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 Golden Rod

By Eric Austin, Ohio

There appears to be little or no information regarding this fly which appears in Mary Orvis Marbury's book Favorite Flies and Their Histories. She has this to say:

"We cannot ascertain who is responsible for the Golden Rod. It is popular for Maine, and whoever named it may have had in mind a pretty little story the scene of which is laid at Mount Desert, in that State, and added to the fame and romance of that picturesque summer resort."

Mt. Desert is an Island off the coast of Maine that contains Acadia National Park, which in turn features many freshwater lakes and ponds. Acadia is the former French colony in North America that encompassed present-day New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and parts of Quebec and New England.

This fly certainly would be considered a lake fly assuming that association. Famed Bar Harbor is also located on the Island, and is the better known tourist Mecca these days. I can't speculate as to the story Mary references; it quite possibly has been lost to history as the originator of this fly has been. I've done a little bit of research on-line, and can't find any references to fresh water fishing on the island, though I would imagine there must be some.

The Golden Rod is not mentioned as a favorite by any of the Maine fly fishers who wrote Mary. That said, it is a lovely fly, and uses Ring Neck pheasant feathers and Jungle Cock body feathers to great effect. Here is the recipe:

The Golden Rod

    Tip: Gold tinsel

    Tail: Scarlet goose

    Butt: Black ostrich

    Rib: Gold tinsel

    Body: Orange dubbing, picked out

    Wing: Cock pheasant brown body feather, (mottled)

    Shoulder: Jungle cock body feather

    Hackle: Orange ~ Eric Austin

    About Eric:

    I started fly fishing as a teen in and around my hometown of Plattsburgh, New York, primarily on the Saranac River. I started tying flies almost immediately and spent hours with library books written by Ray Bergman, Art Lee, and A. J. McClane. Almost from the beginning I liked tying just as much as I liked fishing and spent considerable time at the vise creating hideous monstrosities that somehow caught fish anyway. Then one day I came upon a group of flies that had been put out at a local drug store that had been tied by Francis Betters of Wilmington, N.Y. My life changed that day and so did my flies, dramatically. Even though I never met Fran back then, I've always considered him to be one of my biggest influences.

    I had a career in music for twenty years or so and didn't fish much, though I did fish at times. The band I was with had its fifteen seconds of fame when we were asked to be in John Mellencamp's movie "Falling From Grace." I am the keyboard player on the right in the country club scene in the middle of the movie. Don't blink. It's on HBO all the time. We got to meet big Hollywood stars and record in John's studio. It was a blast.

    So how did I wind up contributing to the Just Old Flies column on FAOL? I'm not sure, it was something that I simply wanted very badly to do, and they let me. Many of the old flies take me back to the Adirondacs and my youth, and I guess I get to relive some of it through the column. I've spent many happy hours fishing and tying over the years, and tying these flies brings back memories of great days on the water, and intense hours spent looking at the flies in the fly plates in the old books and trying to get my flies to look like them. And now, here I am, still doing that to this day. ~ EA

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