Welcome to Just Old Flies

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 tiers imagination.

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 twenty-six

Emerald Shiner

Emerald Shiner

Compiled By Deanna Birkholm


"The first Thunder Creek patterns were tied in the spring of 1962 and tested in their northern Wisconsin namesake river that same summer. I was seaching for a method of tying a minnow fly that would produce an imitation more lifelike in appearance and action than the conventional bucktails and streamers that were in general use. I was familiar with the old procedure of reversing bucktail on a hook to make a small ball head on a fly, but the technique had not been developed to accurately imitate a baitfish in overall proportion or in coloring. Using this reversing technique and two or sometimes three colors of bucktail, I lengthened the head to about one fifth the length of the entire fly, using brown hair for the back, white for the belly, and dyed shades for the flank coloring, if needed. Red tying thread provided a flash of gill coloring. After the head was well coated with lacquer, a yellow base eye with a black pupil was added in about the center of the head.

Over time modest changes have also been made in tying procedures. I now tie the flies with white thread instead of red. This allows them to be tied more sparsely because it eliminates the necessity of using a heavy batch of white bucktail to cover up the red thread wrappings in the throat area. Now if little gaps appear between the strands of reversed white hair in the head area, the white tying thread blends in and the fly looks slim and neat. Gill coloring is added by putting a touch of red lacquer on each side of the bottom part of the white thread wrappings that hold the bucktail in the reversed position. In addition, I now use light cream-colored lacquer instead of yellow for the base eye. This is more in keeping with the true eye color of most baitfish...

All of the Thunder Creek patterns can be tied in marabou by substituting that material in the proper colors for the bucktail initially called for. In weighting a fly, I like to add the weight only to the forward part of the hook shank, primarily under the head. This keep the fly from riding upside down due to the added weight upsetting the natural hook balance and give the fly a little diving action as you swim it across the water in a series of darting motions. A 4X to 6X long straight eye hook is the best one to use because the straight eye acts as an extension of the head and the retrieve is not influenced by an up- or down-turned hook eye. In addition, the procedure of reversing the bucktail to shape the head and body of the fly is much easier to accomplish on a straight eye hook than on an up or down eye. Partridge of Redditch makes a beautiful Thunder Creek hook and I highly recommend it.

I do have a favorite out of the twenty-one Thunder Creek patterns and it's the Emerald Shiner. It not only imitates that species of baitfish but duplicated the broad range of forage fish that have dark back, whitish underparts, and bright iridescent flanks. ~ Keith Fulsher."

The pattern is: Emerald Shiner (Notropis atherinoides)

    Hook:   Long-shank.

    Hook Shank Covering:   Pearl mylar tubing.

    Lateral Coloring:  None.

    Top of Head and Back:  Brown part of green dyed bucktail.

    Bottom of Head and Belly:  White bucktail.

    Eye:  Cream lacquer with black pupil.

    Note: The back and belly hair is tied on with the tips pointed forward over the hook eye, then reversed to shape the head and body of the fly. White thread should be used, and gill coloring added by placing a touch of red lacquer on each side of the bottom part of the thread collar. Heads are all coated with a thin coat of epoxy and allowed to dry before the eyes and gills are added.

Credits: Photo, quoted sections and information from Streamer FlyTying & Fishing by Joseph D. Bates, Jr., published by Stackpole Books.

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