Brook Fin Wet Fly, and other classic wets on salmon hooks

Brook Fin Wet Fly, my version with the added tag and rib, on a Mustad 36890 size #2 salmon hook.

Brook Fin Wet Fly

I first learned of the Brook Fin wet fly while in ninth or tenth grade through the color plates of a book titled, The Complete Book of Freshwater Fishing by P. Allen Parsons. It was illustrated there with other wet flies, drys, streamers, bucktails, and nymphs. The same paintings were originally published in H. J. Noll’s Guide to Trout Flies and How to Tie Them. I did not possess a copy of Noll’s book until the late 1990’s. Other than the Fontinalis Fin and Bergman Fontinalis, the Brook Fin was just the third brook trout fin wet fly pattern I had even seen. The Parson’s book lacked tying recipes, so my brother and I were tying many of those patterns solely by interpreting the illustration. In some cases this involved our best guess.

At any rate, the reason for this batch of flies is because one of my customers to whom I had sent a few orders of fancy wet flies and Gray Ghosts for fishing in the Adirondacks, had made a September trip to the Salmon River in New York. While there, using a #6 Brook Fin wet fly I had tied on a Mustad 3399 hook, he suddenly saw a huge, dark shadow trailing his fly. As it came closer he saw that it was a very large Chinook salmon. He saw the fish actually strike and take the fly, at which point the fight was on. He played the fish for over fifteen minutes until the line went slack. Inspecting the hook, he discovered it was still attached, but had been bent open enough to lose its purchase in the fish’s jaw. He and his companions estimated the size of this fish at around 25 – 30 pounds.

He e-mailed me to say that he wanted more, and wondered about getting some of these flies on stouter hooks. The flies on these Mustad 36890 size #2 irons are the end result. Somewhere along the line, I inadvertently stopped including the tail of black hackle fibers on the brook fin, probably because I started tying the pattern from memory and hadn’t checked the photo for some time; I simply forgot to include it. The addition of the oval gold tinsel tag and rib is added to strengthen the rear of the floss body and also to protect the stem of the palmered black hackle. I love the added accoutrement of the gold tag and rib. I had never dressed traditional trout flies on salmon hooks before, but for bigger fish, it makes perfect sense. I really like the appearance of these patterns on the black, up-eye salmon hook. These flies are certain to work for steelhead, lake-run salmon, and perhaps even a few big browns that visit the Lake Ontario tributaries in the fall of the year.

Brook Fin Wet Fly

Thread:  White Danville Flymaster 6/0 for body, black for head

Hook: Mustad 36890 or other brand of up-eye salmon hook

Tag:  Fine oval gold tinsel

Tail:  Black Hackle fibers

Hackle:  Black tied palmer

Rib:  Fine oval gold tinsel

Body:  Orange floss

Wing:  White, black, and orange, in equal parts, married

Head:  Black

I also tied six other patterns on size #4 salmon hooks, the Alexandra, Golden Duke, Neverwas, Cupsuptic, Golden Doctor, and Dr. Burke. These additional photos and their recipes will be added to this topic later today.

1/2 Dz. Brook Fins, dressed on #2 Mustad 36890 salmon hook (Bastian variation with added tag & rib)

Alexandra

Alexandra

Hook:  Dai-Riki 899 size #4

Thread:  Red Danville 6/0 Flymaster

Tag:  Dark red floss

Tail:  Peacock sword fibers

Rib:  Oval silver tinsel

Body:  Flat silver tinsel

Hackle:  Black (also red, claret, or deep wine)

Wing:  Peacock sword, may have scarlet splits on each side

Head:  Red, (Wapsi lacquer)

Dr. Burke

Dr. Burke

Hook:  Dai-Riki 899 size #4

Thread:  Black Danville 6/0 Flymaster

Tail:  Peacock sword fibers

Rib:  Oval silver tinsel

Body:  Flat silver tinsel

Hackle:  Yellow

Wing:  White goose

Cheek:  Jungle cock

Head:  Black

Cupsuptic

Cupsuptic

Hook:  Dai-Riki 899 size #4

Thread:  Black Danville 6/0 Flymaster

Tail:  Yellow hackle fibers

Hackle:  Red tied palmer

Rib:  Oval silver tinsel

Body:  Flat silver tinsel

Wing:  Dark brown mottled turkey with marrow strip of guinea fowl over

Head:  Black

Golden Duke

Golden Duke

Hook:  Dai-Riki 899 #4

Thread:  Black Danville 6/0 Flymaster

Tail:  Red goose or duck quill sections

Body:  Rear 2/3 black floss, front 1/3 flat gold tinsel

Hackle:  Black

Wing:  Scarlet goose wing quill sections

Head:  Black

Golden Doctor

Golden Doctor

Hook:  Dai-Riki 899 #4

Thread:  Red Danville 6/0 Flymaster

Tail:  Red, yellow, green goose or duck, married

Body:  Flat gold tinsel

Hackle:  Claret

Wing:  Gray mallard (whole feather tips paired on this specimen), with splits of blue and red goose shoulder over

Neverwas (sorry about that one stray hackle barb, I was in a hurry and took only this one photo before shipping the flies to my customer).

