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 Telephone Box

Telephone Box
By Eric Austin, Ohio

I found this fly with the charming name in Trout by Ray Bergman and right away noticed that Bergman credits the fly to his friend and illustrator Dr. Burke. As you may know, Dr. Burke did individual paintings of all 433 wet flies shown in the book, as well as all the dry flies, streamers, etc. It is due to the meticulous work of this artist that we have a visual record today of so many flies that might have otherwise been lost to history.

Many of the old fly tying books had illustrations rather than photos, as the photos of the day were limited to black and white. Dr. Burke does an amazing job of rendering the exact materials used in the flies, to the point that after familiarizing yourself with the style, you can identify all the materials used in a fly simply by looking at his illustrations. The only materials not done exactly are the tinsels, the shiny gold and silver not translating to the medium he was using very well. The flies are shown in exact proportion, with even little details like palmered hackle sticking up through the wings shown clearly.

Unhappily, Dr. Burke's fly did not stand the test of time. It is not found in J. Edson Leonard's Flies, nor does it appear to surface anywhere else that I can find. The fly named for him, Dr. Burke, shown below, also disappears over time, but his legacy lives on through the marvelous illustrations in Trout.

Here are the recipes for both the Telephone Box and Dr. Burke, should you want to try your hand.

Telephone Box:

    Tail: Golden pheasant tippet

    Tag: Peacock herl

    Ribbing: Black thread

    Body: Orange floss

    Hackle: Brown hen

    Wing: Brown turkey

Dr. Burke:

    Tail: Peacock sword

    Ribbing: Silver tinsel

    Body: Flat silver tinsel

    Hackle: Yellow hen

    Wing: White

Credits: Trout by Ray Bergman ~ EA

About Eric:

Eric Eric lives in Delaware, Ohio and fishes for brown trout in the Mad River, a beautiful spring creek. More of his flies are on display here:
traditionalflies.com -- Classic salmon and trout flies of Europe and the Americas

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