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 Seventy-three

Materials

By Old Rupe


All of us who tie flies run up against the nasty concrete wall called the lack of correct materials. We have become secretive. We break federal laws that protect endangered species, and when we travel we re-enter our homeland with animal parts that the mere possession of which is worse than robbing the local convenience store with a shot gun. We place ourselves at terrible risk. We substitute when we can but we just can't find the correct match for many materials. Polar Bear hair, Jungle Cock eyes, condor quill, Indian Crow, Florican Bustard, eagle feathers, Blue Heron herl; the list just goes on and on.

Every year another goody is added to the list of things we can't even possess. I have a list of goodies that I would like to find. Blue Heron feathers command respect even in the middle of a fire fight in the inner city. Tell a fly fisher he can get Polar Bear hair and Blue Heron herl after 10 p.m. on the lower west side and drug dealers had better beware. They would soon understand how life really was. I think the second clip would carry the day. Never bet on herons and Polar Bears.

Polar Bear just never is uttered. It is called euphemisms such as lite Yak hair and bleached Reindeer tail, and in response to what Bustard really looked like last week I had to confess that I couldn't really remember. I haven't actually seen any in 25 years or so.

Good hooks are just as bad. Some English hooks are as hard to find as a college virgin. I had some outstanding offers out for a particular brand that never even got a nibble. One of my adds just said, "post your price." I had no takers.

Ox ear hair for the Pott's Sandy mite series came in at $300 a pound, forty years ago. I tried to buy a pound from a paint brush manufacture two years ago and never even got a reply. I said I would pay the going rate what ever it was. This hair is bought from China and requires special contacts. Paint brush people have the only access. I can't get it. They sell all they can get at high dollars a paint brush. I just do without even if I pay big dollars a pound. They need all the pounds that are available just to stay in business. [Ed Note: How many Pott's sandy mites can a guy tie from one paint brush?] No wonder Foster Lager sells so well. If you own an ox guard his ears.

Don't try to acquire badger hair in three-inch lengths without first contacting your banks loan officer. It seems that God can't even get it except on rare occasions. I suspect a meteor has to kill one to make that length of hair available. Pray for meteors.

Life can be ugly. The correct shade of floss can go for $30 a spool if you can talk the seller into accepting a cashiers check. Really some won't. I have had to fly in to get materials from some who just would not accept anything but cash. Upper New England is especially bad in this aspect. Maybe an earth quake will swallow them up. Father Lochner keeps trying to convince me all will resolve. When pigs fly I say. He doesn't tie flies so he really doesn't have a clue.

Good spade hackles are only available from Spencer's Hackles, and then only if they like you. Knee pads and a begging cup along with a Platinum Master Card seems to be a requirement. Don't leave home without the card.

My best friend is a veterinarian and he knows every zoo keeper within a thousand miles. Molted feathers just seem to fall into his hands. I used to be able to get serious feathers but that has now dried up. I think zoo keepers are now marketing molted stuff for their retirement. I have seen ads that would support this view.

I use some difficult-to-find furs for my flies. Kinkajou has a nice look but is becoming harder to find in the shades I want. These are flies that others never see. I have two classes of flies. "Others" flies and "my" flies. Others never see my flies.

I use a fine haired Central American mammal for my small stuff. I get it sent to me every year or so. My wife and her relatives who have lived there all their lives just can't tell me the name of the animal. It seems to live in trees and eat fruit. Don't ask just tie.

PS - Geoffrey Bucknall hooks dry fly size 13 and 18 ~ Old Rupe -- post price!

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