Neverwas

Hook:  Dai-Riki 899 #4

Thread:  Black Danville 6/0 Flymaster

Tail:  Peacock sword fibers

Hackle:  Green (I used olive on this one)

Body:  Peacock herl

Wing:  Orange goose wing quill sections

Head:  Black

These six patterns were dressed on Dai-Riki 899 salmon / steelhead hooks and have a more aesthetically pleasing bend, and the wire diameter is finer, the return loop is tapered, and they are chemically sharpened, overall a better hook than the vintage 36890 Mustad’s I used on the Brook Fins.

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Carrie Stevens Streamers – Boxed Collector’s Sets

Carrie Stevens Streamer Patterns - Boxed Collectors Edition, tied by Don Bastian, signed, numbered, featuring Gray Ghost, Colonel Bates, Pink Lady, and Blue Devil.

This boxed set of Carrie Stevens Streamer patterns is the fruition of an idea developed earlier this summer. The mounting cards used have my old phone number on them but otherwise the idea is to present these historic flies in a set for interested collectors. The patterns selected for this first set in what is planned as a series; the Gray Ghost, Colonel Bates, Pink Lady, and Blue Devil were chosen for the following reasons:

The Gray Ghost– how could I not include the Gray Ghost? It is literally the most popular traditional streamer pattern in history, perhaps with Herbie Welch’s Black Ghost running a close second.

The Colonel Bates – named for Joseph D. Bates Jr., author of several books, including Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing, 1950, which until the release of Graydon and Leslie Hilyard’s book, Carrie Stevens – Maker  of Rangeley Favorite Trout and Salmon Flies in 2000, had actually contained what was thought to be most of Carrie’s patterns within in its pages, with the Colonel Bates photographed among 13 of Carrie Stevens’ patterns of Bates’ book on Plate IV.

The Pink Lady – A lesser known Stevens pattern, but selected for inclusion in this set because of the historical fact that this pattern was the very last fly tied by Mrs. Stevens on the day in 1953, symbolically dressed as her final pattern before she sold her business and materials to H. Wendell Folkins of New Hampshire.

The Blue Devil – another pattern from Plate IV of Joseph Bates’ book.

Each of these patterns is dressed on English hand-made Gaelic Supreme Mike Martinek / Carrie Stevens Rangeley Style Streamer Hooks, size #1 – 8x long.

The display case is a white enamel gift box with a raised interior panel with the flies. Each fly is mounted on the cards with fine copper wire similar to the method used by Carrie Stevens. The patterns are named and sized in #2 pencil, and the signature card is signed and numbered. The exterior of the carton is also labeled with the signature card. A signed letter of provenance also accompanies each set. The price of my Carrie Stevens Streamers – Collectors Edition Sets is $75 including shipping.

These sets will be advertised for sale on my page of MyFlies.com, and I plan to have some for sale at various shows and venues in the future. I am also developing other ideas with this concept. Future editing of this topic will continue as additional sets are created.

Future Fly Tiers?

This is a recent photo of my grandson, Gabriel, and me at my daughter’s home. He seems very interested in fly tying at this stage – he’ll be three in late January.

My grandson, Gabriel, and me...he's on the right track to become a future fly tier. Perhaps he's thinking, "Is this a Grade #1 Cape? Might be good for soft-hackles...Hmmm.""

January 2011 - Gabriel at age two...pointing to the soft-hackles in my hand, saying, "Bug!" Note his hand on the vise handle...he loved the rotary feature. He'll probably be a Regal man like his pappy.

When this photo was taken, Gabriel was just up, first thing in the morning, still in his PJ’s. He was two when this picture was taken. If you look close, you can see a few Bergman Fontinalis wet flies lined up along the edge of my tool caddy. (You can click on the photos to enlarge them, and another click will increase size to full screen).

The other really amazing thing about the second photo is that the first thing I did was show Gabriel a #10 Fan Wing Royal Coachman, and without a word, he made the sign language for butterfly. And I did not know that, but when he did it, my daughter said, “Did you see what he did?”

“No,” I replied.

“He just made the sign for butterfly,” Kim answered. Gabriel had been watching sign language DVD’s since he was around ten months of age. He’s smart, because he had a pretty good vocabulary of that long before he could communicate orally.

My oldest grandson, MJ, checking out wet fly Plate No. 3.

