Kelley’s Killer – Carrie Stevens Pattern

A year or so ago, I posted the Kelley’s Killer as presented in the Carrie Stevens book, “Carrie Stevens: Maker of Rangeley Favorite Trout and Salmon Flies,” 2000, by Graydon and Leslie Hilyard. I tied three of them according to the recipe presented in their fine book. As it turns out there is another version of the Kelley’s Killer, tied by none other than the “First Lady of Rangeley Streamers” herself (my own play on words), Mrs. Carrie G. Stevens. My friend Jim Kennedy, bought an original Kelley’s Killer tied by Carrie Stevens, last year at the Somerset, New Jersey, Fly Fishing Show. This fly is an eye-opener. It is a “full-dress” version of her streamer tying, identical to the famous Gray Ghost in every single component. Tag, ribbing, body, hackle, wing shoulders, and here is where it gets interesting: Peacock herl underbelly, golden pheasant crest underwing, plus a golden pheasant crest to finish off the throat. Like I said, it is identical in each single part, to the last detail, as her Gray Ghost. The only things different are the materials and the colors. Here you go:

Kelley's Killer, original streamer tied by Carrie G. Stevens.

Kelley’s Killer, original streamer tied by Carrie G. Stevens. Note also the wing, not silver badger as listed in the Hilyard book, but golden  badger over lavender. Also the additional differences: Golden pheasant crest underwing, peacock herl underbelly, golden pheasant crest on the throat.

This makes me wonder. I know the Hilyards did extensive research and had very high standards on the process to certify “original” patterns by Carrie Stevens. Did she later add the extra components to this fly to schmaltz it up? One thing is sure, I like this one better than the one presented in the Hilyard book. Nothing against them at all, I love their book! But seeing an original, as opposed to a replicated pattern tied by someone other than the originator of the pattern; even if well-researched; well, I’m putting my money on this version that I see with my eyes as the “official” Carrie Stevens Kelley’s Killer. It could be as Chris Del Plato suggested, a variation of the pattern. But what a variation it is. More pics:

Kelley'dsd Killer, this is aan original streamer dressed by Carrie Stevens. Photo by Don Bastian. Fly courtesy of Jim Kennedy.

Kelley’s Killer, this is an original streamer dressed by Carrie Stevens. Photo by Don Bastian. Fly courtesy of Jim Kennedy.

Head, shoulder, and card macro, Kelley's Killer tied by Carrie G. Stevens of Upper Dam, Maine.

Head, shoulder, and card macro, a size #2 Kelley’s Killer tied by Carrie G. Stevens of Upper Dam, Maine.

Kelley's Killer - dressed by Carrie Stevens. Photo by Don Bastian. From the collection of Jim Kennedy. Hook size #2.

Kelley’s Killer – dressed by Carrie Stevens. Photo by Don Bastian. From the collection of Jim Kennedy. Hook size #2.

Kelley’s Killer – Carrie Stevens Recipe:

Body: Flat silver tinsel; * differs from Hilyard version of orange floss w/silver tinsel ribbing

Underbelly: 4 – 6 strands peacock herl; * additional from Hilyard version, followed by white bucktail

Throat: Lavender fibers, followed by a golden pheasant crest feather curving upward; * both components differ from Hilyard version

Underwing: Golden pheasant crest as long as the wing, curving downward; * additional from Hilyard version

Wing: Two lavender hackles with one slightly shorter golden badger hackle on each side; * golden badger differs from silver badger on Hilyard version

Shoulder: Tan-tipped Amherst pheasant feather

Cheek: Jungle cock

Head: Black with orange band

In all, this Kelley’s Killer tied by Carrie Stevens has six different components compared to the Hilyard pattern.

Last but not least, my humble version of the Kelley’s Killer, pattern recipe from the Hilyard book:

Kelley's Killer - Carrie Stevens pattern, dressed and photographed by Don Bastian.

Kelley’s Killer – Carrie Stevens pattern, dressed and photographed by Don Bastian. From a couple years ago; this was before I learned that the hackle, underbelly, underwing should all be the same length as the wing when dressing Carrie Stevens patterns according to her design specifications. “Ya’ don’t just tie the fly any old way and assume it is a correctly-dressed Carrie Stevens pattern.” – I said that.

