor who tied the most fantastic salmon flies. Between the two of them I absorbed a rich history of information. Stories wandered to great waters Good scotch and tying flies. Most kids had a paper rout. I tied flies for the local sporting goods store.

Back then there weren’t fly shops with the massive abundance of materials that we have at our calling as we have today. The fall procured upland birds, waterfowl and big game for materials. The materials where simpler.

Found Books where a luxury but I was passed a few by Whuff and Lessering among others. The local library was a limited source and the web was what you saw along the stream banks filled with mayflies There was also Field and Stream Magazine that I read incessantly till they fell apart.

Dad was a smoker and I discovered to my joy that the back of his Sportsman packages contained beautiful Illustrations of flies. Month by month I waited for him to finish a pack. Dry flies, Wets, streamers all the flies of the day where there. I carefully cut them out and placed them in a Sportsman tobacco tin. Then I pondered the ties and the wondrous materials used in their construction. They where a source of wonder to me back then. I slowly acquired other books and these little gems where put aside. I even had a small book that contained the full series of Sportsman flies which has long since disappeared. I decided to post some of these package backs here to share with you these images.

Thanks for looking and may the trout be feeding where you are.


27 responses to “Sportsman Cigarettes flies

  1. Found your posting when researching a Sportsman’s League pin I found when cleaning out my father’s possessions after his passing. Looks like the pin was promotional for Sportman’s Cigarettes and might go well with your collection of cigarette packs. If you want it, I’ll gladly mail it you–no charge–just want to find a home for it rather than toss it out.

  2. Received the pin, thank you very much for the consideration I really like it, , I have posted it here on my blog so others can enjoy it.

  3. Just came across your website and the mention of Sportsman Cigarettes fly patterns on their packages. And I just may have something to share with one and all if interested.

    My better half came home on Sunday from a booksale and showed me four store display boards and asked if I’d be interested in them …

    After I finished catching my breath naturally started doing a bit of research on the web … and there does not seem to be much in the way of information other than a dedicated site at:

    Anyway, if you’d like I can send you four hi-rez photos of the display cards which measure 10-3/4″ x 17-1/4″.

    Let me know !!


  4. Came across your site while looking for info on Sportsman cigarettes signs/posters etc. I have been a long time fan of Sportsman cigarettes memorabilia of all types.Have a huge collection of the backs of the cigarette packs similar to the ones posted on this blog. Also have signs/posters/prints/manuals/pinbacks/ etc. and even a lighter with great sportsman cigs logo. I also have full/empty cig packages both hard and soft cover and cig papers. I don’t smoke but am fascinated by the sportsman fishing flies. . My favorite collectible are the cardboard signs with the great flies depicted in such a beautiful fashion ; my main dilema is that I do not know how many different Sportsman signs & fly posters actually were produced / exist. Anybody got answers i whole or in part ?

  5. Again – a great site ! As a collector, I was wondering if you have any duplicate cards ( backs of cig packs) that you would be interested in trading for similar cards that you do not have. I have quite a few sportsman duplicates in my collection .


    Hal Bartlett

  6. Hi Lornce: just came across your wonderful website. Brought back a lot of memories of my Uncle Fred White, of Port Alberni BC Canada. A great fly fisherman and guide who tied his own flies. When I was a small child (late 40’s, early 50’s) I used to watch my uncle tie flies in his private workshop. He saved the Sportsmans packages for me, and always had some for me when I visited. He left one of his beautiful polished bamboo fishing rods for me when he died, plus a stack of Sportsman packs. I have written about him in magazine articles and in poems, and he jumped vividly into my memory on reading your piece about Sportsmans and looking at the familiar yellow packs. Thanks you! Ellery Littletoin – Victoria BC Canada

  7. Hello Charles – just saw your article of almost three years ago ! Any chance you could send me by email the pictures of your four display boards. I’m a collector of sportsman cigarette fly cards and almost anything ” Sportsman ” from the same cigarette company. I have three boards and don’t know what the board looks like that I am missing.
    Hal Bartlett

    • I could have sworn I sent them to Lance for public posting so all could see … guess he never did … I also have more issues of the booklets fully scanned & dated as well.

