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?


Lord Baltimore

By Eric Austin, Ohio


The Lord Baltimore was invented in the 1800s by Professor Mayer of the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. The fly was developed for the brook trout in Maine. Coincidentally, Dr. Henshall, creator of several famous flies of the period, invented a similar fly, the Oriole for black bass down south. Here's what Dr. Henshall says about these flies:

"Professor Mayer and I, being natives of Baltimore, and knowing that black and yellow [I think he means orange here] formed a good and taking combination in an artificial fly, each designed, unknown to the other, a fly to embody these colors; and as they are the heraldic colors of the State of Maryland, and were the heraldic colors of Lord Baltimore, Professor Mayer aptly named his trout fly Lord Baltimore, while I designated my black bass fly the Oriole, from the Baltimore oriole, or hanging-bird, which beautiful songster was named in honor of Lord Baltimore, as its colors were the same as his own, black and orange."

The Oriole, while originally having orange wings, soon became changed somehow, to a fly possessing canary yellow wings. This was not Dr. Henshall's doing, it just changed over time for whatever reason. Originally the Oriole and Lord Baltimore were reverse images of each other, with the Lord Baltimore having an orange body and black wings, and the Oriole having a black body and orange wings. The fact that the Oriole morphed into a fly with yellow wings ultimately explains Dr. Henshall's confusion early in the paragraph above.

The version I've presented here is more in the style of the one shown in Ray Bergman's Trout. I was tying some for a friend, and he wanted them in the Bergman vein. He's doing some experiments with Bergman wet flies of different color schemes, and I'm anxious to hear more about his work. But that will be another column. Here is the recipe for the Lord Baltimore:

The Lord Baltimore:

    Tail: Black.

    Ribbing: Black silk.

    Body: Orange Floss.

    Wing: Black with jungle cock.

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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