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?

King of the Woods

King of the Woods

By Eric Austin
Flies tied by Eric Austin

Aside from having a name that evokes the North Woods, and is companion to the well known "Queen of the Waters," this fly has one outstanding characteristic. It is diabolically difficult to tie. I took a break from wet flies after trying repeatedly to tie this pretty thing, each effort ending in near total failure. The married wing is the problem, consisting of two shades of mallard with red goose. Marrying mallard to mallard will put your nerve, resolve, fortitude, patience, and level of sheer insanity to the test. The insanity thing I've got down, and after tying about 30 full dress flies over a period of a couple of months to get warmed up, I finally managed to tie this fly. Now I can get on with my life.

A couple of tricks to tying this have to do with the materials. First off, don't try to get a perfect version of the King of the Woods in, say, a size 14. Size 6 is a good size. Much smaller and the mallard just won't stay together. You can tie it smaller, the mallard will just be all over the place. The other thing is to simply have the right mallard. I started with a whole duck, and still couldn't find pieces where the curves matched well enough. I finally resorted to mallard sold by salmon fly material vendors, like Ronn Lucas. Salmon fly mallard is usually the cream of the crop, not as curvy, very large feathers with lots of web, and this helps the slip stay together. Above and beyond these tricks, perseverance is everything.

Mr. A.N. Cheney, of Glens Falls, N.Y., brought this fly to the attention of Mary Orvis Marbury. He is best known for the fly "The Cheney," surprisingly enough, and was editor of the fishing department of Shooting and Fishing, an outdoor periodical of the day. The King of the Woods was of unknown origin, but was highly though of by guides in northern N.Y., and they called it King of the Woods, a backhanded reference to the "Queen of the Waters." This fly is included with the lake flies in Mary Orvis Marbury's book, Favorite Flies and their Histories. The fly did not appear to retain its popularity, as it was not included in Ray Bergman's comprehensive collection of wet flies found in his book from 1938, Trout.

Here is the recipe for The King of the Woods:

    Tag: Gold Tinsel.

    Tail: Scarlet and yellow goose.

    Body: Yellow floss.

    Rib: Gold Tinsel.

    Wing: Pale mallard, (bottom) married to brown mallard, red strips top each side.

    Hackle: Dark green.

~ Eric Austin

Credits: Favorite Flies and Their Histories by Mary Orvis Marbury; Trout by Ray Bergman.

Archive of Old Flies

[ HOME ]

[ Search ] [ Contact FAOL ] [ Media Kit ]

FlyAnglersOnline.com © Notice