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 Lascelles


By Eric Austin, Ohio


I don't have much information on this week's old fly. All I have comes from Francis Francis' A Book on Angling. He mentions that the fly is from "Farlow's", (a very famous British Fly Shop) but doesn't actually attribute the creation of the fly to them. The fly is included in the book in a section on the Scottish river Laxford, along with one other fly, surprisingly enough, the Laxford.

Francis Francis goes into a little discussion concerning the color of the hackle on this fly, referring to it as "claretty brown". He goes on to say "this, as in the case of No. 4 in the Lochy list, is what I consider fiery brown, only I fear the fate of poor Martin Kelly if I attempt to decide this awful shade of mystery." I'm not sure what happened to Martin Kelly here, who apparently attempted to define fiery brown and was at the very least castigated and ridiculed for his attempt, and at worse, hung. There has been considerable rancor generated over the years concerning this shade. I bowed out of the debate completely with my fly, and mixed claret and brown hackle, resulting in a nice "claretty brown," and avoided the whole fiery brown controversy all together.

There is a section of the recipe that is unclear to me, and it concerns the under wing, which consists of "a gold pheasant rump and a saddle feather." The golden pheasant rump feather is no problem, there are lots of cool feathers around the rump of the pheasant that range from yellow to orange to fiery red (I didn't say fiery brown, I said fiery red). I went with a fiery red one, and a matching saddle hackle from a chicken. I probably, on re-reading this, should have done a "gold," and maybe a matching hackle, I don't know. Too late now I'm afraid, maybe next time I'll do the gold. The color of the saddle is not specified anyway, so you can use some artistic license here. Mine was recently confiscated at a gala, as it had expired.

One other small change I made here, which was I think an effective one, was to substitute Kenya Crested Guinea for the "good slice of gallina." It worked really nicely for the topping, or roof of the fly in this case, as I was able to use it just as I would have used bronze mallard in another fly. The Keny Crested Guinea really stays together in this application, and I like the look. Here's the recipe for the Lascelles:

The Lascelles

    Tag: Silver twist, and lemon-yellow floss.

    Tail: A topping, teal and some blue macaw sprigs.

    Butt: Black ostrich herl.

    Body: Half lemon-yellow floss, and half pig's wool of the same colour(sic) as in the Colonel.

    Hackle: Claretty brown.

    Shoulder [throat]: Speckled gallina .

    Wing: A gold pheasant rump and a saddle feather, sprigs of gold pheasant tail, and florican, yellow and blue sprigs, with a few fibres of gold pheasant sword feather, over all a good slice of gallina.

    Head: Black.

Credits: A Book on Angling by Francis Francis. ~ EA

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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