Streamer Four Packs

Hey everyone – I know I have just about always posted wet flies here.
Here is something different: some streamers, eight of them in two four-packs.
I am trying a new packaging arrangement for the shows this year, so the first photo features a Carrie Steven’s Quartet; the Gray Ghost, Merry Widow, Big Ben (the first actual fly where I cemented the wings beforehand), and America.

Gray Ghost, Merry Widow, Big Ben, and America.

They are mounted (wired) onto my streamer cards, (old phone number – don’t call it!), which are glued to card-stock, and packed in small gift boxes.

Update added July 29: Last night and this morning I was tying more Stevens’ patterns, and also reading the Graydon and Leslie Hilyard book, Carrie Stevens – Maker of Rangeley Favorite Trout and Salmon Flies (2000, 2011 – Stackpole Books); and noticed some photos of early authentic Carrie Stevens patterns. One was Pattern No. 11 and it is “wired” onto the card through the eye and at the bend, like I mounted these. Other fly tiers of the New England tradition actually used to “staple” their flies to the card, sometimes right through the cellophane sleeve locking the hook in place. The was done for expedience; hey, they were just fishin’ flies. I believe the wire idea is the best, though requiring a bit more effort. It certainly provides for the best presentation of the fly. I had previously used this same method to mount flies to mat board for framing, starting back about 1998, and at that time I had never seen any photos, much less originals, of Carrie Steven’s or anyone’s flies wired to cards. About eight years ago, I had a bunch of streamer patterns tied up for sale, and not wanting to use the staples, and wiring I thought, too time-consuming, so I used a small piece of scotch tape over the hook point to keep the fly in position. That worked alright, but the tape will likely deteriorate and discolor over time. Again, for fishin’ flies, it worked just fine. I have recently returned to the wiring method as being the most secure, and most attractive as well.

Gray Ghost and Big Ben

You know, when I first started tying the Steven’s patterns for framing in the early 1980’s, I used to use her “trademark” banded head. I simply believed it was the final detail to her patterns. Then for some reason I stopped doing it and didn’t do it for years. Actually I wasn’t tying many streamers anyway, after discovering the Wooly Bugger in the late ’70’s. The streamers I did tie were traditional patterns for use in Maine, since I first started fishing the Moosehead Lake area in 1986.

In 1998 the streamer chapter of over one thousand patterns was added to the book Forgotten Flies, for which I had replicated all the flies of all types from Ray Bergman’s books. I tied about 240 streamers for that chapter, plus I had already tied all the streamer and bucktail patterns that were published in Ray Bergman’s books. Most folks only know I did the wet flies, but I tied everything; drys, wets, nymphs, streamers, bucktails, and even the steelhead flies.

While some fly tiers may consider the banding Carrie’s signature, it is important to note that the colors she used are also integrated into the pattern design. She used different threads for the head and different colors for the band; like a red head with a black band on the Colonel Bates, black head with red band on the Gray Ghost and many others, a black head with orange band as on the Big Ben, and on the America, Casablanca, and Victory, what else but red, white, and blue. This triple-banded head is also on the General MacArthur. I suddenly asked myself: “How can I tie a General MacArthur with a black head?”

Can I make the head red only? Nope. Too distracting. White? Are you kidding? I think too overpowering. Blue? Uhhh…guess not. (I actually tied a general MacArthur last night, four days after I posted this – and the blue head didn’t look all that bad). Well, separately these colors may all match the pattern to a degree, but I think Carrie Stevens imagined and created her patriotic series of streamers with American patriotic colors in mind for finishing the heads.

And then I answered myself, “It’s gotta be red, white, and blue.”

Merry Widow and America

OK, so some may say that’s OK, in keeping with the theme of the patriotic pattern concept, but not on any of her other patterns.

