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?


Prime Gnat



Compiled by Deanna Birkholm


This fly, with black body, wing, hackle and tail, and red butt, was the creation of William Cowper Prime, 1825-1905, author of I Go A Fishing, 1873.

A graduate of Princeton, 1843, he engaged in law practice in New York, 1846-61. He was editor of the Journal of Commerce, 1861-69. He served as vice-president of the Metropolitian Museum of Art after 1874. In 1884 he was professor of history and art at Princeton. It was Mr. Prime who said, "The angler, I think, dreams of his favorite sport oftener than other men of theirs."

Please note, the dressing shown in the photo does not match the dressing given above. The dressing given in Forgotten Flies is:

    Tag: Orange floss or wool.

    Tail: Black.

    Body: Black ostrich herl.

    Hackle: Black.

    Wing: Black.

    Tied by Ray Bergman

Credits: Text from Fly Patterns and Their Origins, By Harold Hinsdill Smedley. Color photo and second recipe from Forgotten Flies published by Complete Sportsman.

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