Welcome to Just Old Flies

Welcome to 'just old flies,' a section of 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.

Most books, and yes, even we here, bring 'new and improved' designs; however, in days long gone, fish readily accepted these creations; 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. Perhaps you will enjoy them. Perhaps you will fish them. Perhaps . . .


Part Nine

The Collection

By "Old Rupe"
Photos by Jim Birkholm


Several years ago - about 15 really - I stopped into a pawn shop in Dayton, Ohio. In the junk rod pile I spotted a pre-fire Leonard Tournament 5 wt. The wraps were bad but for 25 dollars why not? I asked the owner about the rod and he said rod, reels, ( Cortland,) and flies and leader box came in on same deal. The owner was anxious to unload the whole lot and priced it cheap $50 dollars for it all.

I bought the rod and leader box and left and spent the day thinking about the man that had owned the collection.

I returned and bought the flies.

The Collection

Here was a man that was a serious fly fisher. In those days a Leonard didn't come cheap. The flies had great hackle-and showed an appreciation of the fly tying craft way ahead of the time. The flies looked to have been tied in the early 50's. Deer hair nymphs have not been tied for 50 years.

This was a man that had devoted a considerable portion of his life to the sport. The rod was a class act. The flies were as good as any today and the reels were a class act then.

I bought the lot. Why did I buy the flies?

I tie all I use but there was more to it than a rod and flies. Here was the leavings of a good - maybe great fly fisher - he had to be dead or he wouldn't have parted with his Leonard. The rod looked as if kids had fished blue gills with it. The flies were untouched. The gut leader box had early nylon in it. I guess he really couldn't change, even after gut was gone that's the way he kept his leaders, moist in a leader box like he had for the last 50 years.

Why did this collection have such an effect on my life? And it sure did.

I see my stuff in the future there. In a pawn shop, not appreciated. My rods, probably my Leonard, my Gatti and Sage rods. My good reels, even some of the high dollar ones, sold to those that will never appreciate them. My family has no appreciation of my stuff. My flies and reels and rods will go to the bait fishermen.

I bought the collection not for the value but because I couldn't stand to see it in the hands of someone that would not appreciate it. My rods and reels books and tying stuff will go the same route I know. A super garage sale. Limited edition books, high dollar rods and reels, and decent flies, all for 20 dollars. Just like the pawn shop stuff.

Dust in the wind. Old Rupe


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