Mustad Wet Fly Hooks

Just the other day as I was working on some wet flies, tying reproductions of the patterns from the color plates of Ray Bergman’s book, Trout, for another custom-ordered set of the framed wet fly color plates, I ran out of number 6 Mustad 3399 wet fly hooks. I was using a box like the one pictured here, and running out meant another thousand gone. So I went to my storage area and found this box – the 1000 pack – that I bought in 2007 when Mustad started to change their hook styles. Back then, in a panic, I had my wholesaler order direct for me – I got 6000 of them – six boxes of these #6’s, and as of now, I have one left after this one. I thought 6000 would last me quite a while. I am using these classic hooks on all my collector and framed wet flies, otherwise, for fishing flies I am using the current technology designed hooks on the market, Daiichi, TMC, MFC, Mustad, etc., which are better quality hooks made with high-carbon steel, chemically sharpened points, and mini-barbs.

I sold a few hundred of the vintage style hooks, but for the most part, out of 4000 #6 Mustad 3399 hooks, in four years, I have tied wet flies on about 3,700 of them. I have more of the 3399 size #8, #10, #12, & #14’s, and also I bought 1000 each of several sizes of the #94720 8x long streamer hooks. In all, I have about 14,000 more classic hooks, waiting…for thread, fur, feathers, tinsel. I am nevertheless a little concerned about running out of #6 wet fly hooks…just mildly. Guess I’ll have to keep my eyes open…and my fingers crossed.

Mustad #6 - 3399 Wet Fly Hooks - full box of 1000Mustad #6 - 3399 Wet Fly Hooks - 1000

Mustad #6 - 3399 Wet Fly Hooks - 1000

Hopatcong - pin-mounted in a frame, dressed on Mustad classic 3399 #6 hook.

Romeyn - pin mounted in a frame, dressed on classic Mustad 3399 #6 wet fly hook.

The Gray Ghost…

Gray Ghost streamer dressed by Don Bastian, and assembled wings for 1/2 dozen more. The hook is a Gaelic Supreme.....Rangeley Style streamer, size #1 - 8x long.

The Gray Ghost – unquestionably the most popular streamer pattern ever created. It has deservedly been tied and photographed to death, well no it hasn’t, in my humble opinion. People still love the Gray Ghost!
The Gray Ghost lives on! Here’s a little something I did to create a different photo image —
The 12 assembled wings surrounding the Gray Ghost streamer in the center are for a customer order of 1/2 dozen Gray Ghosts – (remember that fellow whose wife fished the collectible $15 Gray Ghost tied on the antique Edgar Sealey streamer hook…in the Adirondacks?). It’s in one of the other topics here on my blog along with photos of the nice trout she caught on it.

These assembled Gray Ghost wings are for his flies, they are made for #4 and #6 Mustad 3665A 6x long hooks (which was the old designation before the “S” series modified and changed the 3665A to a 7x specification.

Gray Ghost streamer and assembled Gray Ghost wings.

Gray Ghost tied by Don Bastian on size #1 - 8x long Gaelic Supreme Mike Martinek Carrie Stevens Rangeley Style streamer hook.

Here is the original Stevens pattern recipe for the Gray Ghost:

Thread: White Danville 6/0 Flymaster. Carrie used white thread underneath her light-colored floss bodies; this prevented darkening when wet from wrapping floss bodies over the black working thread generally in use at the time.

Hook: Gaelic Supreme Mike Martinek / Carrie Stevens Rangeley Style Size #1 to #8.

Tag: Flat silver tinsel

Body: Dressed thin with orange silk floss (or rayon floss).

Ribbing: Flat silver tinsel.

Belly: 5 – 6 strands peacock under which is a small bunch of white bucktail; both peacock and bucktail should be as long as or nearly as long as the wing.

Throat: A golden pheasant crest feather as long as the shoulder and curving upward.

Wing: A long golden pheasant crest feather as long as the wing, and curving downward, followed by four gray hackle feathers.

Shoulder: A Silver Pheasant body feather on each side.

Cheek: Jungle cock.

