Soft-Hackle Wet Flies and the Fly Fishing Show – Marlborough, Massachusetts

This is a brief report on the Fly Fishing Show last weekend in Marlborough, Massachusetts. I had a great time, but then I always do at these events. I met some new customers and made some new friends, and I saw a good number of my old friends and customers. We shared stories, family news, and had lots of laughs. Laughing is always important.

In particular I want to note that I had a very nice, long visit and pleasant conversation with Lance Hidy. Lance is the son of Vernon S. “Pete” Hidy, who along with one of Pennsylvania’s fly fishing legends, James E. Leisenring, helped pen Leisenring’s book The Art of Tying the Wet Fly in 1941. A later revised edition of Leisenring’s book, titled The Art of Tying the Wet Fly and Fishing the Flymph,” was co-authored with his friend, Vernon S. “Pete” Hidy, and released in 1971.

During our conversation Lance informed me of some very interesting information; that Jim Leisenring had only an eight-grade education, and his spelling and grammar was not sufficiently proficient to write a book without some assistance, which came from Pete Hidy. More interesting was the fact that another fly tying legend, Reuben R. Cross, author of Tying American Trout Lures, 1936, actually was responsible for introducing Leisenring and Hidy; the two of them became friends and fishing companions, consequently, without that introduction perhaps Leisenring’s book would never have come to pass. (This is what I initially wrote from memory. Lance Hidy sent me the following corrections when I sent him this link).

“Reuben Cross recommended Pete Hidy to his editor at Dodd, Mead, and then mentored Pete through the process of producing the Leisenring book. Without Rube’s support, it is unlikely that the book ever would have been published. Pete introduced Rube to Jim Leisenring. The two men admired each other’s tying, and in particular, shared the same high standards for hook quality. So you see, Jim and Pete were not introduced by Rube, but met each other the old-fashioned way, while fishing. Young Pete watched Big Jim land a fish on Brodhead Creek, and then asked to see the fly Jim used.”

I also asked Lance if he had already or was going to record this information. He replied that was working on a book to that effect. That will be great!

Lance had a sample Olive Soft-hackle fly that he had tied, and also showed me a card of prepared dubbing loops that he had made. It is significant to note that the method Lance uses for these dubbed, twisted thread sections is the same method used by his father. He also showed me a replicated wooden block that Pete made out of pine; Lance’s fellow soft-hackle addict, William Anderson, is making the blocks from hardwood. They are available for fly tiers to use, if one is interested in replicating soft-hackles and flymphs with the same methods used by Leisenring and Hidy. Here is a link to purchase the spinning blocks:

http://www.williamsfavorite.com

More info from Lance: “Leisenring spun his bodies on his knee. Dick Clark, a friend of Pete and Jim, invented the spinning block, which was modified by Pete, and then fine-tuned again by William and me.” Here are a couple photos sent to me by Lance:

Lance Hidy and William Anderson at the Danbury Arts of the Angler Fly Fishing Show in November, 2013.

Lance Hidy and William Anderson at the Danbury Arts of the Angler Fly Fishing Show in November, 2013. The wooden spinning blocks made by William can be seen lying on the table.

And a spinning block that Pete made. He gave these away to anybody who showed a serious interest, including to Dave Hughes and Rick Hafele who continue to demonstrate the method at fly shows.

A spinning block that Pete Hidy made. He gave these away to anybody who showed a
serious interest, including to Dave Hughes and Rick Hafele who continue to
demonstrate the method at fly shows.

Below are a couple photos I took of Lance’s fly and dubbing loops:

Olive Soft-hackle Wet Fly, dressed by Lance Hidy. Photo by Don Bastian.

Olive Soft-hackle Wet Fly, dressed by Lance Hidy. Photo by Don Bastian.

prepared dubbing loops, made by Lance Hidy from olive wool and seal fur.

Prepared dubbing loops, made by Lance Hidy from olive wool and seal fur. Photo by Don Bastian.

And last but not least:

Photo of yours truly, taken by Lance Hidy at the Marlborough show. My friend and Lance's friend Bill Shuick from Maryland,

Photo of yours truly, taken by Lance Hidy at the Marlborough Fly Fishing show. My friend and Lance’s friend, Bill Shuck, from Maryland, is a fellow soft-hackle tier and member of the Flymph Forum. Bill sent this photo to me, titled, “Donnie at Marlborough.” All of my family and most of my close friends call me Donnie. But some of you already know that.

I know, that boy can lose a few pounds, but considering that last year at Marlborough, I had no gut and weighed 160 pounds. This year, after my bout with Crohn’s Disease last year, I’ll take the few extra pounds and the belly – and my health!

For more information on Flymphs and Soft-Hackle Wet Flies, check out: http://www.flymphforum.com/

Finally I could not write about Marlborough without thanking my friends, Angie and Jim Kennedy from Ashland, Massachusetts. They were my hosts for the weekend, and among the great meals they provided and bottle of Wild Turkey 101 Single Barrel bourbon, (Thanks Jim!), I have to say Angie’s brownies and chocolate creme pie, both made from scratch, were hands-down, the best I have ever had! Thanks Angie! You guys are great! Now my mouth is watering, I need a brownie! Wait, I still have two left!

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6 comments on “Soft-Hackle Wet Flies and the Fly Fishing Show – Marlborough, Massachusetts

  1. Kelly L says:

    Donnie, I loved the blog topic today. I have a special love for flymph type flies. I really enjoyed the photos. Lance is able to tie extremely close to the work of his father. There are some fly masters on that Flymph Forum, no doubt about it.
    Don’t worry about putting on a few pounds. The main thing is, you feel better. :-)

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Kelly;
      I’m glad you liked the post today! This is cool stuff, and the time spent with Lance was interesting and very informative, and fun! Thanks for your comments!

  2. M says:

    beautiful flies

  3. Don Bastian says:

    Hi M;
    Thanks for your comment! Dave Hughes is one of my favorite fly fishing writers. I met him at the NJ show about 8 – 9 years ago, the only time he came east to that show. Very nice man. Thanks again!

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