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 eighty-seven

Royal Coachman Wet

Royal Coachman Wet

Compiled by Deanna Lee Birkholm

Quoting from Favorite Flies and Their Histories by Mary Orvis Marbury, "The Royal Coachman was first made in 1878 by John Hailey, a prefessional fly-dresser living in New York city. In writing of other matters, he inclosed a sample of this fly for us to see, saying: "A gentleman wanted me to tie some Coachman for him to take up into the north woods, and to make them extra strong, so I have tied them with a little bank of silk in the middle, to prevent the peacock bodies from fraying out. I have also added a tail of the barred feathers of wood-duck, and I think it makes a very handsome fly." A few evenings later, a circle of us were together "disputing the fly question," one of the party claiming that numbers were "quite as suitable to designate the flies as so many nonsensical names." The others did not agree with him, but he said: "What can you do? Here is a fly intended to be a Coachman, yet it is not the true Coachman; is quite unlike it, and what can you call it?" Mr. L.C. Orvis, brother of Mr. Charles Orvis, who was present, said: "Oh, that is easy enough; call it the Royal Coachman, it is so finely dressed!" And this name in time came to be known and used by all who are familiar with the fly."

Orvis Fly Tying Staff 1880

In the photo above, the Orvis Fly Room staff, circa 1880, from Forgotten Flies.

Royal Coachman Wet
As dressed by Mary Orvis Marbury

    Tail:  Golden Pheasant tippet.

    Body:  Peacock herl, scarlet floss center joint.

    Wing:  White.

    Hackle:  Dark brown.

Credits: Quoted text and small photo from Favorite Flies and Their Histories, published by Lyons Press. Large photo and Orvis Tiers Photo from Forgotten Flies, published by Complete Sportsman.

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