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I have always been fascinated with old fly fishing patterns although I don’t understand why.

I am not going to duplicate them or try to tie them because the flies that I now have produce some good fishing. I picked up a few new patterns reading Ed Zern’s book and tried to look them up on the Internet to see if they were still available and find the materials that fly tiers used 60 years ago.

Patterns like the Esso Bee St Clair Nymphs, Fan Wing Royal Coachman, Dickey, Wickham’s Fancy, Oliver Quill, Whirling Blue Dun and Painter’s Bend have some really unusual names and believe it or not I found them all except the Esso Bee and the Painter’s Bend.

These patterns were tied by eastern fly tiers but fish are fish and when used in western rivers and streams produced some good fishing for those who came west to fish. If you were to compare these patterns to those we use today there are so many similarities that Western fly patterns would also work on Eastern rivers and streams.

The materials that some of these old patterns are currently not available to fly tiers today. A variety of other materials that duplicate the old materials are readily available in fly shops that carry fly tying material. The hackles and feathers that we use today are so much better and genetically grown that some of the old timers would drool to get their hands on them to whip out a few flies.

I discovered that there is a book available called "The Foundling Flies” by Mike Valla in which he touts 43 American master tiers, their patterns and their influences on the fly fishing industry. I don’t have the book yet, but I want it in my library of fly fishing books so I will have my hands on it shortly. There is a preview of the book on the Internet and there are many people that I don’t recognize.

Fly fishing is a very unusual sport if you scrutinize what each of us believes and what we do. The equipment we own is specific to our preferences or budget and the flies that we prefer are so individualistic that what I recommend would cause some laughter with other fly fishermen and visa versa.

Licenses for fishing are not available yet so your 2018 license is good until the first of March. Don’t throw that old one away until then even though you will be able to buy your new one shortly.

There is a little ice on portions of the river but there is still a lot of open water so don’t hesitate to head out and catch your fish for January. I believe that our inversion is over for the year and the ice should break up within a few days.

Nymphing is always the best way to fish during the winter months and a couple of fishermen caught a dozen fish between them a week ago. They caught trout and not whitefish.

Good Fishing,

Bill Bean.

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