Head: Black with red band. The band on this fly has been painted on with red lacquer. Please see my older topic discussing Carrie Stevens’ head banding technique and my views on its use. I believe to keep the Carrie Stevens patterns fully accurate to the last detail of their original designs that the various colors of bands should be used. The topic I wrote on that presents I believe, credible evidence to support my view.

Since this fly photo was taken I have changed all Stevens head bands entirely to the use of thread and some proprietary techniques to achieve the best results. A few of the older Stevens patterns I posted here and elsewhere on the internet have no banded heads on them.

Traditional Streamers and Bucktails

Gray Ghost, Supervisor, Barnes Special, Black Ghost, Footer Special, Mickey Finn. Dressed by Don Bastian on Gaelic Supreme Mike Martinek / Carrie Stevens Rangeley Style Streamer Hooks, size #2 - 8x long.

These streamer flies were recently tied by me. These six patterns are the ones from my DVD, Traditional Streamers and Bucktails. This is the first time I have ever taken a group shot of them. The gray feathers in the Gray Ghost wing are from an old natural dun neck I had, bought probably well over twenty-five years ago. Unfortunately the larger feathers for big hooks are depleted, though I may be able to tie up some size #6 and smaller streamers from it yet.

The DVD, Traditional Streamers and Bucktails, is available on MyFlies.com. Here is a direct link to review the DVD information or place an order on my merchandise page of the site: http://www.myflies.com/Traditional-Streamers-and-Bucktails-P622.aspx Each order comes direct to me and will receive my personal attention.

In comparing this shade to some of the original Gray Ghost streamers tied by Carrie Stevens, this shade of dun gray feather is very similar to some of those that she had used when she was dressing her original Gray Ghosts. (Source for the photo comparisons: Carrie Stevens: Maker of Rangeley Favorite Trout and Salmon Flies, 2000, by Graydon Hilyard and Leslie Hilyard, and Forgotten Flies, 1999 – Complete Sportsman.

Carrie originated the Gray Ghost, and also was known to have tied the Supervisor and Black Ghost for her customers, as she tied numerous popular patterns of the time that she did not originate.

The Footer Special was originated by Maine taxidermist David Footer, the Mickey Finn by fellow Pennsylvanian John Alden Knight (who also originated The Solunar Tables), and the Barnes Special is the creation of C. Lowell Barnes as an adaptation of the Hurricane streamer. Mr. Barnes was a guide in the Sebago Lake Region of Maine.

The photo below is a double-shot version of these patterns:

Double-vision photo of the Black Ghost, Supervisor, Mickey Finn, Gray Ghost, Footer Special, and Barnes Special. I had not previously noted that these Black Ghosts are a wool-body version. I saw that somewhere, and for the sake of patterns and tying variation, included this version in my DVD, Traditional Streamers and Bucktails. These hooks are size #2 - 8x long Gaelic Supreme, Mike Martinek / Carrie Stevens Rangeley Style Streamer hooks.

Wet Fly Tying Classes at Great Feathers Fly Shop

Updates August 22:  Saturday is full. Sunday October 9th has a few spots left.

Two days of classes are confirmed.

Dates are:

Saturday October 8th

Sunday October 9th

As of today, Monday, August 22nd, an e-mail from shop owner Mike Watriss indicates that Saturday October 8 is FULL. I am pleased to see that the response so far is very good. Interest in learning to tie traditional, historic wet flies is high, and I am obviously delighted that some people still think an opportunity to learn from me is worthwhile.

The objective of this class is to teach students as much as they can absorb, starting with a basic wet fly pattern, gradually progressing through increasing levels of pattern difficulty and complexity, and concluding with a married-wing pattern(s). Registrants will receive a pattern and material list closer to the class dates. I always include personal orientation toward my student’s specific tying problems, difficulties, and requests. Printed material and relevant educational electronic document files that I have personally written and prepared over the past fifteen years  is also provided to the students.

Class size per day is limited to eight students. The fee is set at $75.00. Lunch is Dutch Treat at a deli across the road from the shop.

Contact Great Feathers for information about hours, registration, deposit, and with any other questions you may have. These classes are for fly tiers possessing intermediate and higher levels of tying skill.

