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 today's 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?


By Eric Austin, Ohio

It's back to the Rangeley Region of Maine this week, to a fly called the Allerton, named for R.G. Allerton. Mr. Allerton owned one of the first large lodges built on Mooselucmaguntic. He was treasurer of the Oquossoc Angling Association, and the following was written about him in Outing Magazine in 1886:

"In eight years, from 1869 to 1876, Mr. R. G. Allerton, the late owner of Allerton's Lodge, a mile or so above Camp Bemis, took 1,336, trout, weighing 1,623 pounds. The majority of these were caught, I believe, by deep fishing with bait. This is largely a question of patience. Your guide rows you to the spots in the deep water where he deems the trout most likely to lie during the hot weather. There you wait, fishing perhaps for a couple of days without a bite, to be finally rewarded by a few large fish. "

In case you don't completely believe these statistics, I found them broken down year by year in a Scribner's Magazine article from 1877:

Allerton's Catches

Here is a sketch of Camp Allerton as it existed in the early days:


Allerton's fly is interesting to me, and I would guess that he was perhaps trying to cover a couple of bases with its design. I've always wondered about all the blue flies from this era, but I realize now that they were a response to the blueback trout, forage fish for the large brook trout found in the Rangeley lakes. The red fin on this fly may have been put there to fuel the cannibalistic tendencies of the brook trout. Sort of a "two mints in one" approach to fly design, as I see it. In any case, the fly was no doubt successful judging by R. G. Allerton's results. Here is the recipe:


    Tip: Gold tinsel

    Tail: Teal or barred wood duck

    Ribbing: Gold tinsel

    Body: Yellow floss

    Hackle: Dark blue tied palmer, yellow at shoulder

    Wing: Scarlet

    Note: Ray Bergman leaves out the yellow shoulder hackle in this fly. J. Edson Leonard includes it. In the Mary Orvis Marbury book it doesn't seem to be there, though it's a little hard to say for sure.

Credits: Trout-Fishing in the Rangeley Lakes by Edward Seymour, article from Scribner's Monthly Vol. XIII. February, 1877 No. 4; Richardson and Rangeley Lakes Illustrated by Charles A. J. Farrar; Flies by J. Edson Leonard; Trout by Ray Bergman; Favorite Flies and Their Histories by Mary Orvis Marbury; Outing Volume Vlll Issue 3 June 1886 "Trout Fishing In Maine" by Ripley Hitchcock; ~ 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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