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-five

Royal Coachman

Royal Coachman

Compiled by Deanna Lee Birkholm


"Quoting from Favorite Flies and Their Histories by Mary Orvis Marbury, "The Royal Coachman was first made in 1878 by John Hailey, a prefessional fly-dresser living in New York city. In writing of other matters, he inclosed a sample of this fly for us to see, saying: "A gentleman wanted me to tie some Coachman for him to take up into the north woods, and to make them extra strong, so I have tied them with a little bank of silk in the middle, to prevent the peacock bodies from fraying out. I have also added a tail of the barred feathers of wood-duck, and I think it makes a very handsome fly." A few evenings later, a circle of us were together "disputing the fly question," one of the party claiming that numbers were "quite suitable to designate the flies as so many nonsensical names." The others did not agree with him, but he said: "What can you do? Here is a fly intended to be a Coachman, yet it is not the true Coachman; is quite unlike it, and what can you call it?" Mr. L.C. Orvis, brother of Mr. Charles Orvis, who was present, said: "Oh, that is easy enough; call it the Royal Coachman, it is so finely dressed!" And this name in time came to be known and used by all who are familiar with the fly." Credits: Quoted text from Favorite Flies and Their Histories, by Mary Orvis Marbury, published by The Lyons Press. Color photo and dressing from Forgotten Flies published by The Complete Sportsman.

Recipe for the Royal Coachman

    Tag:   Gold.

    Tail:   Green, golden pheasant tippet (as shown, but not the orginal - barred feathers of wood-duck,)

    Body:   Peacock herl with scarlet floss center.

    Hackle:   Brown.

    Wing:   White.

As with so many of the 'old flies' more than one story about the origin exists. Here's another:

The Royal Coachman was first tied in New York city by a fly dresser named John Haily. The red floss body was developed to strengthen an older pattern called the Coachman. This was done because the teeth of the Brook Trout in Upstate Maine were too hard on the Standard Coachman. It was labeled "Royal," as it reminded people of the British Red Coats. This name was suggested by Charles Orvis's brother. Charles Orvis went on to found the famous fly fishing company that bears his name. The fly here is tied per the original John Haily pattern.

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