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?

A Piscatorial Man 'O' War from across the pond

By Steve Sheppard, UK

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 body search.

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 trout supper?

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.

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. ~ Steve

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