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?


Old Indian Type of Bone Streamer

Compiled by Deanna Birkholm


My sincere thanks to "Old Rupe" who sent a wonderful old book to me for use especially in this section. The book is Professional Fly Tying, Spinning and Tackel Making Manual and Manufacturers Guide written and illustrated by George Leonard Herter. (Special Revised Fourteenth Edition, 1961.)

For those not familiar with George Herter or the Herter Company, you missed one of the most prolific and interesting writers ever. The Herters Catalogs were a work of art and imagination.

The following is from the book:

"These bone streamers are probably among the oldest types of fishing lures used on this continent. Indians in many parts of North America were familiar with them, and the first white settlers picked this knowledge from the Indians. Huge quantities of trout, bass, walleyed pike and northern pike have been taken on them and they are still effective at times. These bone streamers were also used a great deal on salt water fish with excellent results. They still are one of the deadliest of lures for blues and are also excellent for striped bass, tuna, bonito and dolphins.

In North Carolina, these bone streamers are especially well known today and are called "The Turkey Bone."

A bone streamer is made as follows. Take a bone from the leg or wing of such birds as a turkey, hawk, owl or grouse, and remove all traces of meat. Poke out the marrow as much as possible. The bone then is allowed to bleach for a short time in the sun until it is thoroughly dry. The bone can be aywhere from 2/16 to 3/8 of an inch in diameter, depending on the size fish you are after. Cut off the length of bone from 3/4 of an inch to as long as 2 1/2 inches, depending on the size of fish you are after. Slip the piece of bone onto a long shanked hook, and your lure is made.

When such a streamer is drawn through the water, a fan-like bunch of bubbles continually leaves the end of the bone. Although these bone streamers are effective just as they are, a few small hackle feathers or a little hair tied onto the outside of the bone increases their effictiveness. Occasionally a piece of bone will not bubble in such a case throw it away and try another piece."
I can't help but wonder if the effect of using a tube fly produces the same bubble pattern. ~ DLB

Credits: Text and drawing from Professional Fly Tying, Spinning and Tackel Making Manual and Manufacturers Guide written and illustrated by George Leonard Herter.

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