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 Sixty-four

It's Catalog Time

By Old Rupe


In the last five days I've received catalogs from everyone that ever tied a fly or sold a rod to a fly fisher. Each year I'm amazed. I see rods and reels made by everyone except my neighbor, who promised me he wouldn't get into the fly fishing act.

Now don't get me wrong, I do appreciate receiving them. I use them as visual pattern books that reflect what is currently being tied in The United States, some of which are rather strange. I see ties that go for $9-20 each that purport to being "fishing flies." I think we have missed something here. If the ties were promoted as a work of art, which they surely are, then I could understand it. A fly which one mean old trout could ruin is way out of my grasp as a fly fisherman, especially if it costs $20 each. I can see that Fosters Lager is under valued in this market.

I see a selection of reels that amazes me. Five years ago there were three to four quality reels, now there must be fifty or sixty. In truth those that were present then still serve me well. I don't fish on the cutting edge, neither do most that I know. When was the last time you lost 100 yards of line to a big fish on your stream? If you ever did I don't even want to talk to you. You are obviously either a liar or are supremely blessed and shouldn't converse with mere mortals.

Please invite Old rupe to those one-hundred-yard events. I'll be good and will sleep in my truck and behave. I tie a fair fly and in this event will even provide ribs and drinks (Fosters Lager).

Each year I see waders that cost more than my first car. I have to wonder about that. I still use the Orvis one-hundred-dollar-boot-foot wader, which never seem to leak. I guess I'll never be cutting edge.

I see leader acts that just won't play in my stream. Here it's a long leader and 6 foot tippets, I couldn't even do panfish with seven foot leaders. How do these people fish the short leaders that they do? I may have to take a class or two. I can see it now, "Absolute and the short leader thing." Maybe I'll make a video. "Short leaders, big flies and ugly girls," it may be the defining fly fishing thing of the millennium. Dame Juliana look out, cloister the young honeys, and never forget that God loves mediocre fishermen. He made so many of us. Such is life.

There seems to be more toys to separate us from our Master Card payments than ever before. I have at least 15 catalogs that have more useless things than a mule could carry. Dave, my fishing friend, once said that in the future we should restrict ourselves to a box that we could carry in our shirt pocket. I see the value of this bit of wisdom. It seems that I carry a ten pound pack and only fish a four to five fly selection each day. They all seem to be Troth Elk Hair Caddis ties in 16-18 sizes. It seems that Ron and Dave can fit their fly selections into an Altoids Tin. I must be missing something.

I have opened a bottle of Jose Cuervo and in the course of evaluating life, have cut my fly selection to 15 flies. They are the same 15 or so flies that I have always used. They are Troth Elk Hair Caddis in 16-18 sizes.

When I can no longer catch a trout with these flies then I might as well quit the game.

I don't think I'll ever fish a $20 fly. Even if I tie the fly I won't fish something that requires a two to three hour effort at the vise.

I will never forget the remark I heard in a fly shop in Columbus Ohio. A customer had tied a mantis tie that even had mouth parts and spurs on its feet. A simply marvelous tie. An impartial observer, a fisherman and tier had some remarks. Maybe he was more enlightened than most. He said, "There's an example of someone with too much time on his hands."

I have never forgotten his words. I hope no one ever says the same of my flies.

When my flies are no longer perceived to be fish catching things then I may as well give up making them.

Maybe catalog makers should re-evaluate their selection. A nine-dollar fly should be looked at like a five-hundred-dollar call girl. A pretty thing but something I wouldn't use. ~ Old Rupe

PS: I think I'll still sneak a large box of soft hackles in my pocket. There is a Peanuts character that has his blanket, and there is a fly fishing character that has his soft hackles and a can of Fosters Lager. Security is just a point of view.

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