      The posters are not dated like the booklets are, sadly and research will have to be done … so please do pics of your posters and i’ll send you mine … with a closeup of the bottom left hand corner which may or may not have a code number … my guess is that since no one from the Sportsman group now have any info these many years later, it will be up to us fans to check the fonts, the info, and the designs on the posters with comparisons to the fly pic pages in the booklets for particular years to finally date these puppies and finish a good guide history on both the formats.

      A big issue is how many posters were distributed in each set ? … you’ll see from my four that three are more modern and one is older (with code number).

      For booklet dates, look at the inner back cover next to the bottom left corner …. So far I’ve got 7341-52, 7398-54, 7450-56 …. the last two digits are the years published. Matching the booklets with the posters is the biggie.

      Another fan is Ron at … he has some info that may help as well. Just mention my name.

      And a note to Lance … any chance of you updating your site for the Sportsman stuff we’ve found and have pics of along with the data on their history????


      • Hello Charlie and thanks for the information – I am sending you pictures of my five different Sportsman posters tonight . I thought I had only three; however I have three of the older type and two of the newer ones. As you will see, I have No. 1 and No. 3 of the newer type ( hence am missing No. 2 ). I still don’t know how many of the older type were made and the same goes for the newer type. I think by exchanging pictures, code numbers , etc. we will narrow the field. Regarding the booklets, I have three with two having the same codes as yours. The third I have is code No. 7248 ( only four digits ) that you do not have. From your info, I do not have booklet No. 7398-54. I can send you a pic of that if you wish.
        Many thanks – I have finally found someone I can converse with on this topic and knowlege share etc.
        Hal Bartlett

  8. SPORTSMAN CIGARETTE PRIZES…..Hey everyone, was wondering if anyone remembers a period when Sportsman had a promo in putting half pictures of prizes that could be won. I remember a few prizes and one was a small fishing boat which I believe was the best prize. However there were instant prizes and my dad who let my sister Barb open the pack in I’m guessing 1968 ish and she pulled an instant prize of a BBQ. I was 8 or 9 back then and remember collecting the half pictures. Does anyone else remember this? I’m in Toronto Ontario Canada so this may have been a localized promo but my sisters and I are curious as no one remembers one hundred percent but I’m pretty sure I got it right….

    • Hello Rick. I remember the half pictures too. My dad smoked Sportsmans in Nova Scotia so the promo wasn’t too localized. He won a set of Stanley screwdrivers. I was about 12 or 13 so your 1968 is real close. I stumbled across a Sportsman Across Canada book today showing all the fly patterns, how to dress big game, first aid, etc. which is the only reason I sumbled across this site. Anyone wants to reminisce some more, especially about antiques, my email is


  9. have uchanged the sportsman packet,the one i get is different from the one i used to have.please clarify if you have changed

  10. I inherited a set of 4 sportsmans fly tying posters from my dad, along with a lot of fishing gear. I’m wondering where the best place to sell them is, or whether someone here might light to purchase them.

      • Dear carol1581 … could you possibly send me photos of the posters … esp a closeup of any numbers that may be evident in the lower left hand corners, if any … would be appreciated … hopefully Lornce hasn’t scooped them yet … so if available still, I’d be interested … have been putting together a history of the advert giveways and posters of the company for years … and these would be great to add to it … but if not, I would definitely wish that you provide some photos … send to … I’m retired now and historical items like these are of great interest. Many thanks for your time … best … Charlie

      • Hi there. Have not yet contacted anyone re the sportsman posters. Still going through the fishing memorabilia, rods, reels, etc and have come across some old reels and a couple of really old fly wallets that seem to be from the late 1800s, as well as old dip nets I remember using with Dad 50 years ago. Also a lot of fly tying stuff and other tobaciana…tins, etc. I find it very difficult to get onto here because of the password requirement for a password I never use so if you are interested I invite you to email me ay seaspray(at) telus dot net and I will be in touch as we get into late fall.

        Thank you

    • Hello: I have been collecting sportsman cards for years but do not have any posters. Ebay is a great place to sell them but I would like a chance to buy them if possible. Please advise your asking price and shipping costs. Thanks.

  11. I have a pack of Woodcock & Red plain, Sportsman cigarettes that belonged to my late brother-in-law. When he quit smoking he always kept a pack in his workshop where he could see them. He said that he was less tempted to smoke if he knew that he could have one any time he wanted. It must have worked because the package is still full. My father died when I was 16 and my brother-in-law was always there for me when I needed someone the most. Now I keep the cigarettes in my den where I can see them to remind me of him.

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