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?


Colonel's Lady

Compiled by Eric Austin
Fly tied by Eric Austin


While this fly is not truly a "historic" fly of the Victorian age, it certainly has all those aspects, and has some history of its own as well. The Colonel's Lady was conceived by Ron Alcott, the legendary tier of salmon flies from Groton, Massachusetts. It was tied for the wife of Joe Bates, the Colonel in this story, to prove a point. Joe Bates was the author of "The Art of the Atlantic Salmon Fly" and a great salmon fly historian. He felt that modern day tiers should not design Atlantic salmon patterns, because there were already so many patterns. Knowing that Helen, Joe's wife, loved the Lady Amherst pheasant feathers of the Lady Amherst pattern, Ron Alcott set out to design a fly that he knew she'd like. He presented it to her, and named it "The Colonel's Lady" in honor of her. She had been referred to in that way when Col. Joe Bates was on active duty in the army. Joe Bates was quite taken with the fly as well, and Ron's point was proven. It's such a tasteful and elegant design, and one that certainly fits beautifully in the tradition of the full dress Atlantic salmon fly.

Recipe The Colonel's Lady:

    Tag: Fine oval gold tinsel.

    Tail: Golden pheasant crest and barred wood duck.

    Butt: Black ostrich herl.

    Body: Claret silk floss.

    Rib: Flat gold tinsel and fine gold lace.

    Hackle: Claret.

    Throat: Kenya crested guinea fowl (natural guinea used here as a sub).

    Wings: Lady Amherst pheasant tippets.

    Sides: Jungle Cock.

    Cheeks: Blue Chatterer.

    Topping: Golden pheasant crest.

    Horns: Lady Amherst center tail.

    Head: Black.

~ EA

Credits: Text from Favorite Flies and Their Histories by Mary Orvis Marbury. Fly and photo by Eric Austin.

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