And a threesome of Kelley’s Killers, all dressed by me: Better things to come in the new, expanded, and I’ll make certain, properly dressed to Mrs. Stevens’s Rangeley Streamer specs Kelley’s Killer soon to be tied:

Three Kelley's Killers, a Carrie Stevens original pattern,  tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Three Kelley’s Killers, a Carrie Stevens original pattern, tied and photographed by Don Bastian. They all need longer bucktail underbellies.

And the head and shoulder macro:

Kelley's Killer - head, shoulders, and cheek. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Kelley’s Killer – head, shoulders, and cheek. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Jim did give me permission  to “fix” the fly. The wings were crooked. So I did. Before the pics. I told him that steaming the fly would restore it. Indeed. He said when he got it back it looked better than when he bought it. How cool was it for me to hand-hold a Carrie Stevens original? Very! Thank you Jim!

Queen of the Waters – Carrie Stevens Streamer Pattern

Mary Orvis Marbury’s book, Favorite Flies and Their Histories, 1892, contains information on the wet fly pattern, Queen of the Water. It is pattern No. 195, and the information begins on p. 351 in her book.

Marbury writes, “The Queen of the Water is credited to both Professor John Wilson (“Christopher North”) and his brother, the naturalist, Professor James Wilson.” The Wilson brothers were from Scotland. John Wilson also created the Professor wet fly in 1820. It is plausible to assume that the Queen of the Water wet fly pattern is nearly as old.

Marbury also writes of a possible connection between the Professor and Queen of the Water, the Professor without the scarlet ibis tail, being very similar to the Queen, except for the palmer hackle on the body of the latter, and a minor variation of the body color.

Additional text in Favorite Flies continues: “It is claimed by old fishermen the Professor fly was originally made without the bits of scarlet ibis representing the stylets of an insect, and many experienced fishermen of today cut these fibres of ibis feather off, while others consider the fly useless without them. If, as is asserted, the Professor was first made without them, then there was very little difference between the Professor and the Queen of the Water, except that the body of the latter is of a darker shade of yellow, almost an orange, and the hackle is wound the entire length of the body; therefore it is reasonable to assume the two are only variations of the original fly, which in time came to be known as two distinct patterns.” Most anglers refer to the Queen of the Waters with an “s” on the end.

The Carrie Stevens version of the Queen of the Waters streamer was published in Forgotten Flies, Complete Sportsman, 1999. In the chapter titled, The Rangeley Region, Carrie Stevens, and Beyond, there is a fold-out photo gallery page that includes an original Queen of the Waters streamer tied by Carrie Stevens. This fly was another of her wet-fly-streamer conversion patterns, yet the book, Carrie Stevens: Maker of Rangeley Favorite Trout and Salmon Flies, Stackpole Books, 2000, by Graydon and Leslie Hilyard, does not include the Queen of the Waters. Furthermore, the reproduced Queen of the Waters Stevens pattern in the text and photos of Forgotten Flies varies from the photograph of the Stevens original. The reproduced pattern recipe includes a belly of white bucktail, with a body of flat silver tinsel. Careful study of the photo of the original Queen of the Waters tied by Carrie reveals a body of orange floss with a tag and ribbing of flat silver tinsel. That makes more sense as well, in comparison to the orange floss body on the original wet fly pattern. The old adage, “Seeing is believing,” is relevant in this case. My choice is to believe what I see, rather than place trust in written text that conflicts with what is clearly visible to the eye. The fact that there exists a photograph of an original Queen of the Waters streamer pattern originated and tied by Carrie Stevens, offering the opportunity for visual inspection is good enough for me.

Here is a photo of my rendition of the Queen of the Waters, still in my vise:

Queen of the Waters streamer, Carrie Stevens pattern.

Queen of the Waters streamer, Carrie Stevens pattern. The lighting and image may not be great, but it’s kind of like “mood lighting,” or how things may sometimes appear when viewed in dim light.

