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?


Hair-wing Royal Coachman

Compiled by Steven H. McGarthwaite
Tie shown is author's variant


The Hair-wing Royal Coachman is sometimes referred to as the Wulff Royal Coachman, or the Royal Wulff. Lee Wulff did not create the Hair-wing Royal Coachman and had no influence in its creation. Lee created the Gray Wulff and White Wulff during his stay in the Adirondacks during 1929.

A member of the Beaverkill Trout Club, located in the Catskills, created the The Hair-wing Royal Coachman in 1930. The two Wulff dry flies and the Hair-wing Royal Coachman just happened by coincidence at the same time and near each other.

As a matter of record, the Hair-wing Royal Coachman was created by Q. L. Quackenbush, one of the early members of the Beaverkill Trout Club above Lew Beach, NY. Q. L. loved the fan-winged Royal Coachman, but the fly's wings were very fragile.

Q. L. Quackenbush asked Reuben Cross of Neversink, New York to dress some Royal Coachmen using a substitute for the fragile white mandarin (duck) fan wings. Ruben asked his supplier for any part of an animal with stiff, kinky, white hair. All the supplier could find was some impala tails, that exactly suited the task.

Originally the members of the Beaverkill Trout Club called the fly The Quack Coachman, for it was created and tied for Q. L., better known to his friends as 'Quack.'

The Quack Coachman is a very effective fly on the water and is a must for any dry fly box. I find the fly is best tied in larger sizes of 8, 10, and 12. Anything smaller than a 12 is hard to tie and rates a Level 5 difficulty rating, using my PPP (Parnelli's Pain in the Posterior) Index Scale.

The Quack Coachman is tied:

    Hook: TMC 100, sizes 8, 10,12.

    Thread: Black, Pearsall's Gossamer Silk.

    Wing: White Calf-tail, split and posted.

    Tail: Coachman Brown Barbs, or Golden Pheasant Tippet (shown).

    Body: Peacock Herl, with center portion using Red Pearsall's Gossamer Silk.

    Hackle: Coachman Brown, Rooster Cape.

Credits: from Fly Patterns and Their Origins by Harold Hinsdill Smedley 1942, from Trout by Ernest Schwieber, 1978, from The Practical Fly Fisherman by A. J. McClane, 1953; an last by not least, Reed F. Curry's www.overmywaders.com article "The Curious History of the Quack Coachman."

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