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?


Piscatorial Poaching Ploy's
From Across the Pond

By Steve Sheppard, UK


Let me take you back to 18th century England a place of those who have it, Land owners, Noblemen, and the Gentleman traders, and those who have not; the Peasant farmers, Tradesmen, and Labourers.

Angling was not a sport for the 'have not' population; more a means of putting food on the table. As most of the land, rivers, and lakes, belonged to those who have, practising the art was illegal and termed poaching if done by the 'have nots'.

Let's put ourselves in the poacher's shoes. We would need a moonlit night as we would be walking through forest and undergrowth that may hide man-traps and trip wires. We would be carrying rod and line, plus tackle that would make moving quietly awkward, and if the moon gave us light to see, it also gave the gamekeeper and his bullies light to see us. If we were caught we would certainly be in for a beating and with a chance of deportation or even a date with the gallows.

So poaching was a serious business, the ingenuity of the human spirit however seems to rise to a challenge and so it was in this case.

It is not clear who devised the Belly Pirn but I would guess it was some wily old villain in a bawdy run down tavern somewhere who had suffered a few beatings at the hands of the local squire's henchmen.

The Belly Pirn was a large drum reel mounted on a stout leather belt worn around the waist. This gave the poacher freedom from a cumbersome rod. Bait could be carried in coat pockets making the walk to the water quieter and easier with hands free, and more chance of dodging the keeper and friends.

Once at the waters edge the job of poaching could begin. The line was cast out by hand and worked slowly through the clear stream reflecting the moons light in eerie shadows around the dark wood; any catch despatched quickly into concealed cavernous coat pockets.

"What's that?" Dogs and voices moving through the night coming this way, quickly reel in the line, button up the coat and move off as quietly as possible to make your escape.

Once on the road, safe, no tackle left on the bank to say you had been there, just an innocent fellow walking to the tavern for his supper, coat buttoned against the cold wondering what all the commotion is by the river.

When asked, "Hey you! Have you seen anyone with fish or tackle running on this road," you can honestly, well with a twinkle in your eye, say "no mate, I am just off for my supper," and think to yourself, with a brace of fresh trout in your pocket, "and boy am I going to enjoy it."

What better, after a hard stressful day, of doing the modern day demands of that timeless necessity of putting food on the table. Than relax with a mug of your favourite brew sitting on a Belly Pirn coaster which reflects anglings rich and varied history and wondering at the cunning and ingenuity of those long past poachers. ~ Steve Sheppard, UK

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