Copied from A. Courtney Williams - A Dictionary of Trout Flies (1950)
The dressing of this deservedly popular fly was the invention of a professional
fly-tier, R. S. Austin, who first produced it in about the year 1900. He was a tobacconist
at Tiverton and only dressed and sold flies as a sideline. The creation of this pattern
was his greatest achievement and even before his death 1911 it had gained a great
reputation in this country.
The credit of naming the fly so aptly must be given to Mr. G. E. M. Skues, who
was one of the two individuals to whom the inventor confided the secret of the dressing;
the other was Mr. C. A. Hassam, a keen amateur fly-dresser who produced some beautiful
The Tup is fished wet or dry as an imitation of the smaller pale wateries, although,
with slight modification in the tie, it may be used throughout the season to simulate
a number of duns, spinners, and nymphs. Fished sunk, it is useful for tempting bulging
trout, whilst as a floater it is equally good on rough mountain streams as on clear
In fairness to Mr. Austin and later his daughter (who carried on the fly-tying
side of his business after his death, dressing nothing but the Tup) the original
dressing of the fly was kept secret by those to whom it had been entrusted, for many
years. A few years ago, on her retirement, Miss Austin gave Mr. Skues permission
to publish the correct dressing, Mr. Hassam having died a little time before.
In the intervening years (although naturally experienced fly-tiers were able to
make a fairly good guess about the ingredients of the fly), all sorts of weird creations
were made and sold as Tup’s Indispensable in order to meet the ever-increasing demand
for this fly, which rumour had it was something out of the ordinary. As the correct
dressing is still not widely known, the position is much the same today and some
most extraordinary patterns masquerade under the Tup marque. They range from the
quite unbelievable to the totally impossible.
As a matter of interest, I have looked up the dressing of this fly in half a dozen
modern books and no two agree as to what it is. Add to this the facts that some of
the material is not altogether easy to obtain and that the pattern is not one of
the easiest to tie, and one finds the reason why so many monstrosities are still
on the market.
I have thought it as well to treat the matter at some length, because some of the
T. I.’s offered by makers are so unlike the genuine article, that they may cause
disappointment to the user and give him a false impression of the fly’s killing possibilities.