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 . .

Part Fifty-two

Pond Scum And Trout Flies

By Old Rupe

In general trout fishermen are pond scum. I have over the last fifty or so years seen most of the bad acts that are out there. It's really hard to surprise me. I think I've seen it all. Pond scum acts are generally the result of being so cheap that it puts a Scotchman to shame. The best examples can't be told because the guilty party just might read it here. The perpetrators are nice guys but so cheap they squeeze a nickel till the buffalo hollers. They walk across a parking lot looking for dropped pennies. They just never understood that in life a person has to pay his own way. Here are a few examples that just stuck in my craw.

Old Harry is a great dentist but he will never pay his way. I've seen him keep records to the cent and trade off those expenses for dental work at his usual out of sight rates. In his own mind he thinks he's doing good. He has a bamboo rod that belongs in a museum, in fact he has several that should be there. Paynes and Gillums just seem to gravitate to these individuals. I sort of got tired of his act and every time we fished I would leave my partial at home. That missing tooth in front bothered him so much that he finally straightened up his act a little. I can actually remember him buying lunch, one time.

Norm loved to fly fish but would never buy any equipment. Every time we would go on a fishing trip he would volunteer his car. Our rule was that he who furnished the car didn't buy gas. I furnished the gas, rods, leaders, flies, and guided him to the best trout on the designated water. I had to sleep in the back of his car many times because "we" didn't have enough money for a motel. I now furnish my own stuff and sleep in a motel.

I had one guy hire me and then show up with his three friends. They thought that once I was hired I'd guide the whole football team. Yes they were football players. I told them, "Too many men in the back field. It's a $150.00 penalty." It made me so mad I just went home. These old boys were pro's and could afford the $100 we charged on the AuSable for a day of walk-in guiding. I can't guide 4 people at one time. Even if the guy listens a one-on-one event can be tough. I don't think that even Al Campbell of South Dakota fame could adequately guide four on a small stream in a day.

I've had those that fished with me steal flies. I have a rule, I'll give away all the flies that they can reasonably use. I just say help your self. If you like what I tie just ask me and if you send me the hooks, I'll tie you 50 or so free. If you can't afford the hooks I generally furnish them too. I tie a durable fly and 50 or so will last quite a while though Mamma, one of the computer whizzes on this site, said my soft hackle bodies started to look pretty ragged after 15 trout or so. After that I quit using silk floss bodies and now rely on double wrapped Pearsall's Gossamer silk thread.

Any time a dollar rears its ugly head pond scum surfaces. There are so few dollars in my sport that at best most business ventures are underpaid walks through a financial inner city. The competition between guides and small fly shops shames professional sports. There just isn't enough money there to support any kind of a life style. It's really cut throat capitalism with a very sharp knife. Even winners loose in the end most times. Dirty tricks abound. If the sport becomes anything more than a fun thing a person is kidding himself.

Alaskan lodges, Canadian guides, Great Lakes charters, Florida fly fishing guides, and fly shops in general operate on such a thin margin that dirty tricks are the name of the game. I remember a particularly nasty shot against Scheels in Rapid City South Dakota by a competitor. Such is the norm.

Those that have aspiration toward financial security through fly fishing should read the above comments several times.

I guide only friends, and then for free. I don't even accept gas money. It's because I want to be with them for a nice day on the lake or stream. I give my flies away free because I want my friends to enjoy them. I don't even charge shipping. If you catch me right I'll furnish the Fosters and ribs though some of my friends. Jim to name one, would rather drink the effluent from my dish washer.

There was a time when the sport was a shared thing, where the size of the pocket book or the profession of the person didn't segregate the participants. Then most of the players made their own stuff. They made leaders, flies, rods, boats, the dollar just wasn't there. It was the love of the sport. There was even an understood accepted code of conduct. A person acted the way his mother taught him. Pond scum rarely surfaced.

Isn't it amazing how smart mothers really were?

Thanks mom. ~ Old Rupe

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