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 Eighty

My Home River - Part Two

By Old Rupe


I have a meadow near the castles, (yes we have two here,) where if a person was sharp some real monsters would come out from the undercut banks to a small elk hair caddis. If the fly is more than three inches off the grass don't even bother.

Just above that section was about 600 yards of little dams and pools that a local trout club built years ago. I would walk the road and fish risers. The trick was to fish from the road and lay the fly line on the berm. With a long leader a three foot float was a possibility. Like always presentation was the key.

I had a bridge where real nice fish would come to the fly. The only problem was those ugly trout would only take midge pupa size 22 and smaller. I have wasted many an afternoon watching 'flashing' fish work midges under that bridge while I did without. Maybe this is purgatory?

I finally got kind of smart and would call the canoe livery about the clarity of the water and whether the fish were jumping or not. Since I provided the beer they would describe water clarity and fishing reports as best they could. The problem was they were not trout fishermen and a person had to be smart enough to ask the correct question. Some times I was and sometimes I wasn't.

I have read a lot on entomology and actually consider myself fairly knowledgeable with respect to stream inhabitants. I have really looked and never seen stone fly husks on stream side vegetation. Since I don't fish it in the winter, due to my poor circulation, I can't rule out the little winter blacks. I suspect that these at least are there. I hear of those little black flies on the snow size 18 or so. Sounds like little winter blacks to me.

My river is undergoing a transition. Ten years ago we had no hatches except a few caddis and some small stuff that was size 32 or better. Now I regularly see Hendricksons and their male counterpart the Red Quill, along with a bunch of different blue wing olives in 18 to 20's. I regularly fish an 18 to 20 blue winged olive (BWO) as the preferred up-wing during the majority of the year. Search with the green machine Old rupe says. If it ain't green it's just not king. A elk hair caddis (EHC) in size 16 to 18 completes the act. Tie it in the Troth tie with a peacock body. Use Diiachi 1310's like Troth does for the hooks. I have used all my hooks up and now am awaiting my order. I now use that hook for most of my ties. It's amazing how smart old Al Troth is, he is the most aware fly fisher and fly designer I have seen. His EHC tie has accounted for probably 80 percent of my fish during my fly-fishing tenure.

Al you are one of my heroes, but even with my bad circulation I can probably tie a fly on as fast as you can. That's how I judge my guides. If they can't tie a fly on faster than me I don't fish with them. Its sort of an 'in' joke. I can see it now, he who loses has to row. I may regret saying that. My hands have grown soft. I will decline on philosophical grounds. I will have to await the adjustments to my new glasses. I have never competed with someone that has more hair on his face than me. I suspect it's an unfair advantage.

He who fails to fish an indicator for nymphs on my river just doesn't understand the act. The Heenan crew have refined that act to a fine art. Both kids now work for high profile fly shops in Montana. They go to college there while the old man continues to sore mouth all the fish on the river here. Never try to fish behind a Heenan. He would walk over big rocks barefoot just to fish. There are just some things you can not stop. All serious fly fishers hope the price of his company stock will drop, and he will have to get a real job. If Tim didn't release all he caught, my stream would be as sterile as a Macdonald's parking lot.

My best fish have been on streamers. Size six muddlers thrown on the bank and hopped into the water. The retrieve, a six to eight inch quick pull has produced for me better than all the classic methods. I will never forget the 17 inch brown that nailed my muddler after jumping over a partially awash sweeper to connect. Quick six to eight inch pulls right on the bank seems to win the lotto.

I have never forgotten my rivers mandate. Presentation is two places in front of what ever is in second place. One year when I did stomach samples bark beetles were the critter. I matched it with a size 16 EHC. Those days when the wind blew in gusts really seemed to be bark beetle events. It's a 16 to 18 black beetle with a small red dot on top. On a windy day when you can't see what they are sporadically rising to remember its small bark beetles.

Early in the year when nothing is happening I work my high dollar metal detector around a couple of spots that are supposed to have hidden treasures. I never found a penny and my White Spectrum 90 can tell the difference between a dime and a quarter. My river has it all. Trout and treasure, what more could you ask. I really believe those old hermits spent their money on cold beer and young honeys. They sure didn't hide it around their old home sites.

In the final analysis learn your home river. Spot more beers for Old Rupe, a bright red marker flag would be helpful as my eyesight seems to be less than what it used to be. Release a few fish for me, and try to promote better manners on the stream. For those lesser infractions an ash wading staff really helps.

Always remember Old Rupes advice, in life "what you see is what you get." Old Rupe

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