David Footer and the Footer Special

A pair of #2 – 8x long Footer Specials tied by Don Bastian

Last weekend at the Marlborough, Massachusetts Fly Fishing Show, I had the opportunity to meet David Footer, noted taxidermist and artist from Maine. While not a fly tier, David originated the Footer Special in 1962, and had a friend tie it for him. I first saw it in Trolling Flies for Trout and Salmon, 1982, by Dick Stewart and Bob Leeman. It was interesting in our conversation, when I mentioned that title to Mr. Footer, he informed me that book was where the pattern was first published. I loved its colors so much at first sight, and I had enjoyed tying, fishing, and selling this pattern for years to the point that I included it in my DVD, Traditional Streamers and Bucktails, 2007. Here is the link to MyFlies.com and my product page for this DVD:


David has been an artist and taxidermist for over sixty years. He met and was influenced by Herbie Welch when he was 21 years of age. A very interesting and entertaining story is on the David Footer web site:  http://davidfooter.com/?page_id=239

I have seen and recognized Mr. Footer at various shows for years but I never had the privilege of meeting him until last weekend. It was a pleasure to meet him. Below is a photo of David and me taken at the show.

The creation of the Footer Special occurred similarly to the origin of the Supervisor, Lady Doctor, and Warden’s Worry, created by Maine Warden Joseph Stickney, who was also not a fly tier, but envisioned his patterns and had them dressed for him by fly tiers who were his friends.

Don Bastian and David Footer. Note the streamer fly hanging on my McKenzie Bright Light; the pattern is a Carrie Stevens Pink Lady; the head cement is drying. David has been a licensed taxidermist since 1946 and is recognized for his fish mounts and old fish mount restorations as one of the best in his field.

Supervisor Streamer – Maine Warden Joe Stickney Pattern

Maine Warden Joseph Stickney's Supervisor streamer pattern, tied by Don Bastian, photo by Darren MacEachern; from Streamers365.com

The Supervisor streamer was posted for the day on January 20th on the site, Streamers365.com.

Darren MacEachern, the driving force behind Streamers365.com took this photo of my Supervisor. This pattern is also included in my DVD, Traditional Streamers and Bucktails. To order a signed copy of this DVD, you may use this link direct to the item product page on MyFlies.com:


Convenient and secure online payment methods are available. The listed price includes shipping. The DVD is signed and shipped by me, so your will order receive my personal attention.

For more information on the Supervisor or on Streamers365.com, visit:  http://streamers365.com/

Sharpening Fly Tying Scissors

I made this post to announce that I will be adding a new service at my fly tying table this year at any shows and events where I am presenting:

~ Fly Tying Scissors Sharpening Service ~

I will sharpen your fly tying scissors, all types with metal blades, at my table at the shows while you wait or enjoy the show. The charge is $3.00 per pair.

It is actually pretty simple, if you want to learn how to do this, I’ll demonstrate the method and show you what tools you need to do this yourself, both of which can be acquired for less than $15.

When I was a boy I carried a pocket knife with me to school. Try that nowadays. I was also a boy scout, and my dad hunted and fished. In addition, dad was a pretty decent cook, and always made the meals when we had a gang at the farm for hunting seasons and other occasions. My dad could use a steel to sharpen knives in a way that, when I was a boy, looked magical. In my father’s skilled hands the blade flew over the surface of the steel in a fast rhythmic action at just the right angle to feather the edge of the knife. My brother and I were also helping to butcher deer while in junior high school. The fact that I owned my own pocket knife combined with my father’s instruction concerning all things with a cutting edge eventually produced a kid who could sharpen his own knives. Through the natural progression of my learning experience I also learned to sharpen hatchets, axes, chain saws, utility knife blades, scissors, pretty much anything with a cutting blade.

I have had the same pair of fly tying scissors for 20 years. They are obviously my favorite pair, the ones I use for 90% of my tying.  If I did not occasionally sharpen them they would have been replaced.
I always try to have a nice display at the shows and I also try to think of new ways to present my products, and in this economy I got the idea that sharpening scissors would be another service, kind of exclusive because I can’t say I know many other tiers who sharpen their own scissors.

Wet Fly Double Quartet

These wet flies, a “double quartet” to use music terminology, are the other patterns that went to Colorado along with those Carson Lake Specials I recently posted. The patterns are:

Bouncer, Cardinal, Kineo, and Silver Doctor – featuring a “deuce” or “double shot” of each.

They are dressed on vintage Mustad 3906 size #4’s.

Bouncer Wet Fly Pattern, Mustad vintage hook 3906 - #4 - tied by Don Bastian

Cardinal Wet Fly Pattern, Mustad vintage hook 3906 - #4, tied by Don Bastian

Note: on the Cardinal wet fly pattern, it dates from the 1800’s and no one (legally) uses “cardinal” on the wing anymore, and the dressing can be (to me) either red or claret, I’m kind of partial to the claret.

Kineo Wet Fly Pattern - Mustad vintage hook 3906 - #4 - tied by Don Bastian

Silver Doctor Wet Fly Pattern - Mustad vintage hook - 3906 - #4 - tied by Don Bastian

The version of the Silver Doctor, some of you know it is my own variation. The use of duck or goose wing quill sections in the wing was inspired by commercially-tied Silver Doctors I saw a number of years ago in The Maine Guide Fly Shop in Greenville, Maine near Moosehead Lake.

The “Doctor” was a challenge because of usually using goose shoulder in the wing; that wasn’t the hard part, but finding nice teal flank always took time. When I saw the simple quill wing versions of this pattern in the fly shop, with only