Great Feathers Fly Shop

14824 York Road

Sparks, MD 21152-9317

(410) 472-6799

You can also click the Great Feathers link tab on the right side bar of this site. e-mail:    contact@greatfeathers.com

PS: I didn’t mention, I guess I assumed those considering this class know that I am the instructor.

Also, I would like to add, besides some wet fly recipes and information from Ray Bergman’s books; pattern information including techniques, styles, recipe variations, and a variety of tying methods and preferences is also sourced using the reference writings, drawings, and photographs of:
J. Edson Leonard, Helen Shaw, E. C. Gregg, Ray Ovington, Mary Dette, Rube Cross, Dave Hughes, and John Veniard. The topic of wet fly tying and fly tying in general is a well-diversified portion of my class instruction.

My class teaching and imparted knowledge of fly tying and fishing is the result of 47 years of my combined “education” as it were – the result of reading, experiencing, tying, fishing, observing, listening, and continuing to learn.

One fellow from Maine just e-mailed me last week to tell me since I taught the class in March up in Brewer for The Penobscot Fly Fishers:

“My wet flies have never been easier to tie or looked better,” since taking your class.

Carrie Stevens Streamer Patterns

An assortment of Carrie Steven’s streamer patterns tied by Don Bastian including the Gray Ghost, Charles E. Wheeler, General MacArthur, Judge, Don’s Delight, Colonel Bates, Blue Devil, etc. Most of them are tied on the fine English-made Gaelic Supreme Mike Martinek / Carrie Stevens Rangeley Style size #1 8x long hooks.

Let me say right off the top – I am far from an expert on this. Nevertheless I’d like to share my experience and what I have learned during a recent fly tying tour de force of these streamers.

Please refer to my post of last week titled; Streamer Four-Packs where I discussed my experience of tying Carrie Seven’s patterns … as I have off and on since the late 1960’s. For example, the Gray Ghost was in my streamer wallet, bracketed in sizes #4 through #12, tied by me on the old Mustad 3665A 6xl hooks when I was still in high school.
I finally did a few sets of streamer wings in June 2011 by cementing them for the very first time…and I decided to do this when my usual technique – tie in the wing, then the shoulder, then the cheek, using no glue, which has worked real well for me 98% of the time, did not work to my satisfaction. I was working on my first-ever Big Ben, and it was those golden pheasant tippet shoulder feathers that were giving me fits. They just didn’t want to lay down, not to mention stay straight.

After cementing my first set of streamer wings with Angler’s Corner cement provided by another tier, (I would have used Flexament but had none at the time), I settled on the use of Elmer’s Rubber Cement. It was the only option available to me, since my Flexament had thickened, I had no thinner, and the nearest fly shop is 22 miles one-way from my home. Ever since that first cemented wing, I have cemented the components on every streamer wing I have made ever since. I conducted tests in June of 2011, soaking cemented wings in water for up to 36 hours, and violent physical shaking to try to make the wings fall apart, which were unsuccessful. For test results on the Elmer’s Rubber cement, see: https://donbastianwetflies.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/carrie-stevens-streamers-cementing-wings/

Prior to my use of cement on streamer wings I always tied the wings in first, then the shoulders and cheeks, all one at a time. In the video segment of the Gray Ghost wing and other streamers in my DVD – Traditional Streamers and Bucktails –  there was no editing or second attempts there, as I set the wings on the Black Ghost, Barnes Special, and Gray Ghost in that order, I was even a little surprised during filming that my first attempt setting all these wings went off without a hitch. Without cement, the best method is to leave hackle barbs on the butt ends of your trimmed wing hackles, group them together, and tie them in with tight wraps, tying in both stems and some of the fibers at the base of the barbs. The attached barbs prevent twisting of the stems. To confirm this procedure and its success, watch the DVD.
So the wing assembly – gluing ahead of time, when I did finally do it; was a last resort to “keep it together” in a situation where setting the entire wing in stages of construction wasn’t going off without a hitch.
Guess what? I liked it. So I started doing it, all the time. One after another. Perhaps it takes more time collectively to tie the Carrie Stevens patterns this way than sans gluing, because of the time you spend selecting, pairing, matching, etc…but the tie-in of the preassembled wings is for me, takes ten seconds or less. I do it just like my wet fly wings, no soft wraps; pinch tight, make all tight wraps from the start, stems placed slightly above the center line of the sides of the head, the inside stems of each wing assembly are actually placed together; a slight tilt toward you to oppose the thread torque, and they’re good to go…only a few times so far have I needed to reset them and try again…

The fact that I (or another experience fly tier) am suddenly doing things differently isn’t surprising – I was forty years old before I learned to like bananas. Previously I hated ’em. I used to think like this: “How do you ruin a good fruit salad? Add bananas!” I’ve been eating bananas since 1992.

