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?


The Great Sea Ducer

By Alan Shepherd, Australia (Tasmania)
Tied and Photographed by Richard Komar, Plano, Texas


The Sea Ducer is an ancient dressing and actually one of the oldest bass flies. It was first developed and popularized in the 1880's as the Red & White Hackle Fly. This classic fly has easily stood the test of time.

In his 1999 book, Presenting the Fly, Lefty Kreh states: "This is one of the best patterns for both large and smallmouth bass that I've fished. I never make a trip without some of these in my box. Oddly enough, I've tried many other color combinations, but none is nearly as effective as red and white (some other color combos do work in salt water, though)."

The original Sea Ducer was only about 2 1/3 to 3 inches in length. Homer Rhode, Jr. actually dressed the pattern much larger as a shrimp fly to take bonefish in the Florida Keys. Joe Bates, in his 1950 edition of Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing, called it the Homer Rhode, Jr., Tarpon Streamer. Today, it is commonly known as the Sea Ducer. Chico Fernandez used this pattern extensively and proved its worth as a redfish fly.

The difference between what was used for decades and what Rhode dressed was size. Today's Sea Ducer is made at least 4 to 5 inches long and can be as long as 7 inches.

I'm not sure how they came up with the name Sea Ducer, but it's a great name for a fly. Seduce in the dictionary means "to tempt into wrongdoing." Throughout history, seducers would dazzle with their appearance, stimulating the imagination in a flirtatious way. Much like Casanova who would dazzle a woman with his clothes, the Sea Ducer allures fish of many species with it's seductive feather dance.

Because of the many hackles radiating out from the palmered shank, and its long undulating tail, this fly lands on the water softer than most large saltwater patterns. The tails act like miniature outriggers giving a natural action while the palmered body adds both color and movement, as well as, creating lots of fish attracting vibrations when stripping in.

When drawn through the water, the hackle body provides enough size to move some water, thereby attracting attention. Yet when paused, the palmered hackles cause the fly to settle more slowly, thus suspending it in the water column and making it ideal for shallow water fishing. The soft presentation and the ability to hold the fly almost stationary in front of a fish can make it so tantalizingly seductive that it is irresistible. For fishing in weedy areas, a weed guard is added. For fishing deeper in the water column, lead wire is added to the shank.

Sea Ducers can be fished day or night, fast or slow. Red and white are the traditional colors; however, other color combinations can be used in various sizes for many different species throughout the world, both fresh and saltwater. In freshwater, the Sea Ducer dressed in appropriate colors and sizes, works well for many speces such as largemouth bass, pickerel, pike, barramundi and trout.

It is a proven pattern for all types of game fish including stripers, blues, weakfish, drum, snook, redfish, tarpon, bass...and the list goes on.

Recipe Sea Ducer

Hook:  Mustad #3366 for freshwater in size 2 for bass and pickerel - Mustad #34007 for saltwater in whatever size you choose.

Thread:  Red or a color to match the fly.

Body:  A good foundation of tying thread and three to five saddle hackles palmered in close wraps. Use a red hackle in front of the body.

Tail  Two or three saddle hackles on each side, tyed splayed out, with two or three strands of Krystal Flash outside of the hackles. The hackles for the body should be about one and half times the hook gap. For the tail, they should be wide and about twice as long as the hook.

The original Red and White Hackle has inspired many other flies that are still in common use today. These include such flies as used for, tarpon, bonefish and many offshore patterns.

With the addition of bead chain eyes, Dan Blanton of California developed the Whistler series of flies for fishing deeper. They were called 'Whistlers,' because of the noise the bead chain eyes make whilst traveling through the air when casting.

Like any good recipe, one should learn the basics before tinkering and adjusting so as to eke out the particular idiosyncrasies that suit a particular fish species or fishing situation. ~ Alan & Richard

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