Roadhouse Blues

This is why I’m having so much fun in my life lately; I’ve become the full-time drummer in the Pepper Street Band. It’s also partly why I have not been as active here, and also why I am lagging a bit on my fly orders. But I am working on them. Life has been good, and my health is great! Especially when compared to last year, when even at this time, I was still recovering from that flare-up of Crohn’s Disease.

Here is a pic from last Saturday night’s gig at a local American Legion Post, No. 617 in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

The Pepper Street Band - left to right;

The Pepper Street Band – left to right; Dave Houseknecht on lead guitar; Peter M. Codispoti on keyboards and harmonica; me on drums, guest lead guitarist Bob LaCerra, guest back=up vocalist Bert Smeal, and bass guitarist Bob Yoas. All four regular band members sing lead vocals.

Life is repeating itself, my cycle of friends, new and old. Pete was the drum major at the Williamsport Area High School back when I was in 9th grade, never got to know him until I joined this band. Bert and I were room mates at band camp on 1969, and he also played in several iterations of my ’70′s classic rock band. Bob is a little younger than me, but I’ve known him for more than thirty-five years. He is a mason by trade, and actually helped lay block and brick here at my home when it was built in 1977 – ’78. Dave knew who I was but I never met him until November 2013, I was asked to fill on on the New Year’s Eve gig. Bob Yoas, also, I did not “know” but we have a mutual long-time friend who is also a fly fishing buddy. My friend and Bob both belong to the same hunting and fishing camp. I am really privileged to be in a band with talented musicians!

Even better than the pic, here is a video taken by a friend from last Saturday’s gig, with the band doing a cover of the Doors, Roadhouse Blues. Both Dave and Bob do some lead guitar work. I decided to post it here so my readers can have a better idea of what I’ve been up to. Not bad for a little hand-held camera. Enjoy! (I hope).

Edit after two comments: One of my subscriber friends wrote, “The singer sounds just like Jim Morrison.” Duh! I forgot to say who is singing the lead vocal on Roadhouse Blues – it’s me! Singin’ and drummin’ at the same time!

Death By Powerpoint – an Update

Hi everyone, blog subscribers and visitors! Nice of you to drop by!

Things have been quiet here lately, but there is a reason for that. Many of you saw my last post, “We Never Know,” and I finally replied this morning in the comment thread to thank each of you who posted your concern, condolence, and support.

Right after making that post, I traveled to Maine for an extended working-combination-pleasure road trip, leaving Pennsylvania on Friday March 14th. Saturday and Sunday the 15th and 16th, I taught two days of fly tying classes at Eldredge Brothers Fly Shop in Cape Neddick, Maine. Then the following Tuesday I presented to the local Sebago Chapter of Trout Unlimited, where for some reason, there was a record-crowd of about sixty-five persons in attendance. It was very affirming to have such a good turnout. Chapter members said they can’t remember the last time they had to get out extra chairs. It was a nice evening and everything turned out well.

I must confess, my program was on Pond Fishing, and I intended to bring along my slide projector, which I did, to show a handful of images to augment my presentation. But when I opened the box the day before my program to select the “Maine pond fishing slides” from my Moosehead Lake program, I could not, because the tray in the projector box was labeled, “The Miracle Mile,” which was there from my last presentation in November. Oops. So I made notes and delivered my presentation informally, without anything extra other than me, myself, and I; talking, asking questions to get audience participation and make them think, and answering questions…which as it turned out, all went really well. I was a little concerned that I would run short on time, not having the extra “picture show” as it might have been, but it went nearly an hour, and not one person walked out. My brother even stayed awake; he has a habit of nodding off during conversations or a movie in the evening. The best compliment I received was from Maine Warden Tim Spahr, who was present because of his close friendship with my niece, Emily, who was also there. Tim is one of the leading “stars” in the reality TV show “Northwoods Law.” Anyway, Tim said it was refreshing to see a presentation and not have to endure another “Death by Powerpoint” program; which I thought, as Emily related to me afterward, was quite funny.

