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 One hundred-five

Tomah-Jo

Tomah-Jo

Compiled by Deanna Birkholm


"This fly was named in honor of Tomah-Joseph, the Indian guide who put the first one together. Tomah-Joseph lived in a little Indian settlement, Peter Denis' Point, on the lower of the Schoodic chain of lakes, and was well known to the anglers who, back in the 1870's visited Grand Lake Stream, outlet of Grand Lake, in Washington County, Maine.

The landlocked salmon were then and there known as "white trout" and "Schoodic trout."

Tomah-Joseph and his brother, Gabriel Tomah, were sons of Pel Tomah. Gabriel were Grand Sachem of the Passamaquoddy tribe, while Tomah-Joseph represented his people in the State Legislature.

The original, made in Indian style by Tomah-Joseph, was presented to Mr. Edward A. Samuels, who named it. He had Sarah McBride copy it is several sizes. Mr. Samuels used the pattern successfully for salmon on the Miramichi, New Brunswick and the Ashuapmouchouan in Quebec.

Mr. Samuels was born in Boston in 1836. From 1860 to 1880 he was assistant secretary to the Massachusetts Board of Agriculture. Of his numberous works, two were With Fly Rod and Camera, 1890, and With Rod and Gun in New England and the Maritime Provinces, 1897. He served as president of the Massachusetts Fish and Game Protection Association from 1885 to 1892. He died in 1908.

The fly, as tied by Sarah McBride, had a yellow and white floss body, wound hard, with a narrow strip of silver tinsel. [Silver tinsel body shown] The tail was composed of yellow fibres from the crest of the Chinese golden pheasant. The red and yellow hackle was full. The wings were narrow feathers of the wood or summer duck, with black and white bars.

Tomah-Joseph's advice was, "Bring plenty wood duck wing fly - yellow body."

Tomah-Joseph gave one to Charles Woodbury Stevens of Boston, after whom the Stevens fly was named. The fly became a great favorite of Mr. Stevens, in his charming book, Fly Fishing in Maine Lakes, or Camp Life in the Wilderness,1880, he wrote of Tomah-Joseph.

The Stevens fly, original with J.W. Keene, was body, dark green silk; wings, the lead colored under-feather of the duck's wing; hackle small feather of ruffed grouse.

Quoted section from Fly Patterns and Their Origins, published by Westshore Publications, Color photo from Forgotten Flies. We appreciate use permission!

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