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?



By Eric Austin
Fly tied by Eric Austin

The details surrounding the origins of The Munro are murky at best. It appears to be of Canadian origin. Julius P. Bucke, of Sarnia, Ontario, Canada wrote the following letter to Mary Orvis Marbury concerning a cast of flies he liked to use:

"The cast I prefer for trout is the Fiery Brown, made by Trout & Son. Body, bright reddish mohair, ribbed with tinsel; hackle, bright dark red; tail, strands of golden-pheasant crest feather; wings, dark mallard.

I send you samples of the two others. They are tied by myself. One has been called the Munro; the original of it was found in a bush, on a stream emptying into Lake Superior, by a friend, who found it to work well, had it repeated at Toronto, and gave me one for a pattern. I have called it after him. Tail, red ibis and mallard, dyed yellow; hackle, yellow; body, bright green, ribbed with gold tinsel; wings, red ibis, covered with wild turkey. The other fly is the Lord Baltimore modified. These flies will catch trout, and so will others, but I always have had success with them, and feel confident and like going in to win when they are on the cast. Of course, I always like to have a general assortment of winged flies and hackles along, for, as a Spiritualist once observed during his lecture in this town, 'sometimes the spirits will work, and sometimes they won't; it depends upon the conditions.' Trout are fickle also."

The Munro evolved a bit between the late 1800s and the publication of Ray Bergman's Trout in 1938. The fly is generally the same, but the one in Bergman's book appears to have yellow mallard quill in the tail, while the one shown in Mary Orvis Marbury's book shows yellow mallard flank. I've done the Bergman version here.

Here's Bergman's recipe:

    Tip: Gold tinsel.

    Tail: Scarlet and yellow.

    Body: Green floss.

    Rib: Gold tinsel.

    Wing: Scarlet with brown turkey stripe.

    Hackle: Yellow.

~ Eric Austin

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

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