Very few fly fishing books have ever been published that contain real-life examples of flies. The limited edition of Eric Taverner’s Trout Fishing From All Angles (1929) is one of them. Pictured below are photographs of the plate of flies from this book and its accompanying key. Owing to the orientation of the photos, the key works top to bottom and left to right. So fly #1, Stewart’s Red Spider, is in the upper right corner, and fly #30, Lough Erne Mayfly, is in the lower left corner.
I think it’s especially interesting to note that the essential design principles used in these patterns are the very same principles incorporated in flies today. Of course, why wouldn’t they be? If our goal remains matching our flies to the insects that trout feed upon, well, the fly tiers and fishermen of old were at least as observant, thoughtful, and creative as we are today. Which is exactly why their designs have stood the test of time.