So to follow up on this: I have been converted.  I know, shocking…truth is, I’ll probably never again tie a Carrie Stevens pattern, or perhaps other New England style streamers that are similar in design, without cementing the wing components together. This change in my mindset all happened in a matter of a few days, as I began this process, using the Stevens method, building wings one-by-one. This change came about as a result of a fellow tier’s suggestion, but I learned twenty years ago that even novice and intermediate tiers are capable of providing good advice or a better method of a certain procedure to tiers with more years of experience.

Doing this, I have found that even patterns such as the Victory, Jungle Queen, Merry Widow, and Firefly that lack shoulders but still have jungle cock cheeks are made to better advantage for tying, and the construction of the integrated cement lends added stability to the front portion of the wing. There is less flip-flopping of the individual feathers in the wing when the front portion, say 25% of the stem length is bound to the adjacent feather(s) with cement. The cement should be kept shorter than the length of the shoulder, lacking a shoulder, then no longer than shy of the tip of the jungle cock nail cheek.  I’ve been using Elmer’s Rubber Cement; basically because I had no other alternative adhesive available at the time, and I like it. It does not bleed through much at all. When properly applied any bleed-through of the cement is concealed underneath the enamel portion of the jungle cock cheek. Some of the Stevens and other New England style patterns use six hackles in the wings. I use the cement only along the stem, I don’t suggest spreading it out across the sections into the barbs of the feather away from the stem.
My recent reading and study of the Carrie Stevens: Maker of Rangeley Favorite Trout and Salmon Flies, 2000, by Graydon and Leslie Hilyard has also influenced me on this. I confess – I bought it new when it came out, but all I ever did was read through the photo captions and look at the pictures. I missed a lot by not reading it sooner.

Speaking from the position of my experience of being stubborn about my previous method; I’ve said this before: as a fly tier, never assume you know everything, or don’t close your mind to another method. We can always learn from others. I like Poul Jorgenson’s quote, “Fly tying is a school from which no one ever graduates.” I was exposed to something new to me, and rather than face it closed-minded, I learned from the experience. Learning new methods is sometimes hard for me to do. Fly tiers can be like that occasionally, dare I say a little stubborn? Set in our ways? Whatever, it makes us what we are.

In the last four days I have tied over 24 different Stevens patterns, and made wings for more than 30 more streamers, some are repeat patterns already tied, and others are for patterns that I have never previously dressed. Last night I made six sets of Gray Ghost wings for #2 & #4 Mustad 3665A’s; these were ordered by my customer Rich, who bought that $15 Gray Ghost tied on the antique Edgar Sealey 1797J Hook and allowed his wofe to fish it in the Adirondacks! Ha! See the post on my blog of their Adirondack fishing success. https://donbastianwetflies.wordpress.com/2011/07/20/wet-fly-fishing-testimonial/

Consider the General MacArthur and Green Beauty, for example – the last time I tied these particular patterns was in 1987. I remember that because it was October of that year when, for the Pennsylvania State Council of Trout Unlimited Annual Banquet & Seminars that was held in my hometown of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, I presented my first-ever slide program. It was a presentation (albeit abbreviated) on New England Style streamer flies. I had tied flies from Joseph Bates book, Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing, such as the Green Beauty, Nine-Three, Bolshevik, Black Ghost, Ballou Special, and Colonel Bates, and included them in my program.

