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?

Fledermaus, Act 2

Compiled by John W Colburn, Washington, DC

When I read your "Just Old Flies and Stuff" of the Fledermouse in FAOL, I knew I'd read Schneider's instructions; so I'd read them somewhere. So instead of doing other important things, I dug through my library, ignoring books less than 25 years old, and found them. I thought they might be of interest to other history nuts. ~ John W Colburn

Jack Schneider's Tying Instructions for the Fledermouse

A classic example of the fur-bodied fly, and one that is most effective on big trout, is the Fledermouse. This pattern is literally tied with clumps of muskrat fur using both the underfur and guard hairs, and the result is a tufted, mousy-looking fly with a sparse gray squirrel wing. The late Jack B. Schneider of San Jose, California, originated this pattern in 1949, and since that time we've put the Fledermouse to many a test; in my own experience, the fly scored a good 40 per cent when used under appropriate conditions. Here's what Jack had to report:

The Fledermouse is mainly a late evening and night fly. It is at its best from the time the bats put in their first appearance over the water and on into the night. That is how it received the name "Fledermouse." The pattern was conceived one rainy morning in August at Wade Lake, Montana. In its first season it was used over a period of six weeks for about three hours every evening. It proved to be a knockout.

[Two paragraphs omitted.]

Now for the tying of the Fledermouse. I doubt if there is a more simple pattern to make. Try hook sizes one, two, or three, standard length and wire. I have even used No. 4 in 4X long shank, which really makes a mouthful. Secure your thread to the hook shank at the start of the bend. There is no tail so that eliminates all chance of fouling up that part of the fly. The body is muskrat fur, under hair and guard hairs combined. It is the guard hairs sticking out from the body that give it that tufted appearance. Don't pull them out.

It takes about three clumps of hair to make a body. To define a clump of hair? It's roughly the amount you can get hold of between thumb and index finger. Next, cut three clumps of muskrat fur off the piece of skin and lay them on your tying table, or on your leg, as I prefer to do it.

The fly is now as good as tied. Take hold of the tying silk you have already secured to the hook; lay the left index finger across the silk about four inches from the hook; then carry the silk around and over the finger back to the bend of the hook, and spiral the silk forward to within one-eighth inch of the eye of the hook. Make half hitch. You now have a four inch loop of tying silk attached to the hook just at the bend where you would tie on the tail if the pattern called for one. Your left index finger is still in the loop, holding it taut. Pick up the first clump of hair, holding it by the butts, and center it in the open end of the loop, then slide it down through the loop to the shank of the hook.

Take the second clump, insert in loop as before and slide down to within half an inch of the first clump. Now space the third and last clump of hair half an inch from the second clump. Now, with the thumb and forefinger of the right hand, take hold of the open end of the loop bringing the two strands of silk together. With the left hand attach hackle pliers to loose end of loop.

Keeping the loop taut, spread the hair evenly for about two inches between the strands of silk. Revolve the hackle pliers until you twist what resembles a rough, furry strand of chenille about two inches long. Wrap this around the shank of the hook almost to the eye, and tie it off. Tie on a grey squirrel tail wing, and you have a Fledermouse. Tying time approximately two to three minutes.

Credits: From A.J. McClane, The Practical Fly Fisherman 1975, 1953; Prentice Hall, Inc.; Englewood Cliffs, NJ;pp 208-210

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