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
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?
A Piscatorial Man 'O' War from across the pond
By Steve Sheppard, UK
Archive of Old Flies
As you know from my last article poaching in 18th
centuries England had been successful due in some
part to the Belly Pirn but as goes the way of some
good things the authorities got wise to it so it
became less effective and left even the most innocent
under suspicion and liable to a thorough humiliating
The squire's keepers in an effort to reduce the offence
brought many more horrific mantraps into use. The snare
gun a huge calibre weapon fastened to a stout pole loaded
with chain and nail shot the trigger attached to a trip
wire was capable at worst of blowing a hole through you,
at best tearing off a limb, would you risk that for a
No, something had to be done, it is said the Man'O'War
originated in Scotland, in England it was more commonly
known as the Kill Devil.
The Kill Devil, a large wooden drum with line wound round
it loosely secured in a notch on its rim the baited hook
suspended beneath as it floated along with the stream.
When the fish took the bait the line slipped from the
notch unwound from the drum, when the line ran out the
fish hooked itself against the devil, no matter how deep
the fish swam the devil was on his back as he tired the
devil rose to the surface and the fisherman hooked him out.
So now the poacher had another devilishly cunning tool
he could use no more walking through forest and undergrowth
with all its hidden dangers.
By using a small light shallow draft rowing boat he could
enter the watercourse miles away from his intended fishing
spot then work his way safely through remote tributaries
and streams inaccessible by foot to his poaching grounds.
Once there under cover of darkness he could launch a
flotilla of kill devils and then wait for the sport to
begin by keeping low in the boat the keeper and henchmen
would be hard put to see him from the bank with only oil
lamps for illumination.
He on the other hand would see the lights and know exactly
where they were, should they launch a boat the poacher
could loose himself in the reeds and wait until they
had gone past before returning to harvest his devils.
I bet you are wondering whether I am a poacher knowing
all these stories!
All I am prepared to say is I have fished some strange
waters with some even stranger companions but when I get
home safe and sound I like a stiff drink and my aromatic
candle burning Kill Devils a devilishly good way to relax
whilst contemplating my last trip, looking forward to my next.
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