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 ninty-two

Cross Special

Cross Special

Compiled by Deanna Lee Birkholm


Quoting Reuben R. Cross, of Lew Beach, New York, from Fly Patterns and Their Origins:

"I started fly tying because I didn't have the ten cents to buy all the dry fly hooks* that I wanted, back in 1906. There was no one in those days who would share any secrets in tying the dry fly, or any other kind. Theodore Gorden, who was considered about 'IT' in those days, used to stay in Neversink and we were quite good friends, so I got a few of his flies and working, trying to copy them for a long time, guess it took me six or seven years before I got so I could tie a fly that suited me, and I still am disgusted with some I tie.

The Cross Special was a cross between the Gordon Quill and light Cahill. I first tied it because the two flies were the best and most popular on the Catskill streams, and I thought the 'cross' should be good, and it has been as effective as any that I know. All I did was put the light Cahill body on the Gordon Quill maing it a 'cross' bread. I didn't intend my name to be hooked to it but it wasn't long before it was."

The Cross is similar to the present light Hendrickson, but with a still lighter body.

* Sparse Grey Hackle says: What Cross refers to as 'dry fly hooks' means flies, not hooks. The old timers always referred to a fly as a 'fly hook' and a spinner as a 'spoon hook.' Dry flies were ten cents apiece in the fold days, sort of a standard price, like three dollars a dozen now (Or has it gone up again?) Authors note - "Sparce Grey Hackle" is Alfred W. Miller of New York City."

Credits: Quoted text and black and white photo from Fly Patterns and Their Origins. Colored fly photos from Trout, by Ray Bergman, published by Knopf.

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