Speaking of Ghosts…

Due to an inquiry from a customer a couple years ago, with his desire to have me create a frame of all the streamer patterns named “Ghost” – specifically “Something Ghost” as opposed to “Ghost Something” – which was the dividing line I decided upon, I expected to maybe find about, three dozen. Nope. Sixty-four by my count, including four original Ghost patterns that I have created. Two of these have been published here; you can use the search tab at top right of my page, for “Carrie’s Ghost” and “Wheeler’s Ghost,” type that in, hit “enter” and it will take you right to those articles.

I am tying Bubgee’s Ghost and the Rangeley Ghost next week to fill an order for a collector. All four of these patterns are part of a large series of thirty-six original streamer patterns I created about two years ago, using the Rangeley Region of Maine as the source for these patterns. I also created each pattern in the authentic style of Carrie Stevens, using her fly design concepts, use of materials, placement and layering of throat hackles, and shoulder selection from her body of work.

I have not been “on the stick” to get these flies finished, but I need to get crackin’. There are several totally new streamer / Lake Fly conversions in this collection, and the four Ghosts; Carrie’s Bugbee’s Wheeler’s, and Rangeley, were inspired by Carrie’s Gray Ghost and Ghost patterns of other tiers. Other locales and places in the Rangeley region were also used in choosing names and making these streamers come to life.

I thought that would be one frame of “Ghosts” —  looks like it will need to be two… ;-)

I will have streamer materials with me at the 24th International Fly Tying Symposium this weekend, in Somerset, New Jersey. I can tie a streamer for you on custom order, do a demo, or you can place an order for me to fill later on.

Vintage Stuff

A friend of mine, and one of my blog followers, and occasional commenters, Alec Stansell, of Massachusetts, posted this picture on his facebook page. I liked it and decided to share it with my readers. It is some carded streamers and a bottle of head cement from the Percy Tackle Company, of Portland, Maine. Percy Tackle Co. was started by Gardner Percy, I believe, back in the 1920′s.

The flies are a Mickey Finn (left), unknown (center) – I have put in a message to Alec to identify it, and a Gray Ghost. The head cement is pretty cool too. Wonder how it would work?

Old collectible items from the Percy Tackle Company, of Portland, Maine.

Old collectible items from the Percy Tackle Company, of Portland, Maine. The flies are attached to the card with a staple over the hook bend. This was the most common method of attaching streamers and bucktails to cards.

Don’t forget, you can click on the picture, and it will enlarge for a bigger image. If you have a new touch-screen laptop like I do (still getting used to it), then you can also make the pic bigger just by moving your fingers…either way works.

Alec just messaged me, this pic was on eBay. He bought the items, but has not yet received them. He offered to take macro pics of the items when he gets them, and we’ll get the name for that unknown pattern. He thinks it’s called “Commando.” Which is interesting because I do not know of a fly with that name…course, sometimes I just don’t know… ;-)

Rangeley Lake Flies

Earlier this fall, I tied an order for a customer going to Upper Dam in the Rangeley Region of Maine to fish for brook trout and land-locked salmon. He told me to select the patterns, so I thought it only appropriate to choose the flies for his trip from among the famous, historic, heritage Lake Flies, some of which were listed in Mary Orvis Marbury’s 1892 book, Favorite Flies and Their Histories. These flies were in the Orvis inventory, and also for sale by other firms, such as Abbey & Imbrie, who went out of business in 1920.

I tied them on size #6 and #8 Mustad hooks, though I did use contemporary wet fly hooks, in this case, Tiemco #3769, 0x-long wet fly hook. The reason for that is that vintage wet fly hooks such as the #3906 and #3399 Mustad, and other hooks such as Partridge, Allcock, Nyack and others, while they make great-looking wet flies, the contemporary hooks are in my view, better for fishing flies. This is due to their manufacture with high-carbon steel, and having chemically sharpened points and mini-barbs. Besides the limited availability of antique and vintage hooks relegates their prudent usage to collector and framed flies.

Here are the pics of part of the order:

A collection of Lake Flies, all originated and / or used in Maine's Rangeley Lakes Region.

