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?

Bonbright Streamer

Compiled by Deanna Birkholm

This is an interesting concept. A fly for landlocked salmon revised for Tarpon. We have no way of knowing what the train of thought was, but did Mr. Bonbright have some reason to think the fly might match any of the baitfish the tarpon eat? Or was the assumption that a fly which was successful for salmon should work for these saltwater fish?

Quoting Streamer Fly Tying & Fishing by Joseph D. Bates, Jr, "This fly is a development of the Colonel White. The augmented pattern was dressed about 1925 on the instructions of Mr. G.D.B. Bonbright, president of the Seaboard Airline Railway, to Mr. Steward Slosson, a fly dresser for Abercrombie and Fitch Company, of New York City. Mr. Bonbright used the fly for tarpon fishing in Florida and made it famous due to the large numbers of tarpon and other salt water fish taken with it. He preferred 4/0 hooks for tarpon and insisted that the heads of the flies be soaked in duPont cement and then black lacquered.

The Bonbright streamer, which had its genesis as one of Maine's earliest landlocked salmon flies, was readapted to Maine fishing by Mr. L. Dana Chapman, a tackle dealer of Boston, who gave the Percy Tackle Company an order for some of these flies dressed for fresh water fishing. Mr. Percy renamed it the Dana. It also has been called the Ross McKenney.."

Recipe Bonbright Streamer

    Head: Black.

    Tail: Two very narrow and rather long sections of a red and a white duck wing feather, the red and the white of each section being married together. The colors of each of the two sections are reversed. A very short golden pheasant crest feather is added. The two married sections and the golden pheasant crest feather are of the same length and all curve upward.

    Body: Of medium flat silver tinsel, built up slightly toward the head. (The fresh water version is thin and not built up.)

    Ribbing: Fine oval silver tinsel.

    Throat: A small bunch of white hackle fibers of medium length.

    Wing: Four white neck hackles, rather long.

    Horns: Each a single fiber from a blue mackaw (ibid) tail feather, two-thirds as long as the wing.

    Shoulders: Each a golden pheasant crest feather nearly as long as the wing. Outside of this is a red duck breast feather with a solid edge, one-fourth as long as the wing. The red shoulders are dress high so as not to conceal the body and throat but to conceal the front of the wing. The throat joins the underside of the red shoulder on both sides.

    Checks: Jungle cock, set in the center of the red shoulders. (As dressed for the originator.)

Credits: Text and recipe from Streamer Fly Tying & Fishing by Joseph D. Bates, Jr., published by Stackpole. Photo from Forgotton Flies, published by Complete Sportsman. We appreciate use permission. ~ DLB

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