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-five

Just One Trout

By Old Rupe

I used to try to impress everyone with how many trout I could catch in a days time. I learned early on an aggressive fly fisher will always catch more fish than the person who methodically explores every spot a trout might hold in. Sure the aggressive fisher missed 80% of the trout present, but in the course of fishing three to four miles of river he'll pass the fly over enough of those high percentage "takers" that at the end of the day, if he kept what he caught, it would look like the local trout clubs total weekend catch.

In fact I would wear the bottoms off one or two pair of waders a year. If three miles is good then five miles is better. Just hit the high percentage spots and fish the water. Without a hatch that's the way to go. Since I knew my rivers fairly well I could generally predict where the hatches would be and I spent the day going from hatch to hatch.

I even carried a set of good binoculars with me so I could "glass" the stretch for risers and not waste time waiting on the non-existent hatch to materialize.

Note the sweepers on both sides of the stream

I never removed my waders. When conditions precluded a hatch I'd fish a streamer tight against the bank. Five miles of water with a streamer in the sweepers always produced. Sweepers are a local Michigan name for those assorted cypress and pines that fall in the river and provide one with the unique experience of watching big fish eat little mayflies ten feet back in the tree. In most cases dynamite would not touch them. I've seen grown men cry watching those monsters feed, usually the only fish rising on the entire river. No wonder I resorted to using pruning shears on selected trees. I had a little foam caddy that would handle 4 rods and hold six beers and assorted flies and lunch. I got the idea from watching golf on Sunday. On a walk in guide trip I would work downstream and hand the client a rigged rod. Try that streamer there, that dry next to the log and let's do a nymph in the deep run against the bank. I was really a caddy with four rigged rods. I even had a live well built into the thing.

My whole act has changed. I haven't guided for years and since I can hardly drive five miles of river in my truck, let alone walk it. I have modified my game. The emphasis is on a nice day on the water. I sometimes fish a 30 foot area all day, working every fish that rises. In between times I just look at nature. Old men don't impress anyone, and rarely hurt the fish population. One of the things I most enjoy is working a "sleeper." That's a fish which holds in a spot where its really hard to present a fly to him. I have forgotten many if not most of the fish I've caught over the years but not the "sleepers." If I can coax one of these bad boys out then my day is made. Most of the throws which get these trophies are lucky casts, not the result of any acquired skills or learning. Sometimes it takes weeks to get him. Some I never have.

I will never forget meeting a younger version of myself on a stream a couple of years ago. I had just caught a fish that I had worked days on. When I responded to his question of, "How are you doing?" I knew he didn't understand. It may be thirty years before he understands my answer. "Just one trout," I replied. ~ Old Rupe

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