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?

Grizzly King

Compiled by Deanna Birkholm
Flies tied by Eric Austin

"The Grizzly King was a pattern by Professor James Wilson, brother of John Wilson [creator of the Professor fly]. In Rod and Gun, 1840, he describes his fly as:
"The Grizzly King is a hackle par excellence. They call him Coomberland in the northern parts of merry England. His wings are broad and burly, formed of any undyed feather, bearing narrow natural bars of black and white, and he bristles with many stripes from head to heel, his dark green body being wound about with gray or mottled hackle, and terminated by a fiery tail, turned up in what naturalists call an ensiform manner - that is, somewhat after the fashion of a sword."

"What seems his head,
The likeness of a kingly crown has on."

It is believe to have been tied in imitation of the dark green drake.

A present day tying compared to the Morman Girl discloses only a different colored body."

Grizzly King

    Tail:   Red.

    Body:   Green - gold rib.

    Wing:   Mallard breast.

    Hackle:   Plymouth Rock palmered.

About 1820 James Wilson was reputed "'the best trout angler with the fly in Europe.'"

The 'wet fly' version, or fishing version of the Grizzly King is below.

Publisher's Note: As is common in researching old flies, there are many versions of the 'original' recipe. The version Eric used is the Ray Bergman tie.


Credits: Text and recipe from Fly Patterns and Their Origins by Harold Hinsdill Smedley. Flies tied by Eric Austin. Color photo by James Birkholm.

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