A collection of replicated 19th century Lake Flies, all originated and / or used in Maine’s Famous Rangeley Lakes Region. On the left, Montreals; top center, The Tim – named for Tim Pond near Eustis;  right, Richardson, named after Richardson Lake; and center, a dozen Parmacheene Belles in two sizes. The latter was named for Lake Parmacheene, part of the system that the Magalloway River flows out of.

The Tim in Marbury’s book has a black ostrich herl head, but I substituted black rabbit dubbing to replicate the vintage look. This trick also makes for less time and effort where you might otherwise apply numerous coats of head cement to finish the head smooth and shiny. The fly, done this way, with the faux-ostrich dubbed head, looks classic and can be finished – and fished – right out of the vise. On to the next fly…

Rangeley Lake Flies, a bit of a closer image - macro photo.

Rangeley Lake Flies, a bit of a closer image – macro photo.

And finally, The Tim:

The Tim Lake Fly - named for Tim Pond, created in the 1870's-80's...named for Trapper Tim, for whom Tim Pond was named.

The Tim Lake Fly – named for Tim Pond, created in the 1870′s-80′s…named for Trapper Tim, for whom Tim Pond was named. The mallard wing was applied in two sections, basically layering two sections of webby mallard, right over each other. The second, top layer, is folded or tented over the lower portion of the wing.

The Tim:

Tag: Flat silver tinsel

Tail: Scarlet quill section

Ribbing: Oval silver tinsel

Body: Yellow floss

Hackle: Yellow

Wing: yellow dyed gray mallard

Head: Black wool or dubbing, finished with black thread.

I used Danville white Flymaster 6/0 for the body, and switched to black for the head. These Lake Flies were historically tied in larger sizes, #4, #2, #1, even as large as #1/0 and even 2/0 in some cases.

Oh yes, my customer reported success with the flies on his trip. Classic flies, fun to tie, and they still catch fish! See also the recent posts on the Black Prince, where that classic wet fly has tempted brown trout on Pennsylvania’s famed limestone streams, Penn’s Creek and Spring Creek, for two of my customers.

I have another batch that I took photos of, they were part of a second shipment. I’ll get those posted here as well…after the coming week or so of doing things more important right now…

24th Annual International Fly Tying Symposium

By way of announcement, the International Fly Tying Symposium will take place next weekend, November 22 and 23 at Somerset, New Jersey. I will be present, tying and demonstrating. The event is at the Garden State Exhibit Center, the show hotel is the Doubletree.

I plan to tie classic wet flies, and maybe some streamers, but more likely than not, I will focus on the 20th century style wets from Ray Bergman’s “Trout,” Helen Shaw’s “Flies for Fish and Fisherman,” and other books. I will also have on hand my copy of Mary Orvis Marbury’s “Favorite Flies and Their Histories,” since my book in progress, “Favorite Fishing Flies – 1892″ is being put on a fast track to a finish line to be sent to the publisher. I will concentrate on those patterns, likely focusing on some of the classic Lake Flies.

I will have updated information on my book, so please stop by and see my ongoing laptop slide show of the actual flies from the 122-year old color plates of flies that the book plate paintings were made from.

I will also have some gray mallard on hand, so if you want a demo on tying patterns such as the Professor, using one feather to make a great looking wing, whether for fishing or presentation, check this out. No more stress trying to locate prime matched pairs of gray mallard flank. ;-)

I also have a new, for about three years, method to mount wet fly quill wings. Thanks to my buddy Dave Lomasney, of York, Maine. If you have not seen this, you need to.

Looking forward to being there again!

The Black Prince Rides Again

Black Prince 013-1A few posts back, I wrote about a customer who had bought four dozen Black Prince wet flies from me. Well, her success with that old classic pattern continues, and has spilled over to another angler she met on the stream. After her success on Penn’s Creek, I had asked her what size she was using. There is more success to this fish story, since he also ordered some Black Prince wet flies from me, and I wanted to share a few of their notes:

Wednesday Sept. 24:

Mr. Bastian,

“I say again: ALL HAIL THE BLACK PRINCE!!

