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 February Red

By Eric Austin

The nice thing about doing "Just Old Flies" articles is that every now and again you hear from a reader, and that's just how this article came to be. Jere Haas contacted me out of the blue, and has made me aware of an old Pennsylvania pattern called the February Red. Jere tells me he does quite well with this fly on the Bushkill in Easton, Pa., and to me, it's just one of those patterns that looks "fishy."

I can tell that Jere is my kind of fisherman, and obviously very experienced. The proof is in the following sentence, which followed his telling me of a spot not fished by many anymore, in a condition of very low water, where: "I stumbled across a monster feeding in about a foot of water. I'm guessing he's between 24" to 26". I'm reluctant to catch him for fear of stressing a fish that large and chance doing him harm. Geez, listen to me - like I've got him hooked already. At least I know he's there. " Someone without his knowledge and respect for his quarry could have really harmed this fish. Someone who hadn't ever caught a big fish before might have been too tempted. There is a time to leave the fish for later, and Jere understands that better than most.

The effectiveness of this fly is predicated on the floss. Jere Haas was shown this fly by his grandfather, and the color of the silk floss with which it's tied he called "Terre-cotta." It was produced in the '30s, and is the secret of the fly. Jere was kind enough to send me a considerable amount of this treasure, and I plan to make good use of it. Jere describes it as a dusty rose color, and that's as good a description as any. This floss changes color in the water, and that's part of the secret. There is apparently no more of this floss in existence, at least none of which we are aware.

Jere says this about the hook he likes to use on the fly: "The Feb Red was originally tied on a Mustad 7948A, size 14. It was a short shank, flat forged TDE hook that I don't even think is made anymore. It seemed to work well in 12, 14, &16 - Wet, nymph and dry - just use a lighter ribbing for the dries. The nymph is really a neat fly too. It is tied on a 1 xl hook, like a 3906B, and uses black ostrich herl over the back and crow wing tied in a humped fashion like an emerger with a black hackle. I use them when the Isonyichias are active."

I tied mine on a plain old wet fly hook. If you'd like to see Jere's tie, it can be found on Ed Gallop's site. I'm going to take mine and see what I can do with it here in Ohio. The sign outside my door reads "Gone Fishing."

Recipe for the February Red:

    Hook: Mustad 7948A size 14.

    Thread: Danville pre-waxed black monocord.

    Tail: Lemon wood duck (sparse).

    Body: Circa 1930 terra cotta silk floss. This floss is dusty-rose color when dry but turns the color of raw beef liver when wet.

    Rib: Fine oval gold tinsel.

    Hackle: Barred rock hen with as defined a barring as you can get. ~ Eric Austin

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