Queen of the Waters - the hook is a size #2 - 8x long - gaelic Suptreme Martinek / Stevens Rangeley Style Streamer.

Queen of the Waters – the hook is a size #2 – 8x long – Gaelic Supreme Martinek / Stevens Rangeley Style Streamer.

Queen of the Waters

Considering the facts presented above, the recipe for Carrie Stevens Queen of the Waters streamer according to the photo of her original pattern is:

Tag: Flat silver tinsel

Ribbing: Flat silver tinsel

Body: Orange floss

Throat: Brown hackle fibers

Wing: Four white hackles

Shoulders: Gray mallard

Cheeks: Jungle cock

Head: Black with an orange band

This topic is the result of one of my subscribers in England writing to ask if I knew any history of a Queen of the Waters streamer pattern. I had remembered the pattern being included in Forgotten Flies, and we exchanged some correspondence on the subject. The end result was I decided to tie this pattern and post it here. Thank you Darrell!

Queen of the Waters -

Queen of the Waters – tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Forgotten Flies lists the head band color as red, and while it is difficult to confirm this from the photograph of Carrie’s fly, I believe the band is orange, which again, seems to go hand-in-hand with the body color of her version of this traditional wet fly pattern.

By the way, the recent Stevens streamers published here, the Donald Bartlett series, and this fly, have head cement of clear Pro Lak (available in Canada). It seems to go on with no bubbles and no discoloration, but it does take five coats. That is worth the time if it holds up well.

Brook trout and landlocked salmon seem to be attracted to many predominantly white streamers and bucktail patterns. I have never tied (or fished) this pattern prior to tying this first specimen shown here, but like so many other flies, it would most likely fish well.

Don’s Special – Carrie Stevens Pattern

The Don’s Special is one of three patterns created by Carrie G. Stevens of Upper Dam, Maine, in the 1930’s or early 1940’s for her friend and guide client of her husband Wallace, George Donald Bartlett. Don, as he was known, was extremely proud of the fact that Carrie named three flies after him, this according to his daughter, Lucy Bartlett Crosby.

The Don’s Special is very similar to another Stevens pattern, the Blue Dragon. Here, I must interject: The Blue Dragon, in the photo of an original tied by Carrie Stevens in the Graydon and Leslie Hilyard book, Carrie Stevens: Maker of Rangeley Favorite Trout and Salmon Flies, 2000, is quite clearly shown wearing the blue hackles on the outside of the wing, though the written recipe in Hilyard’s book has the blue hackle inside the outer wing of grizzly. I have studied the photo of Carrie’s Blue Dragon fly with a magnifier, and also asked several other fly tiers their opinion on the wing of the Blue Dragon. We all concur that the hackle order of the wing on the Blue Dragon, inside out, is: gray, grizzly, blue. This also makes so much more sense for the pattern name, Blue Dragon, as opposed to the placement of grizzly hackles on the outside of the wing. Finally there is a very noticeable difference in the appearance of the Don’s Special when compared to the Blue Dragon. Both patterns in the Hilyard book are Stevens originals; the Blue Dragon is obviously quite blue in its overall color scheme, while the wing of the Don’s Special is predominantly grizzly.

The other two patterns Carrie named after Don Bartlett are the Don’s Delight and the G. Donald Bartlett. I recently posted the G. Donald Bartlett, and I will follow up here on my blog before too long with the Don’s Delight. All the Carrie Stevens patterns I post here are placed in my Carrie Stevens Pattern Dictionary category, under the heading category of Streamers and Bucktails. Don’t forget to use the Search Tab when you may want to locate something here on my blog.

All three of the Bartlett patterns are part of a set of Carrie Steven’s Collector’s Edition Flies that I package and sell on MyFlies.com. http://www.myflies.com/Carrie-Stevens-Streamer-Patterns-Collectors-Edition-Set-No-6-P785.aspx

Here are some photos and the recipe:

Don's Special - tied and photographed by Don Bastian. The hook is a Gaelic Supreme Martinek / Stevens Rangeley style streamer, No. 2 - 8x long.

Don’s Special – tied and photographed by Don Bastian. The hook is a Gaelic Supreme Martinek / Stevens Rangeley style streamer, No. 2 – 8x long.