Tim remarked that so many programs these days are all done by Powerpoint, which can be a good thing, and maybe one day I’ll progress to that level of modern technology, but for now, I’m still using slides…or not…and a Motorola Razr cell phone. The other night I sent some text messages to a friend as we were making arrangements to get together for beer and a classic rock band; it was the first time I’ve texted anyone in over two years, and it felt like I was chiseling on a stone tablet, especially compared to many of my friends who have the latest model cell phones with voice-activated texting capability. Finally I called her directly on my cell phone and we handled the arrangements the old-fashioned way. ;-)

My trip back to Pennsylvania included a visit at my daughter’s in Connecticut, where I enjoyed some quality time with her and my three grand children. It was a special joy to see Grace, who was at the time just over five months old, and she’s at the stage where it doesn’t take much to make her smile. And what a smile she has! Blue eyes, possible reddish-blonde hair, with the female genetics of my beautiful mother, my lovely late wife Lou Anne, and my charming daughter Kim as well. The girl is going to be a little beauty, I have a feeling. Pappy is very proud!

I also had tickets to a March 20th show for the Samantha Fish Band at Bridge Street Live in Collinsville, Connecticut, just seventeen miles from my daughter’s in Granby. I could go on about the show, but I’ll just say the youtube videos do not do justice to seeing her perform live! It was fantastic! The drummer, Go-Go Ray, was the best, hands down, I have ever seen anywhere in a live performance. And her guitar playing is right up there. Samantha was awarded Best New Artist by the BMA in 2012 for her CD, “Runaway.” Anyone like rockin’ blues with screaming guitar? Check her out.

On tying flies, the site has been very good me, ever since I joined it in May of 2011. My individual order total is now over seventy-five, with an estimated sales amount of more than eight-thousand dollars. Not a full-time income, but certainly a nice addition to the other things I do. I confess to being a bit backed up on my orders, with my schedule of the Fly Fishing Shows, traveling a bit, and my recent musical involvement as my regular readers know. The musical side seems to keep expanding, as I have been offered the chance to fill-in for a friend’s band, Main Street, which plays a mix of country, country-rock, classic rock, and good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll, this coming Friday April 4th, which is also my birthday. For that upcoming gig, I’m learning another three dozen songs, which I play while working on my fly tying orders. It’s a local gig, and things are very possibly going to work out that the guys in my band, Pepper Street, will also be present, so we may be filling in three or four numbers during both Main Street breaks. A “Two-fer!”

I wanted to update my readers on what’s been going on, but I do need to get back to the vise. Gotta fill those orders!

Partridge and Hare’s Ear Soft-Hackle

My friend Bill Shuck in Maryland just sent me another photo and recipe of his latest fly tying efforts. It is a Pete Hidy style rendition of the Partridge and Hare’s Ear Soft-hackle wet fly / flymph.

It is taken from a recipe in the book, The Masters on the Nymph, by Migel and Wright.
Caddis “Partridge and Hare’s Ear.”
Hook: Gaelic Supreme Jack Mickievicz Letort Dry Fly Standard Shank, Size #14
Thread: Pearsall’s Gossamer, #10 Ash
Hackle: One or two turns of partridge hackle slightly longer than the hook
Ribbing: Fine gold wire
Body: Hare’s poll on ash silk thread
Head: Same as body thread
This looks like a killer pattern; simple, easy to tie, all-purpose generic food item that has wide appeal to the trout. Thanks Bill for your great tying and for the photo!
Partridge and Hare's Ear Soft-hackle Caddis / Flymph. Tied and photographed by Bill Shuck.

Partridge and Hare’s Ear Soft-hackle Caddis / Flymph. Tied and photographed by Bill Shuck.

This fly has got to be a great performer in a two or three fly rig, swung down-and-across.

We Never Know

If people could predict the future, I doubt that life would actually be any fun. For one thing, there would be too many rich people, and who knows what else would be different. Getting right to the point; this article is a short post to recognize once again that life, as it is, with all its inherent unexpected twists and turns, is often beyond the grasp of our immediate control. Hence the reason for what I am writing.

