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 thirty-three

Original Bumblepuppy


Compiled by Deanna Birkholm

"This historic fly, orginally tied both as a bucktail and as a streamer, evidently is the first of all the modern patterns of this type. Orginated by the famous Theodore Gordon, creator of the popular Quill Gordon and father of the American dry fly, the Bumblepuppy actually is not one fly but rather several related patterns as developed by Mr. Gordon over many years prior to his death in 1915."

"Theodore Gordon (1854 - 1915), fisherman, writer, and professonal fly tier, evidently named the Bumblepuppy with a purpose, for the literal translation is "whist played without rules." [whist is a card game.] Regarded as a fly for which there is no name, there are at least twenty known variations of the Bumblepuppy. Gordon would often enclose one such variation when filling orders for his customers. Widely regarded as the father of the American dry fly, some would argue that Theordore Gordon, "the American Walton and Sage of the Neversink," is also the father of the first commercially established American streamer and bucktail."

The fly shown at the top of this article is supposed to have been tied by Gordon himself, although the recipe given is not for this fly.

As tied by Herman Christian

The fly directly above, tied by Herman Christian, one of Gordons fishing companions, who continued to tie this fly after Gordon became ill, for the public. According to Joseph D. Bates, Jr., in Streamer Fly Tying & Fishing "Thus it would seem that the "twenty kinds of Bumblepuppies" tied from time to time by Theodore Gordon were a progressive attempt at what he thought was the ideal pattern. Since Mr. Gordon's research was cut short by his untimely death, evidently Mr. Christian's adaptation should be considered as the final verson and as such it should be accepted. Quite obviously, Theordore Gordon was far in advance of his time in developing streamers and bucktails, since his early work compares favorably with that of others done decades later. Added to his fame as "the father of the American dry fly" should be equal fame for having originated the modern streamer fly and bucktail."

as tied by Herman Christian of Neversink, NY

    Hook:   Size 2 or 4 long shank streamer fly hook. The early Bumblepuppies were tied on regular wet fly hooks, usually in size 4 or 6. Long hooks were not available during Mr. Gordon's lifetime.

    Head:   Black.

    Tail:   A small bunch of red hackle fibers, rather long.

    Body:   White wool or chenille, rather heavy.

    Ribbing:   A single strand of red wool yarn.

    Throat:   About two turns of a red and white neck hackle, mixed to make a very long but not heavily dressed collar.

    Wing:  A bunch of white bucktail, extending slightly beyond the tail of the fly. The lower half of the bunch of bucktail is clipped off at about half its length after it has been tied in. Over the bucktail is a wing of two long but narrow matched sections of a brown turkey tail feather, extending as far as the beginning of the tail.

"The above evidently is the Bumblepuppy preferred by Theodore Gordon. In using it, Mr. Christian found that better result were obtained by dressing the body with white chenille, without the red wool ribbing."

The fly was noted for taking big native trout and landlocked salmon, brown trout, bass, walleyed pike and atlantic salmon.

Credits: Quoted text, recipe and photos from Streamer Fly Tying & Fishing by Joseph D. Bates, Jr., published by Stackpole Books. ~ DLB

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