Don's Special - card-mounted. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Don’s Special – card-mounted. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian. (Note: that’s not my current phone number). It is: 570-998-9124.

Don’s Special

Hook: Standard long shank streamer hook, 6xl to 10 xl, size #1 to #8

Thread: Depending on hook size, heavier thread such as Danville 3/0 Monocord or Uni-Thread 3/0 may be used for the underbody beneath the tinsel. The advantage of using heavier thread on the hook shank is a quicker build of the thread underbody because fewer thread wraps means faster tying. Since this pattern has a tinsel body, black thread could be used. The Uni is much heavier than the Danville 3/0 due to inconsistencies of the aught thread rating system among thread manufacturers. For accurate thread ratings refer to the Denier system.

Tag: Flat silver tinsel

Tail: Yellow hackle fibers

Body: Flat silver tinsel

Throat: Yellow

Wing: Two blue hackles, flanked on each side by two gray hackles flanked on each side by two natural grizzly hackles

Cheeks: Jungle cock

Head: Black with a red band

The wings were cemented beforehand using Elmer’s Rubber Cement. I have found this the best cement to use. It is inexpensive, readily available, it lasts underwater, – and I know because of a 36-hour soaking experiment, and it is durable – because of three-hundred violent hand shakes of rubber-cemented wing after aforementioned 36-hour soaking. It does not bleed through, it sets quickly but not too fast, and it can be used right from the bottle without the time of leaving it sit to “cure” as some cements / tiers prefer to do with other brands of cement or nail  polish, until it reaches the “desired consistency.” I tend to build my streamers wings from the inside out. I prefer to cement them, after 48 years of fly tying, as opposed to assembly separately as illustrated in my DVD Traditional Streamers and Bucktails, 2007, Bennett-Watt Entertainment. http://www.myflies.com/DVD-Traditional-Streamers-and-Bucktails-P622.aspx

Don's Special -

Don’s Special – tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

G. Donald Bartlett – Carrie Stevens Pattern

The G. Donald Bartlett streamer is one of three patterns created by Carrie G. Stevens of Upper Dam, Maine, in honor of George Donald Bartlett, of Willimantic, Connecticut. Don as he was known, made his first visit to Upper Dam at age nine in 1909. For thirty-six years, Don made annual trips, sometimes two a year, to Upper Dam. Don met Charles E. “Shang” Wheeler around 1920, and they became friends. It was Shang who gave Carrie streamer hooks and materials in 1920 and encouraged her to try tying some flies.

Mr. Bartlett was a client of Carrie’s husband, Wallace, who was a guide at Upper Dam. The other two streamers Carrie created and named after Donald Bartlett are the Don’s Delight and the Don’s Special. According to Don’s daughter, Lucy Bartlett Crosby, he and Carrie shared ideas for new patterns, and Don enjoyed trying them out. “He was extremely proud of the fact that she named three flies for him…” Notes from: Carrie Stevens: Maker of Rangeley Favorite Trout and Salmon Flies, Stackpole Books, 2000. Sadly Donald Bartlett passed away in 1945 at age forty-five.

G. Donald Bartlett Streamer, tied and photogaphed by Don Bastian. The hooki is a aelic Supreme Martinek  Stevens Rangeley Style Streamer, size #2 - 8x long

G. Donald Bartlett Streamer, tied and photogaphed by Don Bastian. The hook is a Gaelic Supreme Martinek / Stevens Rangeley Style Streamer, size #2 – 8x long.

G. Donald Bartlett streamer, same fly as photo no. 1, tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

G. Donald Bartlett streamer, same fly as photo no. 1 but flat on a background mat, tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

G. Donald Bartlett streamer, carded, and ready for packaging. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

G. Donald Bartlett streamer, carded, and ready for packaging. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

G. Donald Bartlett

Hook: Any standard 6x or 8x long streamer hook

Thread: White Uni-Thread 3/0 or Danville 3/0 Monocord for underbody working thread (as an underlayment for the floss), then white Danville 6/0 for attaching floss and finishing up to the head.

