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 Hoskins

By Eric Austin

This pretty little trout fly originally had a tail. The Mary Orvis Marbury version, found in Favorite Flies and Their Histories, had a tail made from golden pheasant crest, and the wings were a bit different as well. She says this about the early construction of the fly:

"The Hoskins, named after a gentleman living in western New York, well known as a successful angler, is a fly greatly depended upon by those accustomed to using it. The wings should be hyaline [translucent] and very slightly mottled; the tail, or stylets, of genuine golden-pheasant crest, not a dyed feather; and the hackle a true dun: these, with the delicate yellow body, make a most desirable combination, resembling some of the drakes or Ephemeroptera."
By the time of Ray Bergman's book Trout in 1938, the fly was simplified a great deal. The mottled wing, which looks like mallard flank in Marbury's book, is replaced with light slate mallard quill, and the tail is gone. There is no longer a tag on the fly, which can make the construction a bit dicey. What can happen to floss bodies with no tag is that the floss can "drift" back over the rear of the fly when it's fished or played with at all, especially if the floss is wound the traditional way, from the front, backwards, then forwards.

What I did to solve this problem is tie a length of floss in where the tail would normally be. I then did an underbody with another piece of floss, building a taper, finally winding my floss tied at the tail forward over the underbody at the very last. This keeps everything in place.

I think this fly would perform beautifully as an emerger today, if tied in small sizes. Its great simplicity proves the effective fly doesn't have to be complicated. Here's Ray Bergman's recipe:

The Hoskins:

    Body: Yellow floss.

    Hackle: Gray.

    Wing: Light slate.

~ Eric Austin

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

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