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 Chippy

By Eric Austin

This week I bring you a fly developed right here in Columbus, Ohio. It was a local fly, used in the area in the 1800s to entice "black bass" in the warm water rivers that abound in Central Ohio. We know these fish as smallmouth today.

Hugh Hardy, a Columbus resident, made this fly known to us in a letter sent to Mary Orvis Marbury, included in her book Favorite Flies and Their Histories. He mentions several well-known flies for bass that worked well in the area, and then goes on to say:

"You will know all the flies I have mentioned except the Chippy, probably. This fly was gotten up by Colonel Park, of this city, and several fishermen helped him name it Chippy, because it looks so giddy. It has an orange-yellow body, with a narrow band of gold tinsel; black hackle at head, and white wings, covered partly by red wings. Its combination of color has proven a killing fly, especially for large trout in Northern waters."

We still have some great smallmouth fishing in Columbus to this day. Mr. Hardy mentions seven natural black bass streams in the area that provided good fishing 150 years ago, and that is the case today as well. Yes, the streams have been dammed, and reservoirs installed, and some of the fishing has changed from river fishing to lake fishing, but the smallmouth remain and thrive. As with multi-use waterways everywhere, things aren't as perfect as the fly fishermen would like them to be. We have problems with industrial pollution, farm runoff, and flows, as is the case everywhere. The Olentangy River in Delaware and Columbus is a perfect case in point. When it's right, the Olentangy is as beautiful a river as you've ever seen. Each summer however, in times of drought especially, the river goes down to a trickle as the dam is controlled to keep water levels up in the reservoir. High water levels in the reservoir makes the water skiers, swimmers, lake fishermen, and farmers happy, but makes the fly fishermen rather unhappy. I think though that we as fly fishers can't have everything the way we want it all of the time. The best any of us can hope for is a happy compromise in these situations, one that makes everyone a little happy, and leaves nobody out. It is called 'multiple use.'

Well, that's as political as I'll ever get in this column. I'm more interested in the flies and the fishing I guess. Here's the recipe for the Chippy:


    Tip: Gold tinnsel.

    Hook: Mustad 9672, or equivalent, size 4-6.

    Body: Yellow-orange floss.

    Rib: Thin gold tinsel.

    Wing: White under-wing, partically veiled by a red over wing.

Credits: Favorite Flies and Their Histories by Mary Orvis Marbury. ~ Eric Austin

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