Completed wing assemblies by Don Bastian for Carrie Steven’s streamer patterns; some are: Gray Ghost, Jitterbug, Merry Widow, Davis Special, General MacArthur, Don’s Special, Embden Fancy, Colonel Fuller, Larry, Shang’s Special, Golden Witch, Green Beauty, Governor…I typed it from memory, so the list is incomplete as to what I actually here. Most were sized for Gaelic Supreme size #1 8x long Martinek / Stevens Rangeley Style Streamer Hooks., though some of them, are smaller. There’s a couple General MacArthur and America wings here that are matched for 6x long Mustad 3665A hooks. I literally tied ’em and tossed ’em, well, rather gently, laid them here. They are right under the jaws of my Regal Stainless Steel C-clamp vise. This was not a set up shot.

Many of these patterns are new to me – the Jitterbug, Davis Special, White Ghost, Governor, Allie’s Special, Allie’s Favorite, Charles E. Wheeler, Don’s Special, Embden Fancy…they are beautiful, more so in real life when you tie one yourself than in photos. This is a renewal of this aspect of fly tying interest for me.
It’s a good thing I have a bunch of the necessary materials previously accumulated in my cache of tying stuff. The reality is that many Carrie Stevens patterns were new to everyone. Prior to the release of Hilyard’s book in 2000 and Forgotten Flies in 1999, few people were aware of the extentsive number of patterns Carrie Stevens actually created.
I took these photos quick, the one of the assemblies was hand-held, and I only took a few shots. I present them here exactly as the flies & wings lie on my tying table. (Which is extremely cluttered). And by the way, none of the heads are finished yet with the matched banding of colors, which I will do before I consider them complete. My explanation on that is in the Streamer Four-Packs topic. https://donbastianwetflies.wordpress.com/2011/07/26/streamer-four-packs/

Some new photos added below on August 4, 2011:

Assembled wings for the Jenny Lind; note the slight variation of the shade of blue. Many of the Carrie Stevens original flies reveal differences of colors. Like fly tiers of today she was limited on occasion to availability of feathers and different dye lots. It is not always possible to obtain the same color of feathers. These wings were selected from two different capes, both labeled as Silver Doctor Blue; one set from a neck, the other from a saddle. I think either shade is acceptable; Carrie’s original Jenny Lind streamers tend toward a light, pale blue. The hooks are Mustad 3665A (traditional) the big one is a size #2. These wings were made for Nos. 6 and 8.

Canary at top, dressed on a Gaelic Supreme Mike Martinek Carrie Stevens Rangeley Style Streamer Hook – size #1 8x long. Below are three Jungle Queen Streamers dressed on the same hook, a smaller size #6 – 8x long. Tied by Don Bastian.

Pink Lady (top) and Don’s Delight, both dressed on Gaelic Supreme Mike Martinek / Carrie Stevens Rangeley Style streamer hooks, size #1 – 8x long. Tied by Don Bastian.

Canary and Davis Special, dressed on Gaelic Supreme Hooks – size #1 – 8x long. The shoulder is a little short on the Davis Special; this example is my first dressing of this particular pattern. Tied by Don Bastian.

Victory – size #2 – 8x long, tied by Don Bastian.

I tied this Carrie Stevens Streamer Pattern up last night – the Victory. After a final (third) coat of head cement this morning it’s done. I’m getting it in today’s mail to Ted Patlen of New Jersey; Ted always does the framing of the flies every year for the raffle plate of flies for the International Fly Tying Symposium this November in Somerset, New Jersey. This year the Symposium is on November 19th and 20th. This is my donation fly for this year’s Celebrity Tier’s Fly Plate:

The Victory:

Thread: Red #56 or white #1 Danville Flymaster 6/0.

Hook: Gaelic Supreme Martinek / Stevens Rangeley Style Streamer Hook

Tag: Flat silver tinsel

Tail: Red hackle fibers

Rib: Flat silver tinsel

Body: Red floss

Belly: White bucktail

Hackle: Red

Wing: Two light blue hackles flanked by two gray hackles

Cheeks: Jungle cock

Head: Red, white, and blue, Danville 6/0 Flymaster thread (note: Danville no longer makes a blue thread in Flymaster 6/0)

The wing was cemented in my “new” fashion, (new for me anyway).  This was one of the four patriotic-themed streamer patterns that Carrie created in the 1940’s.

The Pirate Streamer, another Carrie Stevens creation, tied by Don Bastian on Size #1 Gaelic Supreme Streamer Hook.