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 . .

Part Thirty-seven


By Old Rupe

The best fly fishers I have observed were in general not obsessed with the tying act and tended to fish one or two flies in different colors and sizes. Al Campbell and his Schwarf, Patrick Heenan and his parachute Adams, George Wallace and his dace imitation, several with their elk hair caddis or prince nymph and so on.

They didn't spend a lot of time trying other flies, but sure did soak their favorite fly in water it complimented. They tended to fish a type of water that was conducive to their method of fishing even to the extent of ignoring good water that didn't fit the fly and the method. They weren't short sighted they just knew over the years what their best shot was and used it. The more versatile of the bunch used two general flies, one for fast water and one for slow water, both were usually wet or dry.

Some would admit when questioned over a brew that their choice of method and fly was, "just because I like to fish that way," but the bottom line was that fishing one fly and one method for 10-15 years tends to make one good at it no matter why it was fished.

So now you ask the 'why' of the observation. Well, if you want to really learn fly fishing, walk along with Al and his fly for a day (I did). Watch Patrick's parachute Adams act, learn how a streamer is really fished - a week with old Wallace will do it - maybe a day or two with an EHC and a long leader with old Rupe. Ron Koenig and his close-in dry act, maybe now you see it.

Watching a person that has honed his skills over the last five to ten years will give you something that the best video or book can't even attempt. It's too bad that there is no place that offers a series of in-depth looks at the various special techniques common to fly fishing. Remember it's the presentation that's the differentiating factor. All the dumb schools in the world can't compare to fishing with a ten-year expert for a day or two. Want to learn indicator nymph fishing? Watch the Heenan family act. The list is endless. When I hear "Well I only fish one way," or "I only use one fly," my ears perk up. Here is someone that has learned a type of presentation maybe unique only to him. A real find.

Presentationist are kind of hard to find. They are generally not seeking to learn from others as they already have the act they enjoy down. This may be to their detriment, but that's the way it is. They tend not to be joiners and at most will occasionally mentor a student, but that's a rare thing. Most can fish other methods but really don't like to so they generally don't. They don't hang around fly shops because the fly shop offers them little or nothing they don't already have. Since they only tie 1-2 types of flies, 5-6 materials and a few sizes of hooks flesh out their act. They already own all that is needed to present the fly. I have noticed that most tend to fish slower rods, maybe that's what they grew up with or maybe they fish closer in and those slow rods just do the close in thing better.

I saw an example of this recently. A much better caster was doing worse than I was because he was not fishing the close-in fish right. Presentationists generally never fish over a 20 foot cast and with some of us most of that will be leader. It's at least ten times as hard to fish the 40 foot cast as the 20 foot one. Patrick Heenan may be the exception on the short cast thing but he's young and when his reflexes and eyes go he will be there with the rest of us.

My wife likes an old Lamiglas rod I made 30 years ago. Why? Because she is not a great caster and can feel it load better. I have several better rods that she doesn't fish. Maybe I don't own enough old glass rods. I find its hard to beat the slower rod in close.

My favorite rod is the slowest graphite I own. So much for the high dollar rod act. I like them but in general fish my LL2 Sage.

I have tended to downgrade some rods because they were not as fast as others. I may have made an error. Presentation and how it fishes in close may be more important than how far it will cast. My next rod may be an Orvis rod. Not that it's "wimpy", but it may be a better presentation rod and suit my act better than some of the faster rods designed to fish farther than I can throw a rock. I don't fish at those rock throwing distances so maybe I should buy a rod designed to fish where I do. Sage has several and I have tried a T&T that would fit the bill.

Fish one method and one or two flies in close with a slower rod and GLOAT. . . ~ Old Rupe

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