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?

The Catskill Museum

Larry Bordas, Pennsylvania - September 14, 2009

If you check out the title and heading at the top of this page at FAOL, you will see "just old flies and stuff". Well I guess you can file the following under "old stuff" and if you enjoy old fly fishing stuff the place to be was at Roscoe, NY the birthplace of American fly-fishing, for the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum Summerfest and Angler's Market.

The Summerfest, held annually for the past 27 years, is a gathering of vendors, exhibits and fly-fishing enthusiast to buy, trade and enjoy almost anything fly-fishing related from modern fly equipment to antique cane rods, reels, flies and rare books. I had the pleasure of attending this year's event held August 8 and 9 on the museum grounds located on the banks of the historic Willowemoc Creek. Located a few miles out of Roscoe on old Rt 17, the road follows the creek up stream. As you drive along you can see numerous pull offs being used by fishermen at some of the pools. As we arrived and pulled into in the parking area there were people heading for the Summerfest but also there were fishermen either getting geared up with waders, vests, rods and reels or already heading for the water to wet a line and try for one of the resident trout. The location and entire setting was very pleasant with the museum buildings located on the opposite side of the creek across from the highway old Rt 17. After parking the car we crossed over the creek by means of a wooden planked bridge, and as the cool clear water of the Willowemoc flowed beneath our feet we could not keep ourselves from stopping to stare into the water trying to catch a glimpse of a trout. After crossing the bridge, we preceded downstream towards the rows of vendors located right on the banks of the creek. In addition to the vendors I quickly noticed fishermen carrying items for sell or trade, talking with other fishermen, comparing notes or trying to make some sort of deal. I saw lots of laughing and joking among the crowd with everyone having what seemed to be a very good time. My first impression was that of an old Rocky mountain fur rendezvous of the 1800's. Working in a clockwise direction we managed to take in just about all the vendors displaying just about anything a fisherman might need and a few things that according to my wife, I didn't need like a $2,200 bamboo fly rod. I did make some headway in regards to acquiring a new fly reel. With the help of the events recognized appraiser Bob Selb of the Classic Fly Fisherman, I found out my old Pflueger 1494 that I still use, might be worth more as an antique than on the butt end of my old fly rod.

After a quick lunch we headed to the museum building and gift shop. Once inside it took only a moment to realize that this is a first class operation with world-class exhibits. We spent almost 3 hours inside looking at the displays.

There are just too many displays to begin to list here but I will mention some of my favorites. The area dedicated to Lee Wulff was probably my personal favorite containing tons of his personal items including his fly tying desk and fishing vest with all its contents. It was somehow reassuring to me to see the top of Lee Wulff's tying desk was just about as messy as mine and like most of us, he also used an empty Sucrets box for his flies. Another display of special interest to me was the tying desk and flies of Poul Jorgensen. Other notable exhibits include the Dettes and Darbees, Art Flick, Ed Zern, and a host of other familiar names. I also had a chance to visit with Miriam Jones current President of CFFCM and express what a wonderful job she and all the volunteers did with the museum and how impressed I was with the entire program. She informed me about the many programs though out the year and the museum's archives and how they were able to change the displays from time to time to keep things fresh and new. You can get more information about the activities at the museum on their web site.

The entire day was educational and very enjoyable and went by to quickly. My first visit to the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum is one I will never forget, not only for the wonderful exhibits but also for all the friendly people I had a chance to meet and talk with about our sport of fly-fishing. I would certainly recommend a visit to Roscoe, NY and the fly fishing museum.

Because of the history and connection to the Beaverkill and other local streams I think it is fitting that I use the Lady Beaverkill to accompany this article. The female or Lady Beaverkill with its yellow egg sack is used to resemble the egg laying stage of the female Hendrickson. DuBruce Blacksmith and George Cooper are said to have originated the Female Beaverkill around 1890.

Lady Beaverkill

Credits: Flies by J. Edson Leonard; ~ LB

About Larry:

Larry My mother always said that I got my love of the outdoors from my grandfather and it was this love of the outdoor life and to be near the great hunting and fishing that led me to relocate to Lycoming County of northern Pennsylvania. While I have been a fisherman since I was six, I have only been fly fishing and tying for the past 15 years and consider myself at best only an average fly tier and fisherman. I started teaching myself fly fishing and to tie flies by reading books and talking to other fly fishermen and as I learned about the nuts and bolts of fly fishing, such as casting, drag and matching the hatch, I slowly developed an appreciation of the history and great tradition of the sport. While learning about the history and tying these old wet flies has given me hours of enjoyment, my real enjoyment and memories comes from fishing with and sharing with others information about these historic flies. ~ LB

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