I had announced a few months ago that I was drumming part-time for a local classic rock ‘n’ roll band. As the situation has turned out, my position has become full-time. It is good news for me, because I have really been enjoying the revival of my dormant drumming hobby, and playing with the Pepper Street Band in venues in the north-central Pennsylvania area music scene has been great fun, relaxing, exciting, and entertaining. The reason that my drumming position has become permanent is due to the fact that the life of James Rick Martin, age 63, who had been the drummer for Pepper Street over different decades and iterations, suddenly ended last Friday, March 7th, 2014. “Rick” was diagnosed with lung cancer in January, and he had received only one week of chemo and radiation therapy. Unfortunately he developed pneumonia, was admitted to the hospital on March 3rd, and ultimately succumbed to multiple medical complications.

Initially I was asked to fill in for Rick on New Year’s Eve, and at the time, his health was not of any consideration. How quickly situations can change. I did not know Rick well. I had met him just a few times, and on one occasion at a gig we shared a beer; he seemed like a genuinely good fellow. On that date, January 9th, he wanted me to start playing full-time; while his condition had not yet been diagnosed, nevertheless Rick wanted to be prepared in case the probable treatments would lay him low for a while. I could not start immediately, because of my commitments at two Fly Fishing Shows in January, but I began filling in full-time on February 1st.

Rick and I shared the commonality of music and drumming, both of us played in church praise bands, and we both liked model trains. I mainly want to say, since I can relate to this issue from personal experience, never take your life for granted, nor the life of family, friends, and loved ones around you. Rick’s sudden passing emphasizes the fact that we often have no control over circumstances and situations. If there are people you need to forgive, do it. If you need to tell someone you love them, do it. If there is a situation that requires your reconciliation, if possible, by all means, do it. Do something, anything, that you have been thinking about doing, for someone you care about, or with them, but have not yet taken the time to carry out, because we never know what tomorrow will bring.

Rick’s funeral was today, March 12th, 2014.

Fanwing Royal Coachman and Royal Coachman Wet Fly

I recently finished an order of Fanwing Royal Coachman dry flies and some Royal Coachman wet flies along with the drys. The Fanwing Royal Coachman was among the most popular of all fanwing patterns, which grew to popularity in the late 1920′s. A wide variety of existing dry fly patterns were adapted to fanwing versions, largely due to their popularity. Fanwings remained popular through the 1950′s and even into the early 1960′s. The Fanwing Royal Coachman remained on Ray Bergman’s “Favorite List of Dry Flies” in all three of his trout fishing books, covering a time span of twenty years.

I tied my first Royal Coachman nearly fifty years ago, and it was a favorite top-water pattern of mine. See also:

There’s a few fish stories in that older piece that do not need to be repeated here. Instead I’ m posting these photos:Royal Coachman FW and Wets 003Size #8, #10, and #12.

Two dozen Fanwing Royal Coachman Drys, #8, #10, and #12.

Two dozen Fanwing Royal Coachman Drys, #8, #10, and #12. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

And the forerunner to the dry fly Royal Coachman, the Royal Coachman wet fly:

A dozen Royal Coachman wet flies, #6 and #8, carded up to make them look nice.

A dozen Royal Coachman wet flies, #6 and #8. I tied the wings on these in the old-school- traditional style that was popular in the 19th century.

The original version of the Royal Coachman wet fly had a tail of barred wood duck, but the Federal Migratory Bird Act of 1918 put an end to that. I’m guessing at that time the present golden pheasant tippet fibers for tail came into use for this pattern, since wood ducks, hunted to near-extinction, along with the wide-scale 19th century logging that severely reduced their favored nesting sites – tree cavities, were given national protection and were not legally hunted nationwide until 1959.

All carded up to make them look nice for my customer.

All carded up to make them look nice for my customer.

Hackles on the wets are hen, wound as a collar. White duck wing quill sections on the wet flies, and white male wood duck breast feathers on the fanwings. There are tinsel tags on both dry and wet patterns, and the body is red floss and peacock herl.

Testing the Waters

This post is short and to-the-point; but I wanted to make a preliminary announcement to test the waters for possible interest.

There is a very good possibility that I will be conducting a classic wet fly tying class at Chris Helm’s Shop, Whitetail Fly Tieing Supplies, in Toledo, Ohio, on a Saturday in  early May. Chris has the best-ever venue I’ve ever seen for a tying class. Each student has four feet of table space, a Giraffe flexible lighting system, an ergonomic office chair, and there is a TV monitor of the instructor’s vise to view and follow every step of the instructions. Another plus, Chris has the most fully stocked fly shop I have ever seen.

