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 and Eric Austin
Flies tied by Eric Austin

Dr. Henshall writes in his book entitled More about Black Bass:

"Each angler will soon adopt a few flies for his own fishing none of which I may have mentioned, but he will nevertheless continue to use them, and swear by them on all occasions: and this is one of the glorious privileges of the art of angling.

As a father naturally thinks his own children the best, smartest, and handsomest, I may be pardoned for placing in my list, and strongly recommending as general flies, my Polka, Oriole, Oconomowoc, and Henshall, leaving to others the praise or condemnation due them."

Dr. Henshall created the Polka in 1870, and it has been most popular ever since its appearance.

In his forward to a later addition of the book Trout by Ray Bergman, Gary LaFontaine has this to say about the light version of this fly:

"A few years ago I was fishing the Firehole River in Yellowstone Park, and there was a group of very sophisticated anglers with the latest equipment and newest fly patterns trying to catch fish. They weren't doing too well. I put on the Light Polka, a wet fly with a white chenile body and fancy guinea wing, and cast against the grass bank. I mended the line, letting the fly drift with the current. Bam! A brown trout hit it. I knew the Light Polka would work. Brown trout can't leave a white fly alone, I learned that from reading Trout."

The Polka bass fly:

    Hook:   Large sproat bend.

    Tip:   Gold tinsel.

    Tail:   Brown over white quill.

    Body:   Scarlet floss.

    Hackle:   Scarlet.

    Wing:   Guinea.

The Light Polka wet fly:

    Hook:   Standard wet fly.

    Body:   White chenille.

    Hackle:   White.

    Wing:   Guinea.
    ~ DLB

Credits: Text from Favorite Flies and Their Histories by Mary Orvis Marbury and Trout by Ray Bergman. Flies tied by Eric Austin. Color photos by James Birkholm.

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