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 Sixty-nine

Why I'm Maudlin

By Old Rupe


I got a nice letter the other day from a fellow named Gordon saying he liked the articles I wrote even when they were maudlin. Webster defines Maudlin as 'effusively or tearfully sentimental,' an alteration of Mary Magdalene who was frequently depicted as a tearful penitent. I guess I am. Let's look at why.

I can remember the times on my home stream that I fished for four years every night from 5 p.m. until dark when my friend and I never saw another fly fisher. Boy has that changed, and most of the ones with manners seem to have stayed home. I no longer fish a local lake after observing jet boat passengers and drivers openly doing dope on the lake. My boat only goes 50 mph or so and I can't out run them. I've been known to drink a Fosters or two but not when I'm operating a high performance boat. Each year they have serious crashes on the lake. There always seems to be boat Styrofoam littering the shore line. Not a good thing.

I see fewer gentlemen on the stream every year. The new inductees into the sport seem to have missed the classes their mothers taught on acceptable personal behavior. Getting the fish isn't everything. A fisher must fit into the system, or the system dies. Leon C. when you're gone I may quit fishing. Some day I hope my son gets to meet you.

It seems everyone is trying to make money from the sport. I remember vividly the question that was put to a guest lecturer about how to tie his squirrel hair nymph, and the answer to the effect that he didn't answer questions like that for free. I understood the game after that. I didn't ask the question, but I was hurt just the same hearing the answer. There is no real system in place to help the person who wants to learn the sport. (Other than right here on Fly Anglers OnLine.) All there is out there seems to be rude guides who carry a cash register on their back. Nymph fishing with an indicator, '$$$$$$,' long leader dry fly, "your Master Card please."

The environment we fish in seems to go down hill more each year. The people who use the resource seem unwilling to assure that it's there for the future. Even for their future. Marriage isn't the only thing that seems to suffer a lack of commitment in these times.

There was a time when craftsmen that loved the sport made things just because they could. They were things of beauty, there was no corporate bottom line. There was pride of workmanship and none expected to make a million dollars. A fine thing for a fair price. Look at Ron K's bamboo rods, and Stan's fine reels. Corporate production lost something in the transition. I think Gatti rods fall into the fine thing category, along with Russ Peak rods and the occasional Payne rod, when its available. Fine things always come to the top. Some day before I die I hope to own and fish one of Ron K's rods. A 4 wt. I think. The problem is that today people don't appreciate the really good things out there. Ron, if they ever do you're going to have to live to be a thousand to satisfy the demand.

There seems to be a yuppie influence in fly fishing. When I pull in to fish my local stream few cars under $30,000 seem to park there. It shouldn't be that way. My chevy pick up is lonesome. I remember a State Patrolman who stopped and ask me how I was doing. He said he owned 6 flies. I regret I never gave him a hundred or so, as I had 3-4 thousand with me in the truck at the time. I just didn't think. I have many good flies I'll never use.

So Gordon, you have an invitation to come east during my vacation and I'll show you how it used to be. Two fly fishers exploring the sport, such as it is. Maybe then you will understand my view on fly fishing. I'm decrepit and old but I know the sport. It will be a great two weeks. Twenty years from now you will cry too. ~ Old Rupe

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