I’m not sure of the cost or date yet; but I would like to start by collecting a list of names of interested students. Lunch would be included and the class hours are likely 9 AM to 4 PM. If you would like to express your interest and / or have any questions; please e-mail me directly at:

May 3rd is looking like the probable date, the 17th is also being considered.

Parmacheene Belle – Antique Replica

Some of my readers have heard me say that I don’t have a “favorite” classic wet pattern, which is true; it’s so hard to pick only one from the hundreds of possibilities. But considering I first tied the Parmacheene Belle forty years ago in 1974, and the fact that it was also my first-ever married wing wet fly, it has remained at the top of a list of my favorite wet flies. I enjoy tying them; I’ve probably tied more than five hundred of them over the years,  and I also love looking at any well-tied Parmacheene Belle. The fly has a great combination of color – selection, arrangement, and balance, as well as material choice, and the best part: It catches fish! It was a successful fly back in 1876 when Henry P. Wells first created the pattern and named it for Lake Parmacheene in Maine’s Rangeley Lakes Region. Back then it was still possible to catch brook trout in the Rangeley Lakes that exceeded eight pounds in weight. The “Belle” also proved an effective fly for landlocked salmon as well. Well over one-hundred thirty years later, my fly fishing relatives, my friends, a number of my customers, and me, have all caught trout on this fly in waters scattered across the country. I have customers every year who order some to fish with. Successful catches of fish on the Parmacheene Belle also includes the unexpected bonus of brown and rainbow trout. I’ve even heard tell of anglers out west catching cutthroat trout on them as well. Hairwing versions of this fly were among some early 20th century steelhead patterns; in fact Plate No. 11 in Bergman’s Trout presents a hairwing version of the Parmacheene Belle.

I have written a number of posts on this fly during the last four years since I started my blog, and if you care to research them, simply use the search tab, type in “Parmacheene Belle,” hit the enter key and off you go! It will bring up every article that is titled or even mentions this fly. I did a married-wing streamer version of this about three years ago.

My introduction to this pattern came through Trout, 1938, by Ray Bergman. It was a favorite pattern of his for catching large brook trout. In fact, in With Fly, Plug and Bait, 1947, Ray describes an occasion when he caught a large brook trout in Canada using a tandem wet fly rig consisting of two Parmacheene Belle wet flies, I believe they were both size #4. These flies were close together, much like a miniature tandem streamer.

The research for my ongoing book project, Favorite Fishing Flies – 1892, led me to the American Fly Fishing Museum in Manchester, Vermont, where the actual fly plates used in Mary Orvis Marbury’s 1892 book, Favorite Flies and Their Histories, are stored and occasionally placed on display. I had the privilege of gaining access to and viewing, studying, and photographing these historic fly plates. My work with them allowed me to ascertain many previously misidentified components of these patterns. This includes the tying recipes listed in every known publication that has claimed to represent these old wet fly patterns that were at one time cataloged by the Orvis Company. The problem was that Mary did not include the fly dressings for the patterns in her book. My research also led to to the 1883 book written by Charles F. Orvis and Albert Nelson Cheney, called Fishing With the Fly. In that book, there is a chapter called Fly Fishing in the Rangeley Region by Henry P. Wells, the originator of the Parmacheene Belle. In his chapter he presents the complete (almost- see below) original dressing for his pattern. I found it odd that the Orvis version did not feature the original white-with-red-stripe married wing that he specified, but rather, a simpler wing of married red and white in equal parts. Subsequent variations of this pattern developed over time, some no doubt modified to make them easier to tie commercially, and others as a result of unknown reasons.

A friend provided actual, custom-dyed mohair dubbing that I could use for the body, as specified by the originator. This mohair dubbing is available on John McClain’s website:

I also started tying and teaching the reverse-wing method that was widely used in the 19th century for mounting wings on practically all fishing flies. My reasoning for this is that the threads in use for fly tying at the time were made of either cotton or silk and lacked the tensile strength of modern threads. Therefore, to prevent wings pulling out of the flies, someone developed the method of mounting the wings to be tied in, backwards, with the butt ends facing to the rear, wrapped in place, then the forward portion of the feathers were folded over to make the wing of the fly, and a band of thread, resembling a collar, was wound in place over the folded butt end of the wings to provide the final stage of secure the feathers to the hook. This caused the heads of the fly to be large, bulky, and rather unattractive, but nonetheless, completely functional. This method also calls for longer sections of wing quills to complete the process; goose wings quills are my preference, and one must be careful regarding the proportions so that the finished, folded-back wing is properly sized to the hook.

