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?


Matuka 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 another from the book:

"The Matuka-type streamer originated in New Zealand. It is used effectively there on big rainbow trout. It is a very difficult type of streamer to make, and it requires patient practice to tie a Matuka-type streamer so it looks like it should. Note the illustration carefully. There are two methods used in making Matuka streamers. Using the first method, you take two barred cussettes or wing covert feathers from the wing of a cock capercailzie, a bittern or any of the feathers previously mentioned for Matuka-type streamers. Some tyers use only one feather, but it is usually better to use two. Incidentally, the European bittern furnishes much poorer feathers for fly tying than the North American bittern. North American bitterns have soft, beautifully barred and mottled feathers. Now take the two feathers you have selected to make your Matuka streamer, (be sure they are both the same length and width) and lay them together with the inside of each feather facing to the inside. Cut off the downy fibers at the roots of each feather. Then cut the fibers from the bottom side of both feathers up to within about half way to the tip. Leave the tips of both feathers full and uncut. The tips of the feathers form the wide tail of the streamer, as the illustration shows. On the rear of the hook, tie on a piece of red wool yarn and a piece of tinsel for making the body of the streamer. If you do not tie these body materials on before you tie on the wing you will not be able to after the wing feathers are tied onto the hook shank. Now take the two wing feathers, (be sure you have wound tying thread over and around the entire length of the hook shank); hold them in place on the hook shank so that the tips form a tail, and start binding the feathers onto the hook shank, starting at the base of the tail. Work forward to the head of the streamer. This is a difficult job because you must wind the tying thread through the feather fibers. This breaks up the fibers but is perfectly all right, as they are supposed to be broken up. Put cement on the windings. Wind the red wool through the feathers and around the hook shank to form the body and tie it down securely. Then wind the tinsel spirally over the body, through the feathers, and tie it down. Using a bodkin, pick out the wool body at the front of the streamer to form a rough hackle. You now have a real Matuka type streamer, an unusually good fish getter. Some tyers take a few turns of hackle around the head of their Matuka streamers. This is a matter of personal choice. Some tyers also make their Matuka streamers with silver tinsel bodies, leaving out the wool. Some New Zealanders, in making Matuka streamers, use large badger and cock-y-bondhu neck hackles instead of bittern, or other wing feathers, to make the wings and tails on these streamers. When hackle feathers are used to make a Matuka-type streamer, two to four hackle feathers are placed together, trimmed and tied on in exactly the same manner as described previously for tying on the bittern or other wing feathers.

Hackle feather Matuka-type streamers are also very effective. It takes practice to make any kind of a Matuka streamer. Your practice and patience will, however, be rewarded, as they are unusually good fish producers.

Another method for making Matuka streamers is to tie in the body material and tinsel, also a piece of heavy tying thread to match the color of the body. Wind the body material and the tinsel to form the body in the usual manner. Then hold the feathers to be used for the wing and tail of the stream (trimmed, as before described) over the hook shank, and bind down the butts near the eye of the hook with the tying thread. With the piece of heavy tying thread left hanging at the base of the tail of the streamer, bind down the rear wings to the hook shank. This is all some tyers do. This leaves the center part of the wind not bound down to the hook shank. However, it is best to wind this heavy piece of tying thread spirally forward, after binding down the rear of the wings. Wind it around the body and through the wings to the head of the streamer with your regular tying thread." ~ DLB

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

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