Do you remember the first flies you used when you began fly fishing? I remember some of my first flies. Oh my, that was years ago!

Let’s see…there were the Woolly Worm, Zug Bug, and Hare’s Ear. Those are names I remember.

How about the flies in this picture? That must be my early attempt at an Adams fly. The other flies? I hesitate to venture a guess!

My Old Flies |

Here is a picture of the vise I used – Thompson Model A. And these books began my fly tying library all those years ago. I’ve glanced at them in the last few days and it brought a smile to my face. My fly tying abilities have improved since then!

Old Fly Tying Books & Thompson A Vise |

I remember fly fishing the Metolius River some 40+ years ago. I was in my teens and didn’t have much money to buy flies. My knots or the tippet I was using probably wasn’t the best, but the bottom line was I broke the fly off on a fish. I’m guessing I only had two of that pattern and somehow lost both of them. Maybe the other hooked some bush along the edge! Anyway, I thought “this is going to be an expensive SPORT”. Little did I know…

Well, the fly I lost was a Tied Down Caddis. I remember the older gentleman who tied flies at the Camp Sherman Store. He tied them in the back. I was intrigued by it.

It’s an old pattern and imitates a Caddis or even a Golden Stonefly. I didn’t even know that all those years ago. If you aren’t familiar with the fly, here are a couple of pictures:

Tied Down Caddis
Tied Down Caddis |
Tied Down Caddis - Bottom |

Notice the vise in the picture? It’s that Thompson Model A! Would probably work fine today. Perhaps I’m somewhat spoiled.

The Tied Down Caddis looks good to me. I tied it today with a few different materials. They’re different from what I use today.

Tied Down Caddis Materials |

Let’s see, the thread is a non-waxed 2/0 instead of the 8/0 I usually tie with; wool yarn instead of some type of dubbing; India necks for hackle – a long way from the genetic hackle I use today. Oh, the deer hair looks like the only material that hasn’t really changed! 

But I gotta believe that fly would catch a fish today!

Oh, I was talking about losing flies…perhaps I should tie my own…and save money!

Somehow I ended up at Doughton’s Hardware Store in Salem, Oregon where I lived. That was the coolest hardware store. You walked through the doors and here were garbage cans filled with fly rods, rod blanks, counters full of reels, five gallon tins filled with India necks, and all the other hooks and materials a fly tier would need. 

Wayne Doughton owned the shop. He sold me a vise, fly tying book (that small Tie Your Own Flies in the picture), four flies and the materials to tie those flies. Then he said “stop by my house on Sunday and I’ll teach you to tie those patterns”. I’m trying to remember the patterns from decades ago…

That’s how it all began.

I didn’t know which flies to tie or when to use them. Does that sound familiar? That’s one of the reasons I try to help those new to the sport. Someone helped me and I’m trying to do my part to pass it on – be it giving away flies or teaching the willing to tie their own.

I think it’s funny how we constantly are searching for the “perfect” fly. Must be why new flies are developed all the time. We constantly find new fly tying materials at the fly shop and have to try them out. There are very talented tiers coming up with new patterns constantly. And they catch fish. We all seem to get caught up in the new flies and the flies used long ago begin to rust in our boxes. We don’t buy or tie the old model any more. And it gets forgotten.

I think it’s time to remember those older flies. We caught fish on them, didn’t we? Why aren’t they used today?

Let’s celebrate those old flies and reminisce about the many fish that were caught. I think I’ll start my own version of “throw back Thursday” by posting pictures of the older flies I started out fishing in my early years…perhaps beginning this Thursday. You can find those on my Facebook page entitled: RiverKeeper Flies.

I think it’s appropriate to post this Tied-Down Caddis as my first one. What do you think?

What were your first flies you fished with?

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  1. My first flies were floating spiders , a fella in Rockford Il ..showed me how to tie them and I was off to the races so they say…I used them for years to catch bluegills and a bass once in a while..

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