This method also gave the flies of the day their characteristic high wing angle. My personal feeling is that too many tiers today attempt to replicate these historic flies, and they too often use the widely available goose shoulders for the wings. This material looks fine, depending on your point of view, but goose shoulder was used mostly to make “splits” or side-sections on wings to add extra colors to a pattern, and was not used on wings, according to the hundreds of antique flies that I have seen and studied. Goose shoulder was used to make wings and sometimes tails on the old lake, bass, and trout flies. Flies made like this today are perfectly acceptable in that they look fine, they display well, especially to an untrained eye, and they will catch fish, but with the inherent low, sleek-looking wing that goose shoulder renders, they are not historically accurate. I’m talking about the original patterns, not just following or substituting ingredients and then lashing them willy-nilly to the hook. I believe the accurate reproduction of these historic flies is important, and is something that should not be forgotten. Like our society and culture in general, even in fly tying, at times it seems like there is too much of an “anything goes” attitude.

Following that slight but pertinent digression, I present a historically accurate reproduction of the famous the Parmacheene Belle:

Parmacheene Belle, 2/0.

Parmacheene Belle, 2/0. The authentic silk gut leader is doubled at the head of the fly, creating what was known as a “helper” or bite guard. This was either whipped with thread and varnished, or knotted an inch or so ahead of the head of the fly, and then another loop was made on the leader to provide a snelled loop-to-loop connection. The bite guard was thought to strengthen the leader and prevent the fish from breaking off the fly at this critical joint in the connection. This specimen also features the traditional closed-wing, tip-down mounting of the quills that was most popular at the time. Red was often used as a finishing thread on old flies.

Here is Henry Wells’ written narration of his recipe description for the Parmacheene Belle, taken from the text of his chapter in Fishing With the Fly:

“This fly somewhat resembles the No Name figured as No. 15 of Lake Flies in this book. As I tie it, the tail is two strands of white and two of scarlet; the body of yellow mohair, with silver tinsel; the hackle double; first white, with scarlet hackle wound over this – capping the former, so to speak; the wing white, striped with scarlet. By scarlet, the color of the scarlet ibis is to be understood.”

Wells does not mention the tag or butt components, but these ingredients, determined by my visible inspection of the 1893 Orvis Fly Display in the American Museum of Fly Fishing, are silver tinsel and peacock herl. Cosmetically speaking, especially considering the head, this is not representative of my “cleanest, most tidy” work. But that is not the intent with this article. My desire was to accurately replicate an actual 19th century Parmacheene Belle Lake Fly, as if you went back in time. I believe this is right on to what you would find in 19th century fishing fly store bins. The 2/0 hook was not outlandishly large for a brook trout upwards of five pounds.

My friend, Roger Plourde, has vintage silk gut for sale in various sizes, the price is $15.00. His e-mail is:

I decided to include and re-post the photo of my Parmacheene Belle Streamer as well:

Parmacheene Belle Streamer

Parmacheene Belle Streamer, dressed on a 4x long hook. This older version features a yellow-dubbed body, rabbit fur. This fly illustrates is a little more “polished” representation of my fly tying.

Some of you might have noted a recent reduction in my posts here over the last few months. The reason for that is that I have been extremely busy since mid-November. I’ve added a couple new and significant and fun things to my life, one of which is drumming. I resurrected my musical ability and involvement after years  of inactivity. My rock band disbanded in 1979, and other than an occasional performance in church or at a theater musical, I haven’t played in years. My late wife, Lou Anne, and I sang in a gospel quartet for twenty-seven years, and I have not sung anywhere since our last performance in August of 2006. She passed seven years ago this month.

I started off as a substitute drummer in a local classic rock band for a New Year’s Eve gig. Considering my schedule of two November fly tying shows, Thanksgiving, deer season, and Christmas, I ended up having to learn over sixty songs in two weeks. In early February, my drumming with the Pepper Street Band suddenly became a full-time position due to the fact their regular drummer has developed a serious health issue that has side-lined him for a while.

