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 today's 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?

Pretty In Pink

Gray Coflin
By Eric Austin, Ohio

I don't like to generalize but I think as a group most male fly fishermen have a little bit of trouble with the idea of a pink fly. I know I did when I was a teen in the Adirondacks in the '60s. Back then we didn't have fly shops, we had bait shops, hardware stores, and gas stations. Two flies that one would invariably see at Montgomery Wards or the gas station/grocery store in Morrisonville by the Saranac River were the Parmachene Belle and the Pink Lady. Thinking back on it now, I would imagine these flies had been sitting there for years, holdovers from the halcyon days of the brook trout. There was still considerable brook trout fishing left back then too, and maybe that accounts for the stocking of these. The Pink Lady was well known as a dry fly too, as well as the Pink Bivisible. That said, there was always this feeling in the back of your mind that you were fishing a girlie fly, and there was no small amount of shame in doing so. It was for that reason more than any other that I quickly abandoned the Pink Lady when it didn't produce for me the first couple of times, never to return to it again.

Pink Lady

If only I had known then what I know now. As it turns out, these pink bodied flies were probably stocked because they were so effective. Anyone who's fished a pink quill-bodied parachute for PMDs out West knows how successful they are, and there is a whole stream of thought afoot today concerning Ultra Violet vision where fish are concerned, with fluorescent pinks, chartreuse and other colors exhibiting UV highlights. Czech nymphs are being tied with pink "hot spots" now, and the pinkish "Tups" dubbing is making a comeback in the Catskills. So I will add my failure to fish pink flies as a youth to my list of reasons why I went fishless so much of the time back then. It's a very long list.

Lest I forget, there is one more pink fly which must be mentioned here. My friend Fred Bridge from Pennsylvania has done a variation on the San Juan Worm that he calls the "Infamous Pink Worm" that is one of those flies that is so effective it should be considered bait and banned. I have been known to resort to it a time or two on our Mad River here in Ohio when absolutely nothing was doing. It saved me from an otherwise fishless day more than once. You can see Fred's fly and tying instructions here at:

Pink flies go way back, and here's a version of the old Wickham's Fancy called the Pink Wickhams:

Pink Wickhams

And finally, here are three more I've dug up, the Post, Perry, and Proctor flies, all pretty in pink. I'll list all the recipes below.




Gray Coflin:

    Tip: Yellow floss

    Tail: Gray fibers (hackle)

    Body: Pink floss

    Hackle: Yellow

    Wing: Dark gray

Pink Lady "Winged" (dry or wet):

    Tip: Gold tinsel

    Tail: Ginger hackle

    Ribbing: Gold tinsel

    Body: Pink floss

    Hackle: Ginger

    Wing: Slate

Pink Wickhams:

    Tip: Gold tinsel

    Tail: Light brown hackle

    Body: Pink floss

    Hackle: Light brown tied palmer

    Wing: Dark slate


    Tip: Gold tinsel

    Tail: Scarlet

    Ribbing: Gold tinsel

    Body: Pink floss

    Hackle: Black hen tied palmer

    Wing: Dark turkey


    Tip: Silver tinsel

    Butt: Pink chenille

    Body: Black chenille

    Hackle: Black

    Wing: Black, white tipped


    Tip: Olive-brown chenille

    Body: Pale pink chenille

    Hackle: Brown

    Wing: Mallard

Credits: Trout by Ray Bergman; Flies by J. Edson Leonard ~ EA

About Eric:

Eric Eric lives in Delaware, Ohio and fishes for brown trout in the Mad River, a beautiful spring creek. More of his flies are on display here: Traditionalflies.com -- Classic salmon and trout flies of Europe and the Americas.

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