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 F. G. Simpson

By Eric Austin, Ohio

The F. G. Simpson is another lake fly from Mary Orvis Marbury's book Favorite Flies and Their Histories. Its origin appears to have been Canadian, and I can imagine large brook trout going crazy for this flashy fly with its bright red and yellow color scheme. Here's what Mary Orvis Marbury has to say about the fly's origins:

"This fly has been found especially effective for fishing in Winnipeg. Mr. F. G. Simpson was the first to introduce it to us, and recommend it to other anglers; we therefore identify it by his name. "
The fly is similar in many ways to the more popular Professor and Parmacheene Belle, flies which elsewhere in the Canadian section of the book were regularly recommended. The F. G. Simpson however was not mentioned by any of the Canadian fly fishermen with whom Mary Orvis Marbury corresponded, leading one to think that the fly might have been known to them by another name. It certainly has all the appearances of being a very effective lake fly, but has disappeared from the scene, along with many of the brook trout for which it was undoubtedly designed. Here is the recipe:

The F. G. Simpson

    Tip: Gold tinsel.

    Tail: Red and yellow mallard quill.

    Ribbing: Gold tinsel.

    Body: Yellow floss.

    Wing: Red mallard quill.

    Hackle: Red and yellow.

Credits: Favorite Flies and Their Histories by Mary Orvis Marbury; Flies by J. Edson Leonard. ~ EA

About Eric:

I started fly fishing as a teen in and around my hometown of Plattsburgh, New York, primarily on the Saranac River. I started tying flies almost immediately and spent hours with library books written by Ray Bergman, Art Lee, and A. J. McClane. Almost from the beginning I liked tying just as much as I liked fishing and spent considerable time at the vise creating hideous monstrosities that somehow caught fish anyway. Then one day I came upon a group of flies that had been put out at a local drug store that had been tied by Francis Betters of Wilmington, N.Y. My life changed that day and so did my flies, dramatically. Even though I never met Fran back then, I've always considered him to be one of my biggest influences.

I had a career in music for twenty years or so and didn't fish much, though I did fish at times. The band I was with had its fifteen seconds of fame when we were asked to be in John Mellencamp's movie "Falling From Grace." I am the keyboard player on the right in the country club scene in the middle of the movie. Don't blink. It's on HBO all the time. We got to meet big Hollywood stars and record in John's studio. It was a blast.

So how did I wind up contributing to the Just Old Flies column on FAOL? I'm not sure, it was something that I simply wanted very badly to do, and they let me. Many of the old flies take me back to the Adirondacs and my youth, and I guess I get to relive some of it through the column. I've spent many happy hours fishing and tying over the years, and tying these flies brings back memories of great days on the water, and intense hours spent looking at the flies in the fly plates in the old books and trying to get my flies to look like them. And now, here I am, still doing that to this day. ~ EA

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