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 Gogebic

The Gogebic
By Eric Austin, Ohio

My friend Reed Curry from New Hampshire recently made me aware of an e-book entitled Salmon and Trout which according to Reed had a "plethora" of old patterns contained within. That's a "whole bunch" to you and me. I checked it out, and sure enough, plethora there was. This pattern I've tied today is one of the bunch, and is a fly I'd never heard of.

I've done a little research, and did find the same fly listed in Flies by J. Edson Leonard. Surprisingly, though Salmon and Trout was written in 1902, making this fly something of a contemporary of Mary Orvis Marbury, I could find no reference to it in Favorite Flies and Their Histories, not even in the Michigan section. The reason I mention Michigan here is that I'm quite sure that this fly was used to fish for bass on Lake Gogebic, which is located in Gogebic County, on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This is quite a recreation area, with fantastic lake fishing, featuring walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike, jumbo perch and whitefish. Each year the Lake Gogebic Area Chamber of Commerce hosts a tagged fish contest with thousands of dollars in prizes. They are somewhat serious about their fishing in the U.P.

Salmon and Trout has some very nice tying instructions in chapter ten, which give considerable insight into how these flies were tied back in the days of gut "snoods" or leaders. There is an interesting bit on a reverse method of doing wings as well. The wing material is tied on pointing out over the eye of the hook in the very beginning of tying the fly, and then reversed at the finish. I'm not sure of the benefit here, but will try it with some mallard wings one of these days and let you know. They do a Light Montreal as an example. If you're interested in the old ways, you can check out chapter ten at http://efishingbooks.com/Sage/ChapterX.php.

So there you have the Gogebic. There are a couple of renditions of this fly, one with palmered hackle and one without. Here are the recipes:

From Salmon and Trout


    Tag: Scarlet silk floss
    Tail: Scarlet ibis and white
    Butt: Black ostrich herl
    Body: Yellow, ribbed with fine gold twist
    Legs: Scarlet hackle wound from butt to shoulder
    Wings: White matched feathers with small ibis on each side

    From Flies

    Wing: White, scarlet strips
    Hackle: Scarlet.
    Body: Yellow floss, scarlet floss tag, gold tip.
    Tail: Scarlet and white.

Credits: Salmon and Trout by Dean Sage, C.H. Townsend, H.M. Smith and William C. Harris; Flies by J. Edson Leonard; by J. Edson Leonard; eFishingBooks.com at http://efishingbooks.com/Sage/ChapterX.php ~ EA

About Eric:

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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