Welcome to Just Old Flies

Welcome to 'just old flies,' a section of flies that used-to-be. These flies were tied with the only materials available. Long before the advent of 'modern' tying materials, they were created and improved upon at a far slower pace than todays modern counterparts; limited by materials available and the tiers imagination.

Most books, and yes, even we here, bring 'new and improved' designs; however, in days long gone, fish readily accepted these creations; there existed a 'fraternity' of anglers who felt an obligation to use only the 'standard' patterns of the day. We hope to bring a bit of nostalgia to these pages and to you. Perhaps you will enjoy them. Perhaps you will fish them. Perhaps . . .

Part One

Lizzard Fishing on the Au Sable

By "Old Rupe"

Flies conceived, executed, and fished by fishermen can't be understood just by a picture or even looking at a fly. The personality and fishing style of the creator seldom shows through. Great flies are sometimes passed off as just flies because we never saw the creator tie and fish them.

The creator of this fly was George Wallace, who in the early 80's was already an old man. He was a streamer fisherman. The supreme streamer fisherman. One of my best days on the Au Sable was when I caught one more than the 'gov', (no relation to the Alabama Wallace - but every one called him gov). I think he had a problem with his legs, as he always fished downstream - and used an ash home-made wading staff. He fished a streamer like a man would swat flies-smack-smack-smack. If a trout didn't take the gov's fly it wasn't because the trout didn't see it. Great presentation - down one side of a log, back into a sweeper, missing few holding spots - a perfectionist.

Start of Fly's Only Water Stephans

I met him because his wife and mine talked while we fished. We fished different methods and I passed him not realizing his act. His wife would read a novel and talk to my wife and then pick him up downstream. He fished the area downstream of the canoe take-out below Stephans bridge and also the start of the fly only water.

During a 3-4 year period we met each other and I kind of caught the gov's act - observing it from a distance. He could catch a fish and most people on the stream would never even know. Old gov was slick.

The Lizzard

He finally showed me his lizzard act - at that time no one ever fished lizzards - especially for trout. The gov would position himself at right angles to the holding area - 20 feet or so away. He liked the holding area to have 3-4 feet of water and a little current. He used a floating line and would cast 5-6 feet above the lie, fishing the lizzard tight to structure. That weighted lizzard would sink like a rock. He fished with a high rod - mostly leader in the water and occassionally would give a small 6-inch twitch.

The gov never discussed his successes with most. When he was pestered by some of us old regulars he would say, "Oh I got 4-5 today." If he kept half of what he caught he would have turned the Au Sable into a desert.

Step-cast-cast-cast-step-cast-cast-cast. Now and then he would slick that nasty lizzard into the deep water in an outside bend, or around a slight deep hole under a sweeper. I think I'm the only one he every showed the lizzard act to.

When I look at the flies, I see the gov - his ash staff and his smack-smack-smack attack, and remember that deep nasty lizzard in the deep bends.

The gov's gone now. Two years ago I spent two or three hours at the canoe take-out below Stephans bridge, by the artesian spring, thinking about him and his wife. A quiet gentleman. A master at his craft.
~Old Rupe

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