"Rediscovering" Old Patterns

Discussion in 'Fly Tying' started by Thom Collins, Jul 6, 2013.

  1. Thom Collins Active Member

    Posts: 204
    Kirkland, WA
    Ratings: +65 / 0
    Currious what really old patterns you guys still use or have just learned about.

    During an early season outing this year I was taking a beating by the skunk. Fishy looking fishable waters and nothing, not even a bump. Out of desperation I tied on a gold ribbed hare's ear. Hadn't fished one of these in years. It was the first fly that I ever caught a fish on and one of the first I ever learned to tie so, on it went. Didn't turn into the best day ever but it shook that skunk off.

    The next time out on the water it was the first fly out of the box and it caught fish. Today I had a chance to get out and I tried one with a slight addition, folded over partidge legs under the wing casing. It worked well.

    Did a little research and one source states it's one of the oldest flies ever. Don't know about that but the thing catches fish. No idea why I ever stopped using it and wonder what other ancient patterns I'm missing out on.
  2. Norm Frechette Active Member

    Posts: 606
    Norwich, CT
    Ratings: +78 / 0
  3. zen leecher aka bill w born to work, forced to fish

    Posts: 3,261
    Moses Lake, WA
    Ratings: +1,035 / 1
    I'm working on tying up some quill winged wet flies and will fish those later this summer. I suspect either they will work like gangbusters or I'll just have fun fishing them thru running water.
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  4. Jim Ficklin Genuine Montana Fossil

    Posts: 2,418
    Columbia Basin
    Ratings: +692 / 0
    Major Pitcher, Parmachene Belle, and Wickham's Fancy still produce on the North Fork of the Big Hole, as do several of the old Pott's patterns Sandy Mite being a perennial favorite. Even if they didn't produce, I'd be remiss if I didn't toss a few of them in memory of my Dad & Uncle.
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  5. Big E Moderator

    Posts: 1,431
    Coon Bay
    Ratings: +364 / 0
    Norm,
    I think the passage you quote may be a bit deceptive. Cotton did document quite a bit of imitative flies in the (I believe) 5th edition of the Compleat Angler. If memory serves me correct, I believe he was the first to do so. Most of the flies were tied with hackles and were associated with months or seasons.

    In "Ogden on Flytying", he describes a Hare's Ear Blue Dun:

    I dress it as follows : Hook No. 2
    is a good general size ; body, fur from the hare's ear
    spun on fine yellow silk ; three strands of a red cock's
    hackle for tails, and a tag of fine gold tinsel. For a
    change I use fine yellow silk only, well waxed, for the
    body ; wings taken from a starling wing feather. The
    wings should be broad and set on very upright, as it is
    the most butterfly-like little dun the angler will have to
    imitate. After setting on the wings, spin more hare's
    ear fur on the silk, and give two turns close up behind
    the wings, bringing it well forward underneath ; fasten
    off behind the wings, and pick out the dubbin to form
    the legs. For a variety, I rib the hare's ear body with
    fine gold tinsel or twist, and put on upright wings taken
    from a woodcock wing feather.

    Ogden notes that this fly is an excellent spring fly and is best fished sunk.

    Some years later, Halford in Dry Fly Entomology, gives the recipe for the Gold Rib Hare's Ear which is pretty much the same as Ogden's recipe.

    SECTION I.— OLIVE DUNS.
    No. 1.— Gold-ribbed Hare's Ear.
    Wings. —Medium or dark starling.
    Body. —Dark fur from hare's face ribbed with fine flat gold.
    Legs. —Dark fur from red.
    Hook. —000 to o.
    This pattern is placed first of the series as the most successful of modern times. From early spring to late autumn it is one of the most killing of all the duns, and is, besides, preeminently the fly to be recommended for bulging or tailing fish. It is probably taken for the sub-imago emerging from the larval envelope of the nymph just risen to the surface.

    In any event, it was good fun revisiting the tomes while having coffee this morning.
  6. Norm Frechette Active Member

    Posts: 606
    Norwich, CT
    Ratings: +78 / 0
    I don't see much difference between your quotes an the one I quoted. All three are wet flies with quill style wings not the gold ribbed hares ear NYMPH

    you would also have to argue the quote with Schwiebert but he's no longer with us
  7. Big E Moderator

    Posts: 1,431
    Coon Bay
    Ratings: +364 / 0
    I was just musing on the provenance of the GRHE not trying to be argumentative. My apologies if I came off that way.
  8. GAT Active Member

    Posts: 4,231
    Willamette Valley, OR
    Ratings: +2,704 / 0
    I never think of a GRHE as a traditional pattern. I use them all the time.... geezus, I'm older than I thought!:)
    FinLuver likes this.
  9. Jack Devlin Active Member

