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?


Compiled by Deanna Birkholm

After European settlers moved into the Kamloops [BC, Canada] area, they discovered that many of the surrounding lakes were devoid of fish, yet many were blessed with prolific aquatic life just waiting for some ingenious soul to stock them with trout. Knouff Lake was one such lake which was stocked with nine ripe trout in May 1917 by local residents, Len Phillips and son.

For three years the fish were left to gorge themselves on the abundant aquatic life and when it was opened for fishing in May, 1920, some monsters in the 15 to 20-pound range were caught. Word of the large fish catches like those experienced at Knouff is difficult to keep secret and Knouff Lake became the destination of many fly fishers. The Pazooka was one of the flies that was developed for the Knouff Lake fishery.

A. Bryan Williams in his Fish & Game in British Columbia (1935) says that Knouff "is one of the most beautiful of the interior lakes, and also one of the best for fishing" (page 107). Williams mentioned that accommodation was available at the farmhouse located at the head of the lake and according to Brayshaw's diary it was the Phillips' who rented rooms in their home at the head of Knouff Lake.

What year the Pazooka was actually invented I have not been able to determine, however, Tom Brayshaw recorded in his diary on Saturday June 11, 1932, that the "Phillips had fun with the 'Pazooka' but lost a big percentage after hooking but it is very deadly in a breeze." The next day Brayshaw says that "Mrs. P[hillips] lost a big one (10 pounds or more) on Pazooka."

On June 16, 1933, when he arrived at Knouff for a weekend of fishing, Brayshaw learned that prospects didn't look promising, as Eldris, Slee and another "all had a blank day." For the master fly fisher, however, things differently and he "got a four pounder. . .from the sunk island nearest shore, and an hour later one of 7 1/4 pounds from the same island - both on 'Pazooka'." About fishing the Pazooka, Brayshaw compared it to the same technique that Colonel Carey used with the Carey Special and says:

At any rate we did the same thing at Knouff with the "pazooka" and fished it the same way. Throw it out, lay the rod down, fill a pipe, light same, half smoke it and then wallop! You had him!"

Because the Phillips' introduced fish to the lake and developed the fishery and with their first recorded use of the fly, I have credited them with the Pazooka's development. However, I have no direct evidence to support that assumption and others may prove me wrong.

Over the years the Pazooka somehow lost its unique name. Patrick in an early 1960s printing of Pacific Northwest Fly Patterns gave two variations of a fly designed specifically for this lake: Knouff Lake or Knouff Special. Incidentally, earlier editions of Patrick's book didn't list the Knouff Lake patterns. According to Steve Raymond in Kamloops (1980), the Knouff Special was intended to be an emerging sedge pupa imititation. Indeed, it is highly impressionistic and, like many flies of that nature, fishers must use their imagination and have faith.


    Hook: Number 6 or 8.

    Tail: A few fibres from a golden pheasant's tippet feather.

    Body: Green wool.

    Rib: Orange floss.

    Collar: A ring-necked pheasant rump feather.

    Wing: A few fibres from a golden pheasant's tippet feather.

    Originator: Len Phillips.

    Intended Use: Wet fly for rainbow trout.

    Location: Knouff Lake [Kamloops region, British Columbia, Canada].

Credits: Text and Photo from Fly Patterns of British Columbia by Arthur James Lingren, Published by Frank Amato Publications. We appreciate use permission.

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