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 Captain


By Eric Austin
Fly tied by Andy Brasko (AndyB)

This week's fly is tied by my friend Andy Brasko, (AndyB). Andy is a protégé of Don Bastian, and has studied extensively with him. We became friends in large part due to our mutual admiration of Don's work. I began my portion of "Just Old Flies" with the idea of trying to present flies as Don had in Forgotten Flies. This, of course, is easier said than done, but we keep plugging away. Andy's fly this week is "The Captain," and one of which he is rightfully proud. I think it's near perfection. Andy not only ties these flies in the larger sizes, 6 and 8, but he fishes them as well, and very successfully. Nobody is as great a promoter and devote of the classic wet fly as is Andy Brasko. I hope that we'll see a great deal of Andy's work here in the coming months.

Andy asked me to come up with a bit of history on The Captain, but I was unable to help. Ladyfisher came to the rescue, and we know this much, from the book Fly Patterns and Their Origins:

"As is true with many flies which have more or less commonplace names, there are duplications in the name and variations in the pattern. Much confusion results when a fly known in one locality bears the same name as a fly in some other locality. Sometimes there is a resemblance, oftentimes there is none.

As to the Captain, there are three distinct patterns of the same name. One, which is described by Ray Bergman in his book Trout can be accepted as a more or less Eastern pattern. Another is found in the North Central States around Michigan and Wisconsin. Still another appears in the West and is popular in some places in Utah, Idaho and California."

The three patterns are as follows:

    East (Bergman)

    Body - White.

    Tail - Scarlet & yellow.

    Wing - Slate.

    Hackle - Brown.

    Tag - Peacock.


    Body - White.

    Tail - Mallard & yellow.

    Wing - Mallard Brown.

    Tag - Peacock.


    Body - Black (thin).

    Tail - Golden pheasant.

    Wing - White.

    Hackle - Brown.

The Western pattern is the Captain which Charles McDermand, of San Francisco, found so successful and praises so highly in his delightful book Waters of the Golden Trout Country.

I might add that there is also a Captain full dress salmon fly, by Kelson, which has absolutely nothing at all to do with the flies detailed above. The Captain Kelson talks about has a body of orange, red-claret, and dark blue Seal's fur. ~ Eric Austin

Credits: Fly Patterns and their Origins by Harold Hinsdill Smedley; Trout by Ray Bergman.

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