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?

The Katydid

Compiled by Deanna Birkholm and Eric Austin
Flies tied by Eric Austin

This fly represents the Grasshopper-like Katydid, and is one of a small number of wet flies that were actually tied to directly imitate something in nature. The origin of this fly is taken from Favorite Flies and Their Histories by Mary Orvis Marbury, and includes a delightful poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes:

"The Katydid is of the order Orthoptera; the imitation shown in the plate is one first made by C.F. Orvis some eight or nine years ago, receiving the name chiefly on account of the color, and as a reminder of "grasshopper time." Every one who listens to the summer chant of this companion of the fairies has a pleasant thought for the tiny green Katydid. Oliver Wendell Holmes has expressed this feeling, that is almost universal, in his own gentle, kindly way, in the following verses, which we venture to quote from his book of poems, because they were in our mind when we borrowed the pale green feathers from the parrot and bound them to a hook."

I love to hear thine earnest voice,
Wherever thou art hid,
Thou testy little dogmatist,
Thou pretty Katydid!
Thou mindest me of gentlefolks,-
Old gentlefolks are they,-
Thou say'st an undisputed thing
In such a solemn way.

"O tell me where did Katy live,

and what did Katy do?
And was she very fair and young,
And yet so wicked, too?

Pray tell me, sweetest Katydid,

What did poor Katy do?

"Ah no! the living oak shall crash,

That stood for ages still,
The rock shall rend its mossy base
And thunder down the hill,
Before the little Katydid
Shall add one word, to tell
The mystic story of the maid
Whose name she knows so well.

"Peace to the ever-murmuring race!

And when the latest one
Shall fold in death her feeble wings
Beneath the autumn sun,
Then shall she raise her fainting voice,
And lift her drooping lid,
And then the child of future years,

Shall hear what Katy did."

The Katydid Recipe:

    Hook:   Standard wet fly.

    Tip:   Gold tinsel.

    Tail:   Green dyed mallard or parrot.

    Body:   Green floss.

    Hackle:   Green.

    Wing:   Green parrot or dyed mallard quill.


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

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