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 Two hundred-two

Flies Over The Side

By John McBride


Friday:
Picked up Walter at the rest home at daylight and drove forty miles to the most secluded lake I have ever seen. Surrounded by big old pine trees, and with only four cottages on it, sure looked like a dream spot to me!

We are met at the door of a small cabin by Walt's sister Eudora. I don't guess ages well, so I won't insult her by trying! Let's just say Eudora is a tad over fifty. (BIG grin!) A very tiny lady that maybe weighs as much as my full fly vest.

We had coffee that was so strong you could park a Buick on top the cup of it, with homemade lady-locks for a pre-fishing snack. Remember lady-locks....those delicate pastry tube things, with some sort of sweet cream filling? (I'm showing my age again!)

I wasn't supposed to bring anything but myself, a cooler, (with the standard ice, pop, and of course my baked-shaved-ham sandwiches that everyone seems to like) and also the Dragonfly nymphs I had tied up using Walt's buddy, (from last weekend's outing) Paul's pattern. We walk down a brick path overgrown on each side with weeping willow trees mixed in among the pines to the dock.

Tied up there is the best looking Chris-Craft wooden speedboat I ever dreamed about while I was growing up. (My liking for Eudora went up ten notches!) I untie the lines and shove us away from the dock and fully expected to turn and see Walter at the wheel. . .boy was I surprised to see him setting in the very rear seat!

"This my boat. . . my lake. . .and my skill yer' a learnin' buddy. . . got sumthin' ta' say bout' it! The tiny voice snaps at me while I scramble to get into a seat, as she fires up the huge inboard motor.

"No ma...ma-am!" I stutter, still trying to get used to the idea of this little thing powering us all across the mirror calm lake at what seemed like break-neck speed. (Glad I put life-jacket panels inside my fishing vest!)

We get to where she wants to go, and she turns on a Hummingbird depth finder that I had not seen built into the dash. (It's going to be a long day, Walt's into my sandwiches, already!)

"Here sonny, take this two pound test spool of line, and tie your favorite weighted nymph pattern on. . .but don't trim any line off. . .jes' tie onto the end, and wind the line back around the spool." Miss retired Indy-500-wanna-be-driver tells me.

Now I have caught the eye of Walt as he has planned to pull a prank on his sister by having me use his buddy Paul's fly to trick her into revealing to us-HER favorite fly. (Walt hasn't been able to get this info out of her for the last thirty years!)

I tie the burlap/steel washer monstrosity onto the line, and then hold it up like I am seeing how it hangs on the end of the line. Eudora sees the fly, and swings around to look at Walt. . . and lo-and behold. . . he has the exact same fly tied on a spool of four pound test-setting on his knee while he watches a Crane fly over us. (Acting innocent!)

I think this little lady used to be a teacher. . . Oh no, not a school teacher. . . a swearing teacher for workers on the docks! (Man did she screech words that I won't type here for fear of melting my computer keyboard!)

To give you the gist of it, she was very upset because Paul never gives out his flies, and she knows this because the last time Walt brought someone to go fishing with her, it was mister "use my fly, but-by-golly-ya'-BETTER-give-it-back" Paul!

After calming her down from the thought about "two guys would maybe make good anchors" we settle down for the hand-line lesson, ONLY after giving her two flies for her own later use, (that she didn't have to give back to me!) and a promise to tie up a dozen of them for her,for later.

"You can cheat iffen' ya' don't know the lake with one of these fish finders, and look for schools of Crappie or Perch on the bottom." she evil-grins at me while saying this, in a way that makes me motion for Walter to pass me his hip flask.

"I love fresh Crappie, and if they are a-schoolin' ya' ken' catch alot this way!" she cackles as she unspools her line over the side.

I have to agree with Walt on this one, she's cagey alright, I never saw the fly on her line, as she had her back to me hiding it from view.

"Iffen' ya' look at yer' line, there are black marks every three feet, this will help you get the fly down to the right depth if the school isn't on bottom." she stares at me with a ''got-any-questions" look that could fry an egg!

I get onto the seat right beside her and spool out line to get my fly to the bottom, and settle in to watch her technique."You jes' hold the spool in your one hand with the center hole between your finger and thumb-so they can take line if need-be. . . and have some slack TO yer' other hand. . .and hold the line between your thumb and finger with the line over the top of your finger . . .and then ya' jes' GENTLY twitch that finger ever-so-slightly... till you feel either a tension...or slack if they bite yer' fly up-from underneath." she whispers out the side of her mouth, like the fish could hear her from forty feet below.

"Now when you set the hook, ya' jes' flick your wrist straight up, . . . BUT, you gotta' be sure there isn't any slack in the line, and jes' hand-over-hand them in!" she is really concentrating now, and I can just barely make out that her finger is actually moving.

"Now you kin' walk it along bottom in quick little sperts,. . . so it looks like your critter is trying to get away,. . . but only just about three inches, . . . and then let it settle for a couple of seconds between sperts!" she demonstrates while looking me in the eye.

I shy away and look to the back of the boat,. . . and see Walter is asleep! Evidently, if he isn't going to see Eudora's secret fly, . . . he isn't interested. (I hope he doesn't toss and turn in his sleep, or he will probably fall in, with his luck!)

"Now if ya' want to catch fish NOT on the bottom, ya' have to use a minnow/fly or some-such, as it looks to be swimming, and you don't do the walk on bottom of course, . . .you just swing back and forth about a foot, while you twitch yer' finger up and down as far as it will go." she grins while holding up a foot long perch she has snatched from the bottom.

I ask her why she only uses two pound, while Walt has four pound test line.

"Call me Dory young man, from now on!" she smiles nicely this time.

"When I learned this from my paw', he just had twisted line, like a chalk line, . . .with a heavy mono leader about three foot long, and I had something take a fish while I was bringing it up from bottom,. . . and it cut my hand bad, . . . and because I was holding the spool wrong, it yanked my arm out of the socket before paw' could cut the line!" she frowns angrily. "So if anything tries that now, all they get is a barbless fly, and some line before it breaks."

"Dory?" I mumble. "Would you like to get back at Walt - for that "Paul's fly" trick?" I ask while grinning.

"Tell him you want to read his palm or something, because he cut his hand bad recently using "Spider wire" fish line while trying to get Perch on a hand line, and then he lost the whole spool." I chuckle,. . . thinking about all of his stolen sandwiches.

"We'll save that one for later!" Dory whispers like a schoolgirl with a secret.

We wake Walt up with the roar of the motor starting, and we zoom off to the dock.

I had caught five jumbo Perch that I said I would fillet for her dinner as a thanks for teaching, with the reprimand to not forget her dozen flies to be sent to her.

She even let me look at her secret fly for fishing on bottom,. . . a crawdad weighted with lead, and having a brown raffia body wrap, with black horsehair legs, and claws. I had to swear not to tell her brother, (and with that promised!) she said I could return by myself and go fishing with her anytime,. . . and maybe she would even let me run the boat!

GULP! Oh, to be about eighty, and single,. . . what a setup!

I told her I knew of a way to troll a pair of flies through schools of fish using a depthfinder, and she said she would make me a batch of those Lady-locks that I could take home,only AFTER I proved that the trolling works!

The ride home was pretty quiet, because I didn't tell Walt that I saw Dory's secret fly.

He would have to work on that one on his own! ~ By the 44 year old "Kid" - John McBride

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