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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-four

Ozark Minnow

Ozark Minnow

Compiled by Deanna Lee Birkholm


"It is many years since the bucktail fly first made its appearance. So far as can be learned, the early attempts consisted merely in tying a bunch of hair about the eye of the hook, much in the manner of the treble hook bobs now used with spoons for Pike and Muskellonge, only smaller. Doubtless, the first important step toward converting this into a "fly" was that of Miss Westwood, the well-known Wisconsin fly-tyer, who, starting at the bend of the hook, tied in a half-dozen alternate bunches of brown and white so that the hair, instead of completely surrounding the shank, was confined below the hook for form a large, flat wing which effectively covered the barb and bend, rendering the hook substantially weedless. When thus tied, the fly rode with the wing upright in the water with the hook turned up. These were originally called "Miss Westwood's Bass Bugs," but they have since become known as "Mississippi Bass Bugs," due to their popularity along the upper reaches of that historic stream.

As time went on, others undertook to improve the pattern. This eventually resulted in what is now termed the "Ozark Weedless Bucktail," a product of the Stroud Fly Company of Arlington Heights, Illinois. As tied by them there is an oblique fringe of hair on the back or top of the hook. This increases in width towards the eye as shown in sketch No. 19c.

This lure is tied in a variety of colour combinations, including natural bucktail; alternate green and white; alternate black and white; all yellow; all white; alternate red and yellow; and all black. The first three are undoubtedly the most popular at the present time, but tastes seem to change from year to year.

Suggestions For Tying The Stroud Weedless Bucktail
(Commercial Method)

The ensuing calaculations apply only to a hook having a shank space for a body one and one quarter inches long. This may be a No. 1/0, or a No. 2/0 ringed sproat, depending upon the manufacturer. For other sizes of hooks, the figures should be modified as explained below.

Size "A" silk thread will be used, and this winds eleven close turns per one eigth inch of hook shank; therefore, one and one quarter inches equals one hundred and ten turns (10 x 11).

There will be eight ties of hair. Thus, each tie, (except the last) will occupy a net space equal to fourteen turns; the last tie having but twelve. All turns of thread should therefore be carefully counted and applied snugly, one against the other, in order to have the ties of even length and that they may end up properly at the eye of the hook.

Just a word about the hair: For best results, use fine bucktail for all sizes up to No. 2/0. The No. 8/0 Muskellonge lure requires hair that is twice as long as that for the No. 1/0, about to be described; and for this purpose, coarse bucktail, moose mane, and skunk tail are often used. Some bucktails are coarse near the body end and fine at the outer end; but the very large tails are apt to be too coarse, even at the outer end, to make good bass-size Ozarks. For small Ozarks, calf tail works very well.

1. Place the hook in the vise and attach size "A" thread (waxed) to the bend in the usual manner. When secured, the thread leading from the hook is one and one quarter inches away from the eye of the hook. It is well not to have the hook too deeply imbedded in the vise for the first three ties. Later, it may be reset farther in, so that the barb and a part of the shank are covered by the jaws.

2. Having decided upon the colour combination to be used, take a bunch of hair about one eighth of an inch in diameter when it is tightly twisted, and line up the tip ends.

With the butt end pointing to the right, grasp it with the left hand so that the first turn of thread comes two and one eighth inches from the tip. Wind fourteen turns to the right, letting the hair slide around the hook. This completed, gather the butt ends in a bundle on top of the hook, fold this over to the left, and, keeping it top of the hook, wind thirteen close turns to the left, then twelve close turns to the right (over the previous turns), and add a half-hitch.

3. For the second tie: Use a bunch of hair three thirty-seconds of an inch in diameter. Having lined up the tip ends, hold the hair in the left hand - but, this time, with the tips pointing to the right. Keep the hair on top of the hook, so that the first turn of the thread comes two and one half inches from the tip. Wind fourteen close turns to the right.

Divide the hair carefully into two equal bunches. Bend them down astraddle the hook, twist them together again (below the shank) in order to facilitate holding it in a bunch beneath the hook, and then take thirteen close turns of thread to the left. Keep this lower hair entirely under the hook and pointing to the left as the thread is applied. Then take twelve close turns to the right and add a half-hatch.

4. For the third tie: Use the same amount of hair as for the second. Grasp it exactly as before (with the tips pointing to the right), but hold it so that the first turn of thread now comes two and five eights inches from the tip. Apply fourteen turns to the right.

Divide the hair as before and bend the two portions down, astraddle the hook. Twist them together again below the hook, and then take thirteen close turns of thread to the left, followed by twelve to the right, and add a half-hitch. The in which all tis is done can be seen the sketches Nos. 19a and 19b.

5. The fourth tie is made in the same manner as the second and third. The quantity of hair is the same also, but it is held in such a manner that the first turn now comes two and three quarters from the tips, which, of course, as before, extends to the right along the top of the hook. Apply fourteen close turns to the right. Then divide the hair as before; twist it below the hook and apply thirteen close turns to the left, followed by twelve to the right, plus a half-hitch.

6. The fifth and sixth ties are identical in every respect with the fourth.

7. In the seventh tie: The first turn comes two and five eighths inches from the tip, otherwise it is the same as the fifth and sixth ties.

8. The hair for the eighth tie is held so that the first turn comes two and one half inches from the tip, which, of course, points to the right. Take twelve turns of thread to the right, or in any event to the eye of the hook, then eleven turns to the left followed by eleven to the right. When going to the right for the last time apply a whip finish with the final six turns.

9. Trim the butt ends of the hair on a bias as shown in sketch No. 19c. It is best to hold the hair between the left thumb and forefinger and to cut towards the eye of the hook. There is a tendency for the scissors to work in toward the hook shank, so take it slowly, with small snips. Guide the scissors with the left thumbnail.

If a first-rate job has been done, there will be no hairs coming out from either side of the hook, and all ties of thread (except the last) should be of the same width, i.e. five thirty-seconds of an inch. If any hairs have slipped around to the sides, take a good pair of tweezers and snip or break them off close to the thread.

All the exposed thread should now be given two coats of lacquer. Try not to let any of this get on the hair, but if some does it may be combed out, when dry, with a sharp needle.

The common tendency, when starting to tie these Weedless Bucktails, is to take too much hair for each tie. This not only means that the excess must later be cut away and therefore wasted, but it makes the tying doubly difficult as the hair works around to the sides of the hook."

Credits: Quoted text and black and white photo and drawings from Fly~Tying, by William Bayard Sturgis, published by Charles Scribner's Sons (1940).

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