Tag: Flat silver tinsel

Tail: Lavender hackle fibers

Ribbing: Flat silver tinsel

Body: Danville #7 Orange floss, four strand

Throat: Lavender hackle fibers – these were applied Stevens style – six bunches, three per side, and finishing with one small bunch mounted in front center of the throat at the head

Wing: Four white hackles flanked on each side by one slightly shorter grizzly hackle dyed yellow

Head: Black Danville #100 with an Orange #7 band

For a tutorial on the Rangeley / Carrie Stevens style of the layering of the throat and setting the asembled wings, go to:

http://donbastianwetflies.com/2013/01/13/carrie-stevens-and-rangeley-style-streamers/

To view or purchase my Carrie Stevens Collector’s Edition Set featuring the Don’s Delight, Don’s Special, and G. Donald Bartlett streamers,go to:

http://www.myflies.com/Carrie-Stevens-Streamer-Patterns-Collectors-Edition-Set-No-6-P785.aspx

White Nose Pete

White Nose Pete was a legend that surfaced in Maine 1897. He was supposedly a giant brook trout that lived in the Rangeley Lakes Region, specifically in the Upper Dam Pool that connected Mooselucmaguntic Lake with Molechunkamunk Lake, which by then had been renamed Upper Richardson Lake. The legend later became a poem written by Charles E. “Shang” Wheeler, and also a wood carving he made of a brook trout’s giant head. Shang was well known as a decoy carver, having won first place twelve years in a row in the amateur division at the annual International Decoy Maker’s Contest held at the National Sportsman’s Show in New York City.

The legend of White Nose Pete persisted into the 1940’s. Shang’s carving of White Nose Pete is the head of a large, leviathan brook trout, with flies embedded about his jaw like a pincushion, that lived in the deep recesses of the pool at Upper Dam, Maine. He always managed to break the leader of any angler that was lucky enough to hook him. The book by Graydon and Leslie Hilyard, Carrie Stevens: Maker of Rangeley Favorite Trout and Salmon Flies, 2000, contains a full account of the legend, the carving, and the story of it being a hoax perpetrated by Shang Wheeler and Carrie and Wallace Stevens against Captain Joseph Bates.

Among my list of Rangeley-themed streamer patterns, I decided to created a streamer named White Nose Pete, though for some time the pattern existed only in name and concept. Interestingly enough, last July, about two months after White Nose Pete was created, still existing as an idea solely in my mind, I got a request from one of my fly-collector customers, who also happens to be a decoy carver and is very familiar with Shang Wheeler. He sent me an e-mail asking me to create a streamer named White Nose Pete. I was one step ahead of my customer at that stage. My customer’s request provided the impetus to create the pattern. I chose the ingredients, selecting green-dyed grizzly, black, and olive hackles for the wings. The colors and markings on these feathers represent the vermiculations on the back of a brook trout, and the throat is orange, black, and white, to mimic the coloration of a brook trout’s fins. Olive floss body and tail are also imitative of a brook trout. Here is the resulting pattern:

White Nose Pete -

White Nose Pete – size #1 – 8x long Gaelic Supreme Martinek / Stevens Rangeley Style streamer hook. Originated, tied, and photographed by Don Bastian.

White Nose Pete

Tag: Flat silver tinsel

Tail: Olive hackle fibers

Ribbing: Flat silver tinsel

Body: Olive floss

Underbelly: White bucktail

Underwing: Four to six strands peacock herl

Throat: Orange hackle fibers, then black hackle fibers, then white hackle fibers

Wing: Two black hackles flanked on each side by one green-dyed grizzly hackle, flanked by one olive hackle

Shoulders: A black-dyed duck or hen body feather

Cheeks: Jungle cock

Head: Black with front half of head white

White Ghost – Carrie Stevens Streamer Pattern

The White Ghost is almost totally unknown compared to its famous sister pattern, the Gray Ghost. The Gray Ghost is the most well-known, most famous, and most enduring streamer pattern ever created. That sales and popularity record belonging to Carrie Stevens will quite likely never be replaced. Both patterns are identical in every way, except for the color of the wing.

