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
Tie shown is Ray Bergmans

This delicate looking fly, sometimes with the title "General" prefixing the name, with gray ruffed grouse wings, tan or light brown hackle and yellow body with a light green spiral wind, was name after General Joseph Hooker, 1814-79, of Civil War fame. He was a graduate of West Point in 1837. An equestrian statue stands in his honor on Beacon Hill, Boston.

The fly was the creation of the first professional woman fly-tier in this country, Sara J. McBride whose flies were in great demand in the 1870's and 80's. She was the daughter of John McBride who was an early fly tier of good repute. A resident of Munford in Monroe Country in New York State, she was awarded a medal and diploma at the Philadelphia Centennial for her flies "for exceedingly neat work with solidity of construction."

She was, as her writings of 1876 indicate, a student of, and an authority on, entomology. She tied "American fly and insect imitations" and recommended special patterns for certain streams.

In 1876 she went to England and Scotland and studied the English methods of tying. On her return in 1878 she moved to New York and set up her shop at 889 Broadway, but Soon closed and went back to Munford, where she continued until 1879.

She recommended the Hooker fly for use in June.

Ray Bergman gives the recipe for this fly as follows:

Body: Yellow floss.

Rib: Green silk.

Hackle: Brown.

Wing: Dark slate.

Credits: from Fly Patterns and Their Origins by Harold Hinsdill Smedley 1942. Photo from Forgotten Flies published by the Complete Sportsman.

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