    Posts: 1,218
    Western Washington, Puget Sound area
    Ratings: +1,003 / 1
    I never "undiscovered" the Gold Ribbed Hare's Ear. Been fishin' it for 49 years. Probably the only nymph pattern you really need.:) Big, small, light, dark, weighted, unweighted.
    Personally, I like all the "old" patterns. I like tying with feathers, hair, and fur and am not overly fond of all the synthetics of today. The "old" patterns still catch fish. Heck, the fish don't know they (patterns) are old.
    Jack
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  10. GAT Active Member

    Posts: 4,231
    Willamette Valley, OR
    Ratings: +2,704 / 0
    No, the fish hold an annual convention to discuss what they no longer will attempt to eat. This is why the traditional patterns no longer work.
  11. Big E Moderator

    Posts: 1,431
    Coon Bay
    Ratings: +364 / 0
    Absolute twaddle.

    Everyone knows they discuss not what they won't eat but what 'presenters' to blacklist.
  12. Jack Devlin Active Member

    Posts: 1,218
    Western Washington, Puget Sound area
    Ratings: +1,003 / 1
    Preferences could be passed on genetically?:)
  13. Jack Devlin Active Member

    Posts: 1,218
    Western Washington, Puget Sound area
    Ratings: +1,003 / 1
    Hey Gene,
    Here's a cartoon idea for ya: Fish doing a google search on an I Pad checking to see if fly is old or new before he bites.???
    Jack
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  14. Thom Collins Active Member

    Posts: 204
    Kirkland, WA
    Ratings: +65 / 0
    Sad to say I had to google each one of these. I can so see me trying two of these for sure.

    Are the "old Pott's patterns" the creations from Franz Pott? Watched a video on weaving moose mane hackle, wow.
  15. Jim Ficklin Genuine Montana Fossil

    Posts: 2,418
    Columbia Basin
    Ratings: +692 / 0
    I believe so. Rather than weave my own hair hackle, I weave the body but leave the front portion of the hook bare. Then I spin the hair and groom it back to form the front of the fly. A few strands of horse tail & doubled rod-winding thread work well when creating the woven body; I prefer bear hair for the front end/"hackle." Have fun!
  16. Chad Lewis NEVER wonder what to do with your free time

    Posts: 885
    Mount Vernon, WA
    Ratings: +153 / 0
    Thom, good question. My newest old fly is the McGinty. Great bluegill fly. Thanks to Atomic Dog for that one.

    I fish a lot of soft hackles these days, usually as a dropper. I notice the dropper gets the nod most of the time. Of course soft hackles are some of the oldest style flies in existence. Makes my mind gooey thinking someone standing in a river three or four hundred years ago was doing exactly what I do, thinking about the exact same things, looking at the same fish and possibly the same scenery.
    Tony Abaloney likes this.
  17. GAT Active Member

    Posts: 4,231
    Willamette Valley, OR
    Ratings: +2,704 / 0
    Speaking of traditional, the latest issue of Fly Fisherman includes an article by Charlie Craven in regards to fly pattern proportions.... the GRHE is one of the examples used in the article. I know the traditional proportions for patterns and kind'a use them as a rule of thumb but as I tie fishing flies more than display patterns, I sometimes push the proportions envelope. ...I don't really think the fish give a ratz-ass about pattern proportions. At least I don't think they do...

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  18. Mark Mercer Member

    Posts: 1,146
    port orchard, wa
    Ratings: +516 / 0
    I some what agree Gene, except if you are tying a size 16 GRHE or a 18 BWO dry and you use larger then the correct size of materials you just end up with a size 12 or 14 fly tied on a size 16 or 18 hook, which kind of defeats the purpose of matching the size of something. Most of the time it probably doesn't matter as much with nymphs but I think it is a bigger problem with dries.....
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  19. GAT Active Member

    Posts: 4,231
    Willamette Valley, OR
    Ratings: +2,704 / 0
    I agree.
  20. Richard Olmstead BigDog

    Posts: 2,494
    Seattle, WA
    Ratings: +792 / 0
    Early last year I was talking with an acquaintance, who grew up years ago in southern Colorado, and he asked if I had ever heard of a fly called the "JH Special." He said it was THE fly for the Gunnison river 50 years ago, when he was a kid. I started a thread on this forum to see if anyone knew anything about it (http://www.washingtonflyfishing.com/forum/index.php?threads/jh-special.65827/), and, after a few months, someone discovered the thread and sent in a couple of pics of a fly from an old fly box from that era and from that part of Colorado.

    This spring I tied up a few and discovered on a western WA lowland lake that they work for coastal cutts.

    D

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