I’m presenting more of my case here, please bear with me. Other known fly tiers, in particular Bill Edson (originator of the Edson Light and Dark Tigers, Bill Special, Dot Edson streamers), comes to mind. Bill designed streamers with different color heads; yellow, white, & silver for instance. In tying Bill’s patterns, would we be correct in changing the head color he specified? I don’t think so.

I know for a fact some won’t agree with me, but I just realized that if I’m tying Carrie Stevens’ patterns, then I think the fly should be true to her original design, right down to and including the head. I have become convinced of this, after years, a couple decades almost; of being in the camp of those saying “don’t copy Carrie Steven’s banded heads.

When Wendell Folkins bought the business from Carrie Stevens in the 1950’s, he continued to tie Carrie’s patterns with the banded heads. There are photos of Carrie’s patterns in the book Trolling Flies for Trout and Salmon, tied by Wendell. These are Carrie’s patterns, and when he replicated them and sold them to her customers, and to new customers he acquired, he used her head colors and the banding technique. Use of his technique was not forgery of Carrie Steven’s fly signature, it seems pretty certain that Mr. Folkins surely did it at Carrie’s request to indicate the patterns were of her origin or her variation.

So after years of being on both sides of this discussion, I think that designation ought to continue. I am doing the banded heads on Carrie’s patterns, and I will continue to do so.

The second box contains well-known Maine patterns; the Footer Special, Supervisor, Barnes Special, and Nine-Three.

Footer Special, Supevisor, Barnes Special, Nine-Three

The photos aren’t the best, but I was too busy today to really get intense with them…I hope you don’t mind. Thanks for reading this. I used Mike Martinek / Carrie Stevens Gaelic Supreme Rangeley Style hooks, sizes #1 and #2, 8x long to dress these flies.

Footer Special and Barnes Special

Supervisor and Nine-Three

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6 comments on “Streamer Four Packs

  1. […] Don Bastian Streamers Posted on July 27, 2011 by pacres Click here for a preview of some of Don’s flies. […]

  2. Lornce says:

    Wonderful stuff Don

  3. Hi Don, I have a passion for tying flies that rivals no one I think. I am from Maine and love tying Carrie’s beautiful streamers. I do sell some on ebay but I need to advance my tying more. I got everything nailed down (I think) except for the throat and I have to start tying the wings on the side. If you could email me some more detailed directions to tying the throat I would appreciate it. Oh, one of my customers compared my talents to the same level as yours. I kindly asked if he was on medication…. 🙂 I really admire your work but you had better watch out for the kid from central Maine!!! I’m just playing. I would love for you to maybe look at my some of my streamers to critique them. A lady here in southern Maine doesn’t do the striped head “out of respect”. Yet you do it out of respect. I was with the lady at first but from what I just read where Carrie sold her business and told the guy to keep tying the banding on the head. So now I am with you and it is pretty hard to not side with the Mainer. Hope to hear from you!

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Stanley;
      I appreciate your comment! I am pretty sure I posted an article with photos of the throat hackle process, in a step-by-step tutorial. It is done the way Carrie did it using several bunches of fibers, layering them to create bulk, working toward the head space. She mounted her wings on the sides of the hook / thread base area, and tilted them upward at about 10 degrees. I also place some hackle fibers on top, in between the wing mounting section. Mike Martinek also does this, but my technique differs from his. This helps the wings seat without caving in. The hackle method I use is the same way that is illustrated in the Hilyard book, by the way. I probably have my own personal manipulation procedure though, getting the fibers placed, and then the thread wraps are another matter, kind of delicate, winding with just enough tension to lay them down, without using too much tension that would force the fibers out of position. In other words, you wrap over the fibers, capture them, then apply tension to secure them. The butt ends of the hackle bunches should cover from about 11 or 12 o’clock on the shank to ideally, 6 o’clock on the bottom. Each added bunch covers the tie in point of the previous bunch. And generally I finish off with a single bunch in front, bottom center, to make sure any gaps in the throat are closed.
      Good luck with the tying! I guess you must be doing pretty well if someone compared your work to mine. Keep it up! 🙂

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