I was this evening at Fisherman’s Paradise (FP – near Bellefonte, Pennsylvania), and again was successful with the Black Prince. FP is a very difficult place to fish in that the pressure there is enormous. But I am learning; I go there in the evening and not only fish past sundown but past last light into the darkness. They are active at this time. I am there fishing with my Glenn Brackett, 7ft. 3wt. bamboo rod, Hardy “Baby” Perfect, Cortland “Sylk” line and the Orvis 4x braided Bimini leader. The last one I caught was a nice fat 10-inch that gave a really good fight. Just gorgeous. Size you ask? #16.

I AM learning how to wet fly fish!!”

Best Regards,
Jean

And she replied to my initial post about the Black Prince:

Thursday Sept. 25:

“Dear Mr. Bastian,

Very nice post. Getting the word out on actually using Bergman flies is important. And yes you were correct: I fished across-and-down. Very traditional stuff. Perhaps I should be out there with that Leonard Fairy Catskill and that little Hardy St George Jr. Now that’s tradition!”

Jean

And she wrote this note after yet another successful evening on Penn’s Creek fishing the Black Prince:

Sept. 28:

“I must say, Mr. Bastian, that the Black Prince is a really something. I do hope you are fishing with your own flies. (Of course I am, just not often enough – ;-) – Don). As a fitting closure to the evening, a juvenile bald eagle, a trout in his talons, flew over my head. Gorgeous.”

Best Regards,

Jean

On her “Black Prince” outing at Fisherman’s Paradise, she met another angler who lives in nearby State College. Since she was catching fish, he was curious what she was using. Jean met Robert, and they talked flies, they spoke of classic tackle, talked about me, since she has been a customer for a few years now, and I had also spent some time fishing with her in July 2012, and he also wondered where he could get this “killer fly.” She gave him my e-mail address, he placed an order for two dozen Black Prince wet flies, #14, and #16.

Here is a letter he sent just yesterday, Wednesday October 22:

“Your quality of work is just outstanding! I have been treating your flies like little pieces of art that get tossed through the air. Have only used them on the creek in one outing so far, on Spring Creek at ‘The Rock’. I fished them in tandem ( #14 and #16), 45 degrees upstream dead drift until 45 degrees behind me, and then swung them across and used a twitch method until it was directly downstream, followed by a hand twist retrieve. (This is) The method detailed in Ray Bergman’s, Trout (1938, 1952). In two hours I landed six nice fish. Two were on the hot spot, right when they started to drag 45 degrees behind, one really good strike during twitching, and three more on the retrieve. This is such a fun way to fish for me, and I will certainly be looking into more classic wet fly patterns in the future. I will give you a full days report soon.”

Robert
This ought to give you all a few ideas…places to fish, and trout to catch!

Gem – A New and Unknown Carrie Stevens Pattern

Two different people sent me this photo over the weekend of an unknown (as far as I know), carded  Carrie Stevens bucktail pattern. Obviously, it is her card, her handwriting, and her fly. And very interesting in that fly is is a similar design to the FRS Bucktail patterns she originated for her friend and client of her guide husband, Wallace Stevens. The client for whom the FRS bucktails were created and named was Francis Reast Smith, 1873-1950.

Here is the pic of the Gem:

Gem bucktail, created and tied by Carrie G. Stevens of Upper Dam, Maine.

Gem bucktail, created and tied by Carrie G. Stevens of Upper Dam, Maine. This hook is a variation from her standard use of the Allcock 1810 Regular Heavy Sproat turned-down eye streamer hooks that she normally used. Not sure what it is, but it is known she used some Mustad hooks similar in design to the Allcock 1810 after World War II.

By zooming in on the image, I was able to ascertain that the head is red with a black band, and there is a tag on the fly, though it is impossible to determine the color of it. Perhaps if I made another image, cropped it to the tag, and them zoomed in and maybe lightened the brightness I might be able to find that out. That’s a little detective project for later on…

This is also interesting for another reason: chenille was like, never used on any of Carrie Stevens’ other named and well-known and known, but unfamiliar patterns. On the tag, it is very likely that it is a silver tinsel, because of all her named and known patterns, give or take a hundred-plus, she used gold tinsel on only five of them. Upon close inspection, the profile of the tag seems to indicate that it is oval tinsel as well, presenting the use of another material that she did not use on the dressings of her standard Rangeley Style streamers.

