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
Ray Bergman Tier

This fly, dating about 1866, was first tied by Charles Orvis to specifications furnished him by L.M. Morrison, 1830-1898, of Lock Haven, Pennsylvania.

Mr. Morrison was a civil engineer engaged in railroad work. He participated in the construction of numerous railroads in Pennsylvania, Vermont and New York State. His work took him into many remote parts, where trout fishing was available and he took advantage of the opportunities offered.

He was often referred to as Colonel Morrison, which was a courtesy title, given him because of his courteous, gentlemanly and companionable character.

The Morrison is a dark fly. Except for a claret wool body, the ribbing, tail, hackle and wings were all black.

Serious consideration to dark flies should be given in cold early spring weather and in far northern waters. Few flies are found at such times or in such waters that are not dark. Hewitt Wheatly pointed out in his Rod & Line, 1849, that dark colors attract warmth in a greater degree than light colors. Thus dark flies might live by attracting more light and heat in an atmosphere which might destroy paler kinds. Many such flies are called black whereas they are dark claret. The dark Montreal is just such a fly.

Ray Bergman gives the recipe for this fly as follows:

    Tail: Black.

    Body: Claret wool.

    Rib: Black silk.

    Hackle: Black.

    Wing: Black.

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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