This little guy is MJ, is my first-born grandson. I was spending time in December last year at his great-grandma’s house, Lou Anne’s mother, lending a hand to her, and also catching up on visitation time with him. While there, I finished the assembly of this frame, mounting the flies, hand-lettering the pattern names, etc., for this custom-order of wet fly Plate No. 3 from the book, Trout, by Ray Bergman. When I placed it on the floor where he could see it, MJ was transfixed and just stared at it for a while. He wore the bib during the day because of drooling resulting from teething. Later, after delivering the frame I showed him the painted color plates from the book, and he pretty much had the same reaction. Maybe he’ll be Bastian-family fly tier number two?

These two boys represent part of the joys in my life. They were born eleven days apart in January 2009. They are so much fun to be around. Living five hours apart, one in Connecticut, and one in Cogan Station, makes the occasions they are together very special. They each have a younger brother, Benner (MJ) and Andrew (Gabriel). I am very thankful for them, and very blessed to have four grandsons.

The photo below is a sample of what their behavior is like when they get together; playing in the dog crate. I can only imagine what they’ll cook up when they are older. MJ loves his cars, see him clutching them to his chest.

Gabriel and MJ playing in my dog crate. Their decision to go in, one followed the other. Boys will be boys!

Snipe and Purple

This soft-hackle wet was sent to me a while back by my friend in Jarrettsville, Maryland, Bill Shuck.

I thought I’d post the photo, recipe, and a few notes here. Soft-hackles are among the most effective of wet fly patterns.

Snipe and Purple

Hook: Daiichi 1640, #14

Thread: Pearsall’s Gossamer silk #8, purple

Hackle: Snipe wing upper marginal covert

Body: Unwaxed tying thread

The use of unwaxed silk allows the body to darken when wet; this is a classic pattern, still popular today, and according to Bill, was originally designed to imitate stoneflies.

Snipe and Purple

Bronze Mallard Wings

An “inspiration” at the vise.

Working on another ordered set of wet fly frames, I finished all 57 of the Wet Flies for Plate No. 8 Saturday night, and this is the Yellow Dun from Plate No. 9, (only three more to go) from Ray Bergman’s book, Trout – the Wet Fly Plates. Having tied my way through Plate No. 9 Sunday,  yesterday, and almost finishing them today, when I saw yet another “brown mallard” wing on the Yellow Dun so soon after tying the Wren, I thought, oh geez, not again. Not my favorite.

This one, when I got to the wing – but please don’t look at the head, I got an idea. Just like that. So I did this wing just as you see it. The first coat of cement was still wet, and the fly wasn’t finished more than a half-minute when I stepped across the room, got the camera and took this hand-held shot. I apologize for not taking the time to tripod this image so it’s a little blurry, but I wanted to share that my “inspiration” resulted in this brown a.k.a. bronze mallard wing as you see it. The head cement was literally drying and still being absorbed into the thread as I snapped this shot. I needed a little break from tying anyway.

The thing I want to say about this fly regards the wing:

I made it from one single bronze mallard flank feather, not a matched pair as I always like to use, and have been teaching that you need a matched pair for who knows how long.

Important to note – after years of tying, even the same patterns or styles of patterns thousands of times, one still gets new ideas.

I’ll gladly share the technique in a few days…after my students at Great Feathers Fly Shop in Maryland learn this weekend how this is done. Right now, I need to get back to those last three wet flies…and start putting on the second and third coats of head cement, and then I have 48 more flies to tie for my custom version of Plate No. 10.

Yellow Dun - not a great photo (of the unfinished head which will require the manicure of pressing down that little bump , after the first coat of cement), but please read the post to see why I was anxious to post this information.

Rick Whorwood and Switch Rod Smallmouth

This is a photo of my very good friend and excellent fly tyer, Rick Whorwood, with a client from a drift fishing trip yesterday. Rick resides in Stoney Creek, Ontario, and has lived in the same area ever since he was a child. Rick is now retired from a career in the Steel industry, and just bought this raft. Rick is the only person in Ontario who possesses all three Federation of Flycasters Certifications: Certified Casting Instructor, Master Casting Instructor, and Two-Handed Spey Casting Instructor. Rick is a very good tactical fly fisherman, and an excellent caster with any type of fly rod. He is enjoying his “retirement” by teaching casting classes, personal casting and fly fishing instruction, float / wade guide trips, and he might even do some fly tying instruction. Rick tied the full-dress Jock Scot salmon fly that Canada Post used as part of their second release of their Fishing Fly postage stamps in 2004.

Rick has his own web site, currently being updated, to promote his retirement. It is in my list of favorite links on the right side of the screen. I highly recommend Rick to anyone considering casting lessons, or a guide trip in Ontario. The bass in the photo was taken on a switch rod.

Rick Whorwood (left) with client and smallmouth bass taken September 30, 2011 on a switch rod.