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
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 . . .
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.
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.
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
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.
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