Birds Stone Fly

The Birds Stone Fly was created by Cal Bird and is this week’s Throw Back Thursday Fly.

Cal Bird had a small fly shop in San Francisco in the 1940s and 50s. At least that’s what my quick Internet search found. An interesting side note is he lived across the street from Frank Matarelli. Does that name sound familiar? If you are a fly tyer, you might be using one of his bobbins…very popular. In addition, many fly tyers utilize a Cal Bird dubbing tool – a hook to help in the dubbing loop process. 

The Birds Stone Fly was invented somewhere around 1960, give or take a few years. I found the pattern in Randall Kaufmann’s American Nymph Fly Tying Manual in the 1970’s and fished it in the Metolius River…and caught fish. It really made a believer out of me. I’ve made it a variant by changing the original pattern which used a turkey quill for the wing case. It worked, but I changed it over the years to use peacock herl. Yes, both wing cases are fragile, but somehow it worked for me. 

This is a really old fly I tied many years ago. That would be a few hundred dozen ago.

Birds Stone Fly |

 Another popular fly was the Birds Nest. Perhaps you’ll see it in a future post…


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Throw Back Thursday Flies

Have you ever heard the term “throw back Thursday”? Seems to be fairly common on Facebook these days. So, several weeks ago I decided to start my own version. I call it Throw Back Thursday Flies.

What does that mean, you ask? Good question. I post pictures of old flies along with some history of the fly. Old is the key word here. But it’s relative.

Many of these flies can be found in the books which influenced my early fly tying. These include:

  • Pacific Northwest Fly Patterns (1970) from Patrick’s Fly Shop in Seattle, Washington.
  • Western Trout Fly Tying Manual (1980) by Jack Dennis.

Perhaps the most influence came from a series of books by Randall Kaufmann from Kaufmann’s Streamborn fly shop in Tigard, Oregon:

  • American Nymph Fly Tying Manual (1970)
  • Tying Dry Flies (1991)
  • Tying Nymphs (1994) 

The last two books were very different from the early ones. They were all color. The early 90’s was when I started to get back and tie flies.

Old Fly Tying Books |

If you still have those books, I’m sure you’ll recognize a few of the patterns showing up on Throw Back Thursday Flies.

I started Throw Back Thursday Flies on my RiverKeeper Flies Facebook page to celebrate the history and hopefully bring back some great fly fishing memories. But if you didn’t follow me on Facebook, you were missing out on something.

So this post is to catch everyone up. Hopefully, you enjoy this blast from the past.

There are some great old fly patterns that still work. Let’s see…here are a couple of them:


Adams - Original |

Hare’s Ear Nymph

Hares Ear Nymph | www.johnkreft.comSome are favorite flies I still fish. Many are patterns you’re probably familiar with. Others may be new to you.

I created a post for each fly to coincide with the date it showed up on my RiverKeeper Flies Facebook page. An easy way to see all of them is to click on the CATEGORY Throw Back Thursday Flies at the bottom of this post or on the sidebar located to the right. You should get the whole listing and be able to “catch up”.

Here is the full list:

So check back on Thursdays to see the next Throw Back Thursday fly.

And if one resonates with you, fill out the COMMENT below and tell me why. 


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Black Gnat

Today’s Throw Back Thursday is another fly from one of the vintage fly wallets in my collection. And I don’t know the name of it. This wet fly is one I’d fish as a hatching caddis, swimming towards the surface. Perhaps a size 12? If you know what it is, please let me know…a Black Gnat?

Black Gnat | 

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Winter Fly Tying and Fly Fishing Shows

Look out your window and you’ll be convinced it’s a good time to attend a winter Fly Tying and Fly Fishing show. If you get a chance, attend one of the shows in your area and learn new techniques or check out new fly patterns and gear.

I just returned from the Western Idaho Fly Fishing Expo in Boise, Idaho where I was a demonstration tyer for two days. This is my third year tying at the event.

John - Boise Expo |




My friend Sherry Steele’s Whychus Canyon steelhead fly was selected as the show fly. Here she is tying one…or rather talking about it!

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Gray Hackle Peacock

A Grey Hackle Peacock is this weeks Throw Back Thursday fly. An old one I found in one of my vintage fly wallets. Notice the leader tied into the fly. We don’t tie them like that anymore. Like I said – OLD. A wet fly originated in the 1700’s. Have any in your fly box?

Gray Hackle Peacock |


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San Juan Worm

San Juan Worm. Yup, a worm is this week’s Throw Back Thursday fly from the archives.

Developed in the 1970’s by Jim Aubrey for the San Juan River in New Mexico, it’s accounted for many fish and worked so well, the “San Juan Shuffle” is outlawed on some rivers. The “Shuffle” is a technique where you dislodge bugs and WORMS by shuffling your feet upstream from fish and they drift down for the fish to eat. Yes, worms live on the river bottom. I’ve seen them when using a kick net.

San Juan Worm |


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