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?


By Eric Austin, Ohio

I should begin by correcting a small error in last week's article. I maintained that Mooselookmeguntic and Cupsuptic lakes in Maine retained their original Abenaki Indian names, and that is very close to being the case. However, as I've since discovered, Mooselookmeguntic, as it's known today, was originally called Mooselucmaguntic, as late as 1886. When or why the name changed I'm not sure. Further research is required, because this is something I must now know.

So the fly is called Mooselucmaguntic, Abenaki for "Where hunters watch the moose by night", but the lake today is called Mooselookmeguntic. It is the largest lake in the Rangeley region of Maine. The famous "upper dam", where Carrie Stevens caught her record brook trout and sold her flies, holds back the lake, and Haines Landing on the lake was a main stopping-off point in the late 1800s for sportsmen from all over the East arriving by steamer, in search of huge brook trout. The Mooselookmegutic House, a 40 room hotel, overlooked the landing, and eventually the Upper Dam House was built, an even larger hotel with 60 rooms and cabins.

The fly is another one credited to John Shields, who takes credit for many of the wet flies from the Rangeley region. I found this one to be somewhat difficult to dress, but maybe it was just me. I had trouble getting the underwing "full" enough to support the overwing of turkey. The version I've done was found in Carrie Stevens, and was tied by Robert Warren there. The one shown in Mary Orvis Marbury's Favorite Flies has a solid yellow underwing of goose or mallard quill, and would be much easier to do. I found it necessary to do the hard one. It's apparently in my nature.

It's interesting to note that the town of Mooselookmeguntic, Maine is among those with the longest community names without a hyphen (-) in the U.S. The others are: Kleinfeltersville, PA.; Chickasawhatchee, GA.; Chancellorsville, VA.; and Eichelbergertown, PA.

While the name of the fly may be a mouthful, I had a great time tying a few of these. Though the giant brook trout are long gone from the Rangely Region, there is still considerable fishing there, and I'll discuss that in upcoming articles. Here's the recipe, with more flies from the Rangeley region coming soon.


    Tip: Gold tinsel

    Tail: Cinnamon turkey

    Ribbing: Gold tinsel

    Body: Gray floss

    Hackle: Chestnut partridge

    Wing: Cinnamon turkey over yellow

Credits: Flies by J. Edson Leonard; Carrie Stevens by Graydon R. Hilyard; Outing Volume Vlll Issue 3 June 1886 "Trout Fishing In Maine" by Ripley Hitchcock; ~ 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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