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-six

Flutterin Fly

Fluttering Fly

By LadyFisher

Here is a very interesting concept. You might try tying this one for yourself and fishing it of course, to see what the reaction is. At the time, "this fly, described as "unquestionably the greatest and most radical improvement in fishing tackle," was invented by Wakeman Holbertson" (more on him later) "and patented May 4, 1886."

"It was claimed with the feathers so tied, the wings offered less resistence to the air in casting, and as the fly was slowly drawn through the water the wings expanded and gave it a fluttering motion, which was more alluring to fish."

Whether the idea was original with Mr. Holberston or not, it was practically the same as the Redding . . . which dates six years earlier."

Holbertson was very well known as a salmon fisher, and another fly he created, called Holbertson was named after him. The salmon fly was considered the "fanciest of the fancy." Holbertson was an excellent caster in the competitions of the New York State Sportsman's Club. He won aclaim as an artist for his watercolor paintings of trout. He was secretary of the Neversink Club in 1884. His biggest contribution to the fly fishing world however may be his attempts to standardize the names of flies, since there were many flies bearing the same name which were entirely different flies. He painted fifty copies of a watercolor picture, showing a speckled trout rising to the fly. Surrounding the trout in the form of a border are sixty-four trout fly patterns, numbered and named. In Harold Hinsdill Smedley's book, Fly Patterns and their Origins the author mentions he had seen one copy, No 6, owned by Edward D. Knight, Jr. of Charleston, West Virginia. (The book was published in 1950.)

In 1884 Holbertson painted another set of forty varieties of "Standard American Black Bass and Lake Flies."

"He was the author of The Art of Angling, 1887; and Angling Recreation - a single volume issue, with paintings by himself. When writing for the papers, which he frequently did, he often used the non de plume of "Scarlet Ibis."

Another fly, for bass, the Lottie, tied in yellow and black was also his creation.

Interestingly, in 1880 (six years earlier than the Fluttering Fly) the same concept was used in a fly called the Redding, all the way across the country in San Franciso. B.B. Redding, at that time a member of California's first State Fish Commission, had the fly tied for him by a now unknown tier.

The Redding deer hair fly had the hair reversed on the upper part of the hook so as to open when drawn through the water. The lower part, or body, was of green peacock herl.

Mr. Redding had been mayor of Sacramento, member of the California Assembly, and State Secretary. He was a scientist, and wrote thirty-nine articles between 1877 and 1882 on salmon and trout. He died in 1890.

Do you wonder how such a tie would work? Hmmmmm . . . ~ LadyFisher

Credits: Drawing and selected quotes from Fly Patterns and Their Origins, by Harold Hinsdill Smedley, published by Westshore Publications, Muskegon, Michigan 1950.

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