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?

Lunn's Particular

Compiled by Deanna Birkholm
Fly tied by Luca Montanari

"This fly was the favorite of William James Lunn, about whom the book River Keeper was written by John Waller Hills in 1934. At that time Lunn had been a "river keeper" on the Test for forty-seven years and had been tying flies eighteen years.

It was in 1917, when the River Keeper was fishing with a Mr. Gilbey, of London Gin fame, on Park Stream, fishing was poor, and Mr. Gilbey complained to Lunn, "The trout are too particular today." Lunn gave him a new fly which immediately took three trout. On inquiry from Gilbey, "What's this fly?", the reply was: "It's Lunn's Particular."

"Particular" in England is sort of slang expression meaning "particular favorite" and is applied, usually to liquor. "A pint of Mr. Jones' particular," the bar girl will call out, meaning Mr. Jones' favorite beer, which he always calls for. There are, or were, a number of English brands of ale or liquor which used the work "particular" as part of their name - "Burton's Particular", or something like that, implying that this tipple was the "particular" favorite of many drinkers.

So Lunn was really making a little joke when he told Gilbey, a liquor distiller, that this fly was his "particular."

It is rated by Hills as Lunn's best fly, even better than his Houghton Ruby. This name is after the Houghton Fishing Club, formed in 1822, where Lunn was keeper. Both of these flies of Rhode Island coloration. The dressing of Lunn's Particular is:

    Body: Undyed hackle stalk of Rhode Island cock hackle.

    Wing: Two flat medium blue cock hackle points, put on flat.

    Tail: Four fibres of Rhode Island from large hackles.

As compared to Halford's correct imitations, Lunn tied his to please the fish, and the ties had the appearance of studied carelessness, being loosely dressed and indefinite in shape. Lunn had forty patterns, sixteen winged, thirteen hackle, seven spent spinners and four nymphs, showing the growing preference for hackled patterns.

Mr. Hills also wrote A History of Fly Fishing. ~ DLB

Credits: Text and recipe from Fly Patterns and Their Origins by Harold Hinsdill Smedley.

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