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 thirty-three

Iron Fraudator

Iron Fraudator

Compiled by Deanna Birkholm


The Iron fraudator is a name which may not be familiar to you but to many easterners it is the earliest of the May flies. They usually hatch the first week in May.

If that sounds like it should be another fly, you are right. Some claim the Iron fraudator is exactly the insect which Theodore Gordon copied when creating his Quill Gordon (which should have been called the Gordon Quill.) Nevertheless, the surprise is the Quill Gordon was not orginally tied as a dry fly! At least not entirely. So what follows is the recipe for the wet. See Quill Gordon for the dry. The wet is described in several texts as an emerger.

According to Art Flick's new Streamside Guide, "Trout tend to be very selective when feeding on this fly, and I would advise fishermen who get on the streams early in the season to have a supply of them when starting out. On many occasions I have seen fish refuse any other artificial.

The female is larger and slightly lighter in color than the male, but my experience has been that trout will take a properly tied Quill Gordon with either light or dark dun hackles. [I suspect this refers to the Blue Quill as well as the variance in hackle - the Blue Quill also being a wet fly as well.]

Iron fraudator has two tails and has brown heart-shaped markings on the legs, visible to the naked eye.

With normal water conditons, they emerge at about one-thirty P.M., the main hatch coming at that time . . . there may be a small hatch in the morning, but the one in the afternoon is of most importance to the fishermen."

Quill Gordon, (Iron Fraudator) Wet

    Hook:   #6 or 8 low water salmon.

    Tail:   Blue dun cock's hackle.

    Body:   Three strands moose mane, two dark brown and one natural light, over a padding of floss; body should be coated with a thin coat of Amberoid cement.

    Wing:  Grey mallard dyed summer duck, or Mandarin flank feather.

Again from Art Flick, "There is another May fly, very similar to Iron fraudator, which is much more prevalent in the West than in the East. It is known as Rhithrogena and is rather common in Utah and California and other western states. The nymphs can be distinguished very readily by the red gills.

An imitation of the fly has been found very effective tied the same as a Quill Gordon on size 10 and 12 hooks."

Credits: Text from Art Flick's new Streamside Guide by Art Flick, published by Crown Publishers. Color photo and recipe from Forgotten Flies. We appreciate use permission! ~ DLB

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