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

Charles F. Orvis created this fly and Albert N. Cheney named it after Fred Mather, foremost angling authority of his time. Mr. Mather was born in New York State in 1833 and died in Wisconsin in 1900. He was a close associate and friend of Seth Green.

Shortly after the United States Fish Commission was formed, he became the assistant commissioner. He did considerable experimental work in the artifical hatching of graying at the Cold spring Harbor Hatchery, where he develiped and patented the "Mather Hatching Cone."

He was the American representative to the Internation Fisheries Exhibition in Berlin, Germany, in 1880. From 1883 to 1895 he was a Commissioner of the State of New York Fish Commission. He was for a long time fishing editor of Forest and Stream. Many of his articles appeared in the American Angler.

It was Mr. Mather who prepared the rules for the fly-casting tournament that was held at Brighton Beach, Coney Island, in June of 1881, at which tournament the Nation Rod & Reel Association was formed. Mr. Mather also acted as the judge in that contect. He was secretary of the National Rod & Reel Association from 1882 to 1886.

Two of his books that should be in every angling library are Men I Have Fished With and My Angling Friends. He also wrote Modern Fish Culture in Fresh and Salt Water, 1905.

The fly, as tied by Mr. Orvis, was described as having a dark greenish black herl body, with a green silk wound mid-section, large gray wings and gray hackle; red and gold tag; and a long waving, green tail.

The dressing given in Forgotten Flies is:

    Tag: Gold tinsel and scarlet floss.

    Tail: Peacock sword.

    Body: Black ostrich herl, pale green floss, black ostrich herl.

    Wing: Gray goose breast.

    Hackle: Gray.

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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