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

This interesting little fly was named for the Magalloway River in the Rangeley Region of Maine. This river starts in the upper Northwestern part of the state, and flows for 40 miles south, into and out of Lake Parmachene, down through Aziscohos Lake, and ultimately joins the Androscoggin River at the outlet of Ubagog Lake. The fly features a peacock sword wing, similar to the one found on the Alexandria. These wings have long been out of favor now, and I wonder why. I would imagine that under the right circumstances these appendages waving in the water would make for a very effective and attractive fly.

Camp on the Magalloway

Charles A. J. Farrar's book Through the Wilds, written in 1892, details a trip he and his cohorts took up the Magalloway which started in New Hampshire, and eventually reached Lake Parmachenee (as they called it). You can see a lean-to they built along the way in the background of the picture above. The first part of the trip included their wives, and was taken by steamer. Along the way the sights included the Diamond Peaks, Pulpit Rock, and culminated with a climb up Mount Aziscohos. Farrar's description of the view is as follows:

From the top of Mount Aziscohos you gaze upon a forest wilderness, bounded only by the blue sky in which it is lost. A grand upheaval of mountain peaks and ranges, many of which are wooded to their summits. Circle upon circle of billowy ridges, their tops green or gray, extending from beneath you to the utmost limit of your sight. This is the first impression of the view as it bursts upon your bewildered gaze. Afterward you have time to notice that between nearly all of these mountains are ponds, lakes, or rivers. Indeed, I doubt if there is a mountain in New England from whose summit you can distinctly see and count so many other mountains and so many pieces of water as from this one. I have climbed more than the average number of mountains allotted to most men, and I have never found its equal in this respect. I could not name half of the mountains and pieces of water seen from the summit of old Aziscohos, and I doubt if it has ever been visited by any one who could.

Some of the principal ranges and peaks seen and known are the Half-Moon, Dustan, Moose, Blue, Sawyer, Deer, Kennebago, Saddleback, the Bigelow Peaks, Swan, Bald Pate [now known as Bald Mountain], Speckled Mountain, Mount Katahdin, the high peaks of the White Mountains, Mount Chocorua and Boundary Mountains. The entire chain of the Androscoggin, Magalloway, Kennebago, and Rangeley Rivers are but a few of the bodies of water.

Wow, quite a view, encompassing landmarks in two states! I got a kick out of a sketch of the group having lunch on top of the mountain. This was, after all, the Victorian period, and there was never reason to be underdressed.

Lunch on Aziscohos

It was shortly after this that the men bid adieu to the women, and began the more rigorous canoe journey up to Parmachenee. More adventures ensue, and lots of hunting and fishing is done on the way. It's closer to a safari than a fishing trip, and these trips were long treks into what was at the time, unknown wilderness for the most part. We can only now dream what this must have been like. Dream, and tie flies from the period, and dream some more.


    Tip: Gold tinsel

    Tail: Golden pheasant crest

    Butt: Black chenille

    Body: Light brown dubbing, picked out

    Hackle: Furnace hen

    Wing: Peacock sword

Credits: Camp Life in the Wilderness by Capt. Charles A. J. Farrar; Through the Wilds by Capt. Charles A. J. Farrar; Flies by J. Edson Leonard; Trout by Ray Bergman; ~ 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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