Right after New Year’s Day I also committed to joining the contemporary praise and worship band, Firstborn, at Pine Street United Methodist Church in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, where I have the added musical experience and fun of playing an electronic drum set. I also started singing again, mostly regular visits with friends to karaoke bars where I sing anything from George Thorogood to Toby Keith to Trace Adkins, ZZ Top, Billy Joel, Georgia Satellites, Fabulous Thunderbirds, Van Morrison, Lynyrd Skynyrd, even Frank Sinatra. I’m also the newest member of Cornerstone, the contemporary choir at Pine Street church as well. Firstborn performs every Sunday at the 8:30 service, and Cornerstone sings at the same service twice a month. Plus, I sing the lead vocals on a half-dozen of the songs on the Pepper Street playlist. Here’s a link to their song list:

Don’t worry folks, I’m not giving up my fly tying career! Just suddenly having a lot more fun! I thank God for my renewed good health! I also found out the best thing to do with negative, toxic, trash-talking people who try to mess with or mess up your life is to forget them and not address them in any way. That’s healthy too! Besides, it is impossible to reason with people who habitually spread rumors and prevaricate the truth about someone else for their own, selfish interests and perceived personal gain. You know what they say:”What goes around comes around.”

I’ve gotten more active on facebook; my band gigs and schedule is generally posted there, along with a link from my blog as well. Anyone interested in following my more personal and / or musical activity, just let me know, besides a friend request, please include a PM.

Thank you all for your many years of support! I am personally grateful to each of you for your belief in me and what I do. Me? I’m having too much fun, doing what I’ve always done, and going back to my musical roots. I was singing and playing drums before I ever started tying flies. Adding the music and meeting so many new people who are nice, decent folk, has already brought new friends into my life. I have a feeling this is only going to get better!

Emerging March Brown Soft-Hackle – Flymph

My friend Bill in Maryland sent me this photo of a March Brown Soft-hackle / Flymph that he recently tied all in the style of and following the recipe of Vernon L. “Pete” Hidy. Bill is an excellent tier and does great work on these patterns. Here is the e-mail message from Bill. I started off asking him a question about this fly, was it a soft-hackle or a flymph? Here is Bill’s reply, the fly photo, and recipe.

“Technically it’s both; all flymphs are soft hackles. “Flymph” is the term coined by Pete Hidy to describe the type of pattern that Jim Leisenring developed to imitate the stage between a nymph and an adult. Here’s the recipe for this Pete Hidy version of an emerging March Brown as published in T. Donald Overfield’s Famous Flies and their Originators. (Note: Both Leisenring and Hidy used large ribs on many of their patterns, so I substituted for the ribbing in the Overfield recipe to make it look more like their original flies.) Great tying Bill!

Pete Hidy style Emerging March Brown, dressed and photographed by Bill Shuck.

Pete Hidy style Emerging March Brown, dressed and photographed by Bill Shuck.

Emerging March Brown Soft-hackle / Flymph

Hook: Long shank mayfly, Size #12 Mustad R50U

Thread: Pearsall’s Gossamer silk, #19 hot orange

Hackle: Brown partridge

Tail whisks: Brown partridge

Rib: Gudebrod “D” rod winding thread (sub for Primrose silk or gold wire)

Body: Blend of hare’s poll (90%) and orange-brown wool (10%) spun in orange silk thread on a Clark spinning block.

Very nice tying job, Bill! Thanks for sharing the photo and information!

Martinis and Thread Wraps

I’m sitting here tying some classic Fanwing Royal Coachman drys, just started on some #8 hooks; all two dozen hooks #8, #10,#12, have the wings already mounted, so the hard part is done! This thought hit me as I set the tinsel tag on the first hook:

What is the similarity between Martinis and thread wraps to secure tags, tails, floss, ribbing?

One is not enough, three is too many!

Yup. Tie in and wrap the tag, secure with two wraps. Add the tail, secure with two wraps. Add the peacock herl for the rear of the body, and here of course you have to wrap forward to the hook point. I’ll try to get photos to post before I ship the order.

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:

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:

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!