I wrote a post a few months back about the curious and interesting omission of the white throat component on the Gray Ghost. Going back as far back as 1950, three books at least that I am aware of, described and discussed the white hackle throat on the Gray Ghost in the text portion, but yet for some strange reason, all three books failed to include the white hackle fibers as part of the written pattern recipe. Of course, the white throat is part of the pattern for the Gray Ghost. It makes complete sense that Carrie Stevens would have duplicated all the components on both of these related patterns. Though I realize most Gray Ghosts tied over these many decades were tied without the white throat. I say better late than never to make the correction. To read my original post on this topic go to: http://donbastianwetflies.wordpress.com/2012/09/12/gray-ghost-white-ghost/

The books that discuss the white hackle throat on the Gray Ghost, but yet omit the component in the written recipe are: Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing, 1950, by Joesph D. Bates; Trolling Flies for Trout and Salmon, 1982, by Dick Stewart and Bob Leeman; and Carrie Stevens: Maker of Rangeley Favorite Trout and Salmon Flies, 2000, by Graydon and Leslie Hilyard. Hilyard’s book even has a sequence of photographs of tying the  Gray Ghost step-by-step, with the white hackle throat, but it’s not in the written pattern recipe in the same book. I’m not busting on anyone for these oversights, and I have no explanation for why or how this happened. All I know is that it happened. I find it interesting, and also I feel obligated to get this right. I’m sort of a stickler for detail and accuracy when it comes to fly patterns.

Here is the White Ghost:

White Ghost - size #@1 - 8x long - Gaelic Supreme Martinek / Stevens Rangeley Style streamer hook.

White Ghost – size #1 – 8x long – Gaelic Supreme Martinek / Stevens Rangeley Style streamer hook. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

White Ghost

Tag: Flat silver tinsel

Ribbing: Flat silver tinsel

Body: Orange floss

Underbelly: Four to six strands of peacock herl, followed by white bucktail, both as long as the wing

Underwing: Golden pheasant crest, as long as the wing, curving downward. I prefer this order of tying in, my personal feeling is to tie in the golden pheasant crest underwing before the throat.

Throat: White hackle fibers, then a shorter golden pheasant crest curving upward

Wing: Four white hackles

Shoulders: Silver pheasant body feathers

Cheeks: Jungle cock

Head: Black with an orange band

To view or purchase Don Bastian’s Carrie Stevens Collector’s Edition Set No. 5 featuring the White Ghost visit: http://www.myflies.com/Carrie-Stevens-Streamer-Patterns-Collectors-Edition-Set-No-5-P772.aspx

A Note From the Marlborough Show

I wanted to share one thing with my devoted readers, a real highlight for me, that happened at the Marlborough Fly Fishing Show this past weekend, and that was a visit to my table from Graydon Hilyard, author of Carrie Stevens: Maker of Rangeley Favorite Trout and Salmon Flies. About four in the afternoon on Friday, I was tying and looked up to see him standing at my table. I recognized him and said, “Hello Graydon.” His reaction was one of slight surprise I suppose since he may not have thought I knew who he was. He had actually bought a number of my classic wet fly sets some years ago, back in the early years of his book’s release.

He ended up spending a good twenty-five minutes there; we talked about streamers, wet flies, various things. He also noted my Footer Special 50th Anniversary Special streamer flies, and commented that he knew David Footer, but expressed some surprise in the age of Dave’s streamer pattern.

I also got the lowdown on Graydon’s book on Herb Welch. I know he’s been working on it since almost immediately after the Carrie Stevens book was finished. No details but he indicated it’s about two years until publication. We discussed the fact that Carrie Stevens and Herb Welch both had no children, so trying to do research on people with no direct descendents presents its problems. Graydon also was interested in the fact that I described how I was trying to locate a Carrie Stevens fly that is known to exist, but for which no specimens are known to exist. The name of the pattern shall remain nameless as I continue my research. He encouraged me to keep trying and not give up.

Finally, I was very honored when Graydon stopped by about an hour later and bought one of my Footer Special Anniversary Streamers. David Footer and his wife, Annette, stopped by Saturday, and I told him Graydon had bought one of the flies. David was delighted by that news!