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-thirtyone

Chief Needahbeh

Chief Needahbeh
Dressed by Chief Needahbeh

Compiled by Deanna Birkholm


Chief Needahbeh (promounced Ne-DAH-ba) was the proprietor of Needahbeh's Shack, a tackle shop at Moosehead Lake in Greenville, Maine. A Native American Penobscot, he was also known as Chief Roland Nelson and frequently demonstrated his native traditions at sporting shows.

The fly was, of course, originated by the Chief, who also dressed the fly without a tail or secondary throat, and with orange hackles in the wing instead of red. He said the later version was especially good on dark days and that both flies are good for smallmouth and largemouth bass, as well as for the trout and landlocked salmon for which the fly was originally intended.

The recipe is: Chief Needahbeh

    Head:   Black.

    Tag:   Narrow flat silver tinsel.

    Tail:  A section of red duck or goose wing feather.

    Body:  Red silk. (The original version, as dressed by Chief Needahbeh, has a red hackle "throat" one-third of the way forward on the body. A similar effect could be obtained by palmering a red hackle, but is was not done in this case. The purpose of the "throat" evidently was to give greater action to the fly.)

    Ribbing:  Narrow flat silver tinsel.

    Throat:   A red saddle hackle tied on as a collar after the wing has been applied. It is dressed rather full.

    Wing:  A red saddle hackle on each side of two yellow saddle hackles.

    Cheeks:  Jungle cock, rather short.

Credits: pattern and photo from Streamer FlyTying & Fishing by Joseph D. Bates, Jr. published by Stackpole Books. ~ DLB

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