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 today's 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?

Greig Quill

Greig Quill
By Eric Austin, Ohio

From the N.Y. Times, Friday, September 13, 1996, By Barbara Lloyd:

Elizabeth Greig, one of the country's most accomplished women at tying fly-fishing lures who was known for her adeptness and her unusual technique, died last Saturday at Highlands Lake Center-Genesis Eldercare in Lakeland, Fla. She was 93.

An expert known for tying flies with her hands instead of with a conventional vise, Mrs. Greig was a innovator in fly-fishing at a time when mostly men participated in the sport. In the late 1930's, Mrs. Greig was a founder of Angler's Roost, a popular fly-fishing shop situated in the Chrysler Building in New York City.

Her skills were pervasive, from knowing where to wade into the fly-fishing streams of the Catskills, to the important task of choosing the feathers and other materials that made the difference between a quality or inferior fly. Scotty, as she was called, encouraged the fish tales that floated in and out of the conversations at her shop in New York. ''There were more fish caught in my shop than on most streams,'' she was once quoted as having said.

Mrs. Greig was born in Peebles, Scotland, on Sept. 10, 1902. Her father, a stone mason, taught her how to fly-fish on the shores of the River Tweed by day, and how to tie flies at the kitchen table by night.

This is one of those flies that just looks "fishy" to me, and there is no doubt in my mind that it will do very well in a variety of circumstances. I've done this one in-hand in the interest of historical accuracy, but it just makes the fly more time consuming to tie. I'm not sure why, but the winging becomes much easier to do in-hand on these flank wing flies. I just doubled a wood duck feather over along the stem, and tied it on, grasping the shank and doubled feather in my left hand, wrapping with my right. Pulling the loop tight at the end of the whip finish turned out to be the hard part. I'll have to work on that. Some tiers of old would have a button attached to their bench that the thread could be wrapped around to aid with that process and others. Here's the recipe for Elizabeth Greig's Quill:

Greig Quill

    Tail: Dark badger hackle

    Body: Peacock herl

    Hackle: Dark badger

    Wing: Wood duck flank

Credits: N. Y. Times article "Elizabeth Greig, 93, Fly-Fishing Expert And Sport Innovator" By Barbara Lloyd ~ EA

About Eric:

Eric Eric lives in Delaware, Ohio and fishes for brown trout in the Mad River, a beautiful spring creek. More of his flies are on display here: traditionalflies.com -- Classic salmon and trout flies of Europe and the Americas.

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