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?


The Blue Doctor

The Blue Doctor

By Eric Austin
Flies tied by Eric Austin


I was surprised to learn that the Blue Doctor was the first fly in the 'doctor series.' The doctor series of flies consists of the Blue Doctor, Silver Doctor, Black Doctor, Helmsdale Doctor, and the White Doctor. I'd always assumed that the original was the Silver Doctor, the most popular fly of the series, but no, it was the Blue. In fact, it's such an old fly that no one is really sure who originated it. Dr. James Wright was the first to dress the Black Doctor, and is credited with the Blue as well, but indications are that it may be of older origin.

As usual, there are many differing versions of the fly. The oldest version is from Francis Francis. It differs a bit from the one I've tied here in that the tail veiling is omitted, along with the golden pheasant tippet underwing. Beyond that, it's quite similar to the versions of Kelson, Hardy and Hale, and the one which I've used in my example from H. Jackson.

The Blue Doctor is indicated by Kelson as being one of the early, spectacular Tweed River flies, and is still thought of in those terms today. Sir Herbert Maxwell reported that "the Blue Doctor was said to be incapable of luring a salmon on the north Tyne river," but that he himself would only be too pleased to try. In other words, he liked the fly anyway.

Pryce-Tannat's version has golden pheasant tippet as the tail veiling. All versions show blue jay as the throat feather used, and I attempted to use jay myself. I came up "short" however, and I've added blue-dyed gallina instead of the jay. Here is H. Jackson of Dunfrie's recipe for the Blue Doctor, one that Taverner's Fly Tying for Salmon says is really the first, and the one I used to tie the fly shown:

    Tag: Silver tinsel, yellow silk.

    Tail: Gold pheasant crest and a Chatterer.

    Butt: Scarlet Berlin wool.

    Body: Light blue silk.

    Ribbing: Oval silver tinsel.

    Hackle: A light blue cock hackle from second turn.

    Throat: Jay or Gallina dyed light blue.

    Wing: Tippets in strands, light mottled Turkey, Swan dyed light blue and yellow, Ibis, Gold pheasant tail, Pintail, Summer duck, Gallina, Mallard, and a topping.

    Horns: Blue and yellow Macaw.

    Head: Scarlet wool.

~ Eric Austin

Credits: Classic Salmon Flies by Mikael Frodin; The Salmon Fly by George Kelson; Fly Tying for Salmon by Eric Taverner; www.Classicflies.net website, Wolfgang Von Molottke

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