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?


Olive Sedge

Complied by Deanna Birkholm


Like Bill Nation, the demigod of interior lake fly fishers, Tom Brayshaw, amongst many other talents, was an observer of nature and a master fly dresser. This is a necessary combination if one is to produce flies representative of specific insects that work. Brayshaw produced numerous sedge patterns and he fished the interior lakes in the golden years - the 1920s and 1930s, when fish of 8 to 10 pounds and larger abounded and came to a properly presented dry fly.

A Knouff Lake [British Columbia, Canada] fly fisher, Brayshaw would often lend a helping hand to anglers he met on the lake. Typical of his generosity and its result was shown when, on July 3, 1932, after examining the fly box of an aspiring Vancouver anglers, "who had no suitable flies," Brayshaw gave him one of his Olive Sedges and "he later got a 3 1/2 lb. fish on it, the only one he got."

Knouff Lake fishermen such as Tom Brayshaw and Bryan Williams produced numerous dry fly patterns to catch Knouff's large trout. Typical of Brayshaw's sedges is the palmered hackle, the first that I have come across for British Columbian developed dry flies.

One of British Columbia's largest stillwater dry-fly caught trout, and 17 1/4 pound monster, on a dry sedge, came from Knouff Lake. There is some confusion, however, about the date of this feat: Steve Raymond in Kamloops (1971) records the year as 1930, Haig-Brown in The Western Angler (1939) gives 1930 in his text, but the accompanying photograph shows E.L. Hodgson holding the fish, and the caption states 1932. The day this great event occurred, June 12, 1932, four Hodgsons were at the lake but Brayshaw too was there. About the Sunday afternoon fishing Brayshaw had this to say:

Later I got one of 2 pounds 7 ounces on a dry sedge and had quite a few rises. Mrs. P[hillips] lost a big one (10 pounds or more) on Pazooka . . .After lunch I tried Pazooka in almost flat calm and had a fish on at once but lost it after a few jumps. At a quarter to 2 Eldred [Hodgson] had come to Cape Horn . . .Just as the breeze died away he hooked a big one which showed several time and jumped quite a bit. I got up anchor to take him a gaff and stand by. Ten minutes later I netted it - a female 17 1/4 pounds 34 1/4" long and 19" in girth. Slight rainbow stripe.

We do know that this fish took a dry fly and, reference to the capture of this 17 1/4 pounder is given in the text of William's Grey-Bodies Sedge found later in this volume. Because Brayshaw was there that day and fishing dry fly with his own sedge patterns and documented the event, I believe this is an appropriate place to record this piece of British Columbia's fly fishing history.

Recipe Olive Sedge

Hook:  Number 8 or 9.

Tag:  Flat, gold tinsel.

Body:  Dark olive-green seal's fur.

Rib:  Black floss.

Body Hackle:  An olive hackle feather.

Wing:  Bronze mallard.

Hackle:  An olive hackle feather.

Originator:  Tom Brayshaw.

Intended Use: Dry fly for rainbow trout.

Location:  Knouff Lake [British Columbia].

Credit: From Fly Patterns of British Columbia, by Arthur James Lingren, published by Frank Amato Publications. We thank them for use permission.

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