Don’t forget folks, you can click on the image to enlarge it, and another click will make it even bigger Check it out!

The topping appears to be green hackle fibers. Body is yellow chenille, and the wing is white bucktail over red bucktail. I’m sticking my neck out a bit and am calling the tag oval silver tinsel, without having made the aforementioned detailed investigation.

To my regular followers…I have a major life-change event on the horizon…all good. Moving on and forward from some of the negative residual of my ill-fated second marriage which ended almost four years ago. I have been very busy with all that. At some point I will be more in control of everything and will be able to focus on more regular writing here as well. I send my heartfelt thanks to all of you for your patience and devotion.

I will be at the International Fly Tying Symposium in November, the 22nd and 23rd, in Somerset, New Jersey.

Black Prince

The Black Prince wet fly is an old pattern. It is shown on the Lake Flies in Favorite Flies and Their Histories, 1892, by Mary Orvis Marbury. It is also in Trout, 1938, by Ray Bergman. It was a popular pattern and has appeared in other publications as well. The Orvis version has a body made entirely of flat gold tinsel, while the later version in Trout sports a black floss body with a gold tinsel ribbing. Both have red tails, the version in Marbury’s book also has a jungle cock cheek. Hackle and wings on both versions are black, with natural black hackle being used on the original plate fly. I have a photo of that and recognized it as natural black; more of a dark charcoal color.

The reason I am inspired to post this article is that I recently completed an order of four dozen Black Prince wet flies, for a customer for fishing. She wanted them in sizes #12, #14, #16, and #18. The surprising part, not to me, but likely to many of you, is that my customer recently fished Pennsylvania’s famed and reportedly difficult to fish, at times anyway, Penn’s Creek. This is a stream where no stocking is done in a large section of Special Regulation water. The fish are almost all wild, stream-bred brown trout. I received her e-mail message today, as follows:

“ALL HAIL THE BLACK PRINCE!!! A short time ago I had a great afternoon on Penn’s Creek above Coburn with the Black Prince.  I would lay odds that is a fly that has not been seen around here in 50 years!!  And neither have the trout.”
My customer did not specify the size(s) she used, nor did she indicate how they were fished, but it’s a sure bet the flies were simply swung down-and-across. The hooks I used to supply her fishing fly order were modern hooks; I used Tiemco wet fly hooks – #3769. I prefer vintage and antique hooks for display and collector flies; and contemporary, high-carbon steel, mini-barb, chemically sharpened points to get the job done if the flies will be getting wet. Modern hooks are unquestionably better for fishing.
Here is a photo of the version of the Black Prince from Trout:
Black Prince - classic wet fly. The hook size is #6,Mustad vintage style No. 3399.

Black Prince – classic wet fly. The hook size is #6, Mustad vintage style No. 3399. The hackle on this fly was applied after setting the wing, using an old-fashioned technique. This method combines the winged wet with the effectiveness of a soft-hackle.

Black Prince

Thread: Danville Black Flymaster 6/0

Hook: Standard wet fly hook, sizes #2 to #18 – large hooks, full hackle to replicate Lake Fly style.

Tag: Flat gold tinsel

Tail: Scarlet hackle fibers of a section of red duck quill – may be two matching slips paired, or a single slip of duck or goose wing quill, as was done almost exclusively in the 1800′s

Ribbing: Narrow gold tinsel

Body: Black floss

Wing: Black duck or goose wing quill, matched and paired; may also be natural crow

Hackle: Black

It is the tiers discretion to apply the hackle as a false or beard style hackle, or as a soft-hackle collar, which may be wound either before or after placing the wing.

If one desired to replicate the Orvis version of the Black Prince, use fine flat gold tinsel for the tag, make the body from medium flat gold tinsel, use a scarlet dyed quill section for the tail – traditionally in the 1800′s, scarlet ibis feathers were used for this – and add a jungle cock cheek.

Like so many classic wet flies, trout do not see them, and one ace-in-the-hole trick you can tuck up your sleeve is to hit the water with something different than what everyone else is fishing. How about the Black Prince?

Next on my customers custom order – the Grackle, another old classic pattern.