Identifying old flies

ThomasB

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Hello,
I'm new to this forum and I'm hoping someone can identify some old flies that belonged to my late grandfather. He passed away in 1969 and I just last week was given by my cousin one of his bamboo rods, some reels and other tackle. One of the items is his leather fly wallet with about 30 flies in it. I've been fly fishing for about 25 years, and although that seems like a long time I only got out several times a year because of work etc. I retired 5yrs. ago and hadn't fished in several years due mostly to my biggest hobby, an old wooden sailboat. That's a long story but let me just say, that hobby has come to an end. I now have decided to get back to fly fishing and the reason it is so much more interesting is that I am now using vintage equipment. I love old things that still work. I used to restore manual typewriters and treadle sewing machines, I love those old mechanical devices. Now that I also have my grandfathers cane rod and his Pflueger Medalist #1494 I'm pretty excited. I already have a Montague Rapidan that I've about finished varnishing and two other Pflueger Medalist reels. I'm also going to try and restore my grandfathers silk line as well as another that was on one of my other Medalists. I'm wondering if I send pictures to this forum or to someone by email, if they can identify my grandfathers flies? Remembering what flies are what has always been hard for me, simply I think because I never fished for a long enough time to remember them. I really enjoy dry flies and small brooks. I'm fond of a little bushwhacking to get to unknown streams too. Some of the flies I'm giving to my brother, who fished with our grandfather more than anyone, and would love to put a name to them before I pass them on. Thanks for the help.
Tom
 

jayr

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Post pics of the flies, I just about guarantee someone here can identify them.

There is a ton of good info on the Pflueger reels, how to clean, lube, etc. Google for that.
 

silver creek

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#2 looks like an ant pattern of some type.

#17 and 32 are versions of the Mickey Finn without tinsel on the hook shank as in the Mickey Finn fly below. The proportions of the yellow and red hair vary but they are basically Mickey Finn streamers.



#15 could be a variation of a skunk steelhead fly. It has a black body wrapped with silver tinsel, a red tail, and a hair over wing.

 
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ThomasB

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Well four down, 29 to go! My grandfather could have bought them for someone he knew who tied flies, I know he didn't tie flies. The skunk steelhead is interesting because I think my grandfather only fished locally and I'm not sure there are any steelhead in this area, unless back in the 1930's and 40's they came up some of the bigger local rivers. He lived in Blackstone MA. all his life, where I grew up and the Blackstone River runs through town. There are so many old dams and falls from all the mills that were here in the Blackstone Valley, and the pollution back then I'm not sure they would come up it. I'm sure he probably caught fish on it that were not steelheads.
 

bigjim5589

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There are flies in there that I recognize, that may be variations. Since you say that your grandfather did not tie flies, these could have come from sources that may not have been tying "known" patterns, or even possibly poor representations of known patterns. ( As shown in places such as the Orvis catalog) I was a kid during that time period and was given an assortment of flies, that were not true to known patterns. Even then. there were some imported flies, that may not have been tied accurately to well known patterns.

Number 1, is probably what's left of a fly, not the actual pattern, so not something that can be identified. Number 5 may be a Edson Tiger Streamer. There is both a "Light" and Dark version, but with the age, it may not be easy to determine.

Number 4 looks to be a dark dun color to me, so possibly an Iron Blue Dun wet fly. That could be wrong, as colors don't always show properly on some computer monitors. Number 6 may be a Yellow Sally version. Number 11 may be a Red ( or Scarlet) Ibis. ( Although probably not tied with real Ibis.)

Number18 may be a Black Gnat. I've seen versions tied with dun gray wings, even though the pattern is supposed to have white wings. Number 29 may be a White Miller, 30 looks like it may have been a Jock Scott. There are versions that were reduced without some materials for use as trout flies on smaller hooks. Number 31 looks like a Royal coachman, although with a good bit of wear & tear. There are some Mickey Finn's too as Silver Creek mentioned.

All these flies that I've mentioned, were popular around that time, and there have been similar patterns with different names, so my suggestions may not be accurate. Also, age causes fading of colors and having been wet, it's also possible colors have bled. However, that's the best guess I can make.
 

trev

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The lower Blackstone was so polluted in the 1970s-80s that no one fished it. Had a shiny surface and an acrid odor. But there are a hundred smaller streams within easy driving of Blackstone and a few dozen ponds, Those look like local ties to me. Guys used to tie flies all winter and sell them on the water in the spring. I knew a few that area that did that in the '70-'80s and none of the ones I knew tied "book" patterns.
You can search out wet fly patterns of the north east and you might l find that some of yours resemble some of them. Every tyer had a dozen or two of his own patterns and most were unique.
 

ThomasB

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No. 19 looks very similar to the trad wet, 'The Cardinal', just fatter - but that's not that uncommon with cardinals. ;)
The lower Blackstone was so polluted in the 1970s-80s that no one fished it. Had a shiny surface and an acrid odor. But there are a hundred smaller streams within easy driving of Blackstone and a few dozen ponds, Those look like local ties to me. Guys used to tie flies all winter and sell them on the water in the spring. I knew a few that area that did that in the '70-'80s and none of the ones I knew tied "book" patterns.
You can search out wet fly patterns of the north east and you might l find that some of yours resemble some of them. Every tyer had a dozen or two of his own patterns and most were unique.
Trev,
I spent a lot of time along the Blackstone River and in a row boat on it, as a young boy in the 60's. We caught a lot of kivvers, local name for panfish, flatfish, bluegills. It was pretty dirty. Rolling Dam in the High Rocks area of town still holds a lot of heavy metals that slowly leach down stream at high water. It has gotten better. My father in law at 3yrs old fell in the river in Woonsocket and broke out in boils! I'm beginning to think my grandfather used a lot of wet flies and because some of the flies are so old it may not be possible to identify all of them. Thanks for your input.
bigjim, Thanks so much. Your best guesses are a lot better than mine. A lot of them have seen some serious use and are kind of beaten up so I'm sure it's tough to make an accurate I.D., at least it gives me an idea of what he fished with. Thanks again.
 

ThomasB

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A lot of old style wet flies but my memory left me years ago to put names on them.
old timer,
Thank you for responding. I am beginning to come to that conclusion about wet flies, other people have said the same thing. I've never fished with wet flies but am going to start this coming spring, time to broaden my horizons! Thanks again.
 
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