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-one

Turned Around Two

By Old Rupe


I hate to always quote poetry but poets just seem to say an idea so well that I just can't forget it. It churns around in my brain for years, sometimes until I equate it with the reality I see. How come they are so smart? I was reading Thoreau a while back at the lake. It's best read by a coal oil lamp which I use to read by late at night. Something about the flickering flame lends itself to reflection. The two line bit of wisdom that stuck in my mind was:

A man needs only to be turned around once
with his eyes shut in this world to be lost.

Fly fisherman seem to have been turned around more than just once. High dollar equipment has been touted as a necessity. Image has been glorified and held in higher regard than the fun of fishing. There is a competitive spirit instilled even into beginners that almost requires a person to glance around to see who saw him catch that nice fish. Image is becoming all. Such a sad thing. I bought a $24 dollar vice the other day on the Internet, that included shipping and handling. A good line and one of the many one hundred dollar rods or cheaper ones with a leader tying kit puts a serious fisher out there loaded for whatever trout he might come up against.

I've spent more than most on rods and reels and vises, but I realize that it's not a necessity to be able to pursue the sport. I have them because I just enjoy having them. Maybe I'm influenced too by the hype that drives us all. How much of that enjoyment is generated by the fly fishing establishment I'll probably never realize. Is there no sanity left in the fly fishing world?

Everyone is teaching a class on some phase of fly fishing at $650 or so for 2 days plus food and lodging. The last time I was asked to show someone what little I knew, I spent 7-8 days explaining the sport I love and showing him how to fish. I think I even bought the beer.

Waders that leak and vises that won't hold a hook or rods that self destruct after a day or two on the stream won't hack it, but they are becoming harder to find. Most of the stuff out there really works. Sure I like fine things more than most but deep down I realize that they are not a necessity.

What is necessary is a commitment to excellence, whether it is in tying, casting, fishing, or life.

I am my own toughest judge. I really know my act. I may try to gloss it over but deep down I know where I have succeeded and where I have faltered. I may not do better but its not because I don't know. We are all lazy, and attack our sport to the level that we can live with. It's not necessary to mortgage the house to enjoy fly fishing, though I've spent my share. The rods I made 20 years ago would have provided all the sport I needed, even today.

Do we really need the best whatever at 4-8 hundred a pop? I'm trying to resist the acquisition thing. It's worse than quitting smoking. Last September I failed to register for a chance to win a fine bamboo rod here on FAOL because I had all the rods I needed.

Even in my state where fly fishing for trout is a limited thing there is enough good trout fishing to last me a lifetime. One of those hard old trout from the Mad River is worth fifty from some remote under fished river. I've probably taken my last exotic trip. I can't give up the AuSable in Michigan but that's almost in my back yard.

One of the advantages of growing old is that it gives a person time to define himself. I have finally decided where I really like to fish and how, what flies I really enjoy tying and have allocated time to finally get to read some books I bought and just never seemed to have a chance to read.

I'm still lost. I was really turned around. There may be hope for me yet. Yesterday I think I finally saw the way home. Old Rupe

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