Watchin' For You!

J. Castwell
November 23rd, 1998

'just old flies'

Golfers, bowlers, tennis players, and a whole list of recreationists have a bit of a disadvantage compared to fly-fishers. They can hardly fashion a 'new' golf ball, a better bowling ball, tennis ball, or most of the equipment we fly-fishers use; especially, flies. We have, ever since the idea of attaching something to some form of hook, searched for things to try to make a better product.

Over the centuries the progress of the fly moved at a fairly controlled pace, limited mostly by products on hand and the tiers imagination. The last fifty years has however seen a remarkable explosion of 'new-stuff' to attach to a hook. With it has come a ga-zillion 'new and improved' variations of earlier variations of even earlier variations etc; many carrying the name of the latest innovator. This is all well and fine. It has also caused a demise in the use of many 'time honored' patterns whose lives spanned many years. This is not so good.

I am not in any way an authority on old flies, but have fished a few in my earlier days. Then it was possible to ask a fellow fly-fisher what he was using and when he told you, you had a rather clear idea of what he meant. Not withstanding the fact that a March brown is not a brown, but a drake (whatever that is) and should be called a brown drake; and that the great red spinner is not a spinner and does not spin but is the last stage in the development of the March brown ( i.e., brown drake) and should be called an amber drake. Add to that the fact the March brown ( i.e., brown drake) is also known as cob fly, great brown, and dun drake. Follow all that with 'a dun is a half-done drake, and a spinner is a done dun.' It is understandable how the 'fly-tying-naming' game got so confusing.

Giving all that some thought, it seems a good idea to show some of the 'old flies' here. When we can also something on how they were fished. This should be helpful to new fly fishers, give fly tiers something else to try, and maybe spark a memory or two in others.

There will not be any great attempt to give tying instructions as many of the original have been lost in time. 'Just old flies' will picture and give materials and whatever information is available as we put each on the column. I would welcome any assistance with this endeavor as any of you may wish to offer. It is our hope these will bring a measure of interest and opportunity to all of you.

You will find the new column this week entitled 'just old flies' on here and by a coincidence the fly offered by Mike Connor in the 'Europe' column is about an old fly, the Peter Ross. Here we have a Britt, living in Germany, who fishes in Denmark, writing about a fly named for a fellow in Killin, Scotland who was not a fly tier, but an avid sportsman. Remarkable stuff.~ JC

Till next week, remember ...

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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