Cast From The Past: Early Bass Flies

Photo Credit: Steve Woit

Early Bass Flies

These early bass flies, including Orange Dun and Scarlet Ibis patterns, were tied directly to short gut leaders made from silkworm gut. The gut processed from the silkworm was once the preferred material for fly fishing flies and leaders.

Bass and lake flies of the period were sometimes carefully hand-tied to cards and marketed by such firms as Abbey and Imbrie, whose logo appears on the red fly. The beautiful scarlet ibis, now a threatened species, was one of many birds whose feathers were used to tie flies in some of the original patterns dating from the turn of the century. The sale and use of feathers from threatened and endangered species are now regulated by the laws of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Steve Woit is the author of “Fly Fishing Treasures: The World of Fly Fishers and Collecting”, a book featuring profiles of 30 experts and collectors and over 800 photographs of rare and collectible fly rods, reels, flies, books, and ephemera.

One thought on “Cast From The Past: Early Bass Flies

  1. Reprise of a line of mine on Moldy a while back:

    “It’s fishing, Jim, but not as we know it.”

    Through the late 1960s and very early 1970s, as a fishing-crazy teenager, I placed an occasional tiny, 2-line ad in the Classifieds Advertisements section at the back of a weekly British fishing paper – for pre-WW2 Allcock of Redditch, Hardy’s of Alnwick and other makers’ Nottingham centre(er) pin reels. Sometimes I’d add a “Fly reels considered”.

    My word, there were a lot of people looking to get rid of their own and their uncles’ and fathers’ and grandfathers’ old fishing junk in those days.

    I saw enough of the stuff to be (very briefly) tempted by thoughts of becoming some trader or dealer and self-styled “expert” in the stuff, but then, in actually never Spock-uttered old Star Trek fashion, I thought the better of it, and instantly, in the style of a much-later one, promptly disengaged – merely buying the few bits of tackle that I needed for my own fishing (not my collection and display cases) then got the hell out of that then completely unpeopled and blissfully quiet but very soon to become sometimes extremely sharp-elbowed crowded and quarrelsome quadrant of the NON-Angling Galaxy.

    And I am, here, once again, now. Make it so.

    PS – Er …. would anyone like to see my…………? I bought it for just English Shillings back in 1969, you know…. Perhaps not. I wouldn’t wish to cause a Romulan attack….

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