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 Babcock

By Eric Austin

The Babcock has had several incarnations, the first having no tail whatsoever. All subsequent versions had tails, and I've done one of each, the Bergman fly and the tailless original, (shown above).

The original fly was named after W.J. and Charles H. Babcock, of Rochester, New York. W.J. was one of the organizers of the National Sportsmen's Association in 1874. Charles H. served as Fish Commissioner of New York state from 1885 to 1902.

The first fly had wings of white duck quill with a narrow strip of black along the top. The body of this fly has remained constant, and is red floss with a gold tinsel rib. The newer version of the fly, shown in both the Bergman and J.Edson Leonard books, is a vision of yellow and black, with both wings and tail featuring married strands of yellow and black quills.

Terry Hellekson, in his book Fish Flies, has yet another version, sort of a hair-wing version of the Bergman fly. It seems more Western to me, and I will call it the Western version until corrected. Here are all the recipes for the Babcock:

The Original Babcock

    Rib: Gold tinsel.

    Body: Red floss.

    Hackle: Black.

    Wing: White mallard quill with narrow strip along the top.

Ray Bergman's Babcock

    Tip: Gold tinsel.

    Rib: Gold tinsel.

    Body: Red floss.

    Hackle: Black.

    Wing: Yellow with black stripe.

Western Babcock (Hellekson)

    Hooks: MUSR70, TMC3769, or DIA1550, sizes 8-14

    Thread: Black.

    Tail: Scarlet red hackle barbs.

    Ribbing: Flat gold tinsel.

    Body: Red floss.

    Hackle: Black tied on as a collar and tied back and down.

    Wing: Yellow calf tail tied over the body.

    Topping: Three peacock sword feather barbs.

Credits: Fish Flies by Terry Hellekson; Trout by Ray Bergman; Flies by J. Edson Leonard. ~ EA

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