Welcome to 'just old flies,' a section of methods and 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
Once long gone, 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. And sometimes what you find here will not always be
about fishing. Perhaps you will enjoy them. Perhaps you
will fish the flies. Perhaps . . .
Part One hundred-twentythree
H and L Variant
Compiled and Tied By
Thomas C. Duncan, Sr.
Photo by James Birkholm
Archive of Old Flies
The variant is a style rather than a pattern, and according to
Fly Patterns and Their Origins, any standard
pattern can be tied as a variant. The variant is defined
as "more lightly and with longer but less hackle and called
them 'long-hackled, sparsely dressed flies'."
While the photo shown here is about one and a half 'normal'
hackle length, most variants were tied with twice the normal
This long hackle design is credited to Dr. Wm Baigent of Yorkshire, England,
in 1875. Reputed to be one of England's most successful anglers, is
credited with eleven patterns. They were all dressed with "natural
Old english game cock feathers" with long hackles, giving them
buoyancy and high riding qualities, in which position he claimed
the rays of light played upon the iridescent fibres and made them
attractive to fish by "life and form." The eleven patterns included
four spinners, four variants, light, dark red and rusty, and a black,
a brown and an olive.
As a further development he registered a set of twelve patterns as
"Refracta Dry Flies." The hackles were separated; short for pattern
as legs, and long, for floating qualities, to disturb the water and
produce an altered refraction.
The pattern is:
Hook: Dry Fly hook.
Tails: Calf tail or body hair.
Body: Stripped peacock herl quill followed by thick herl.
Wing: Calf tail or body hair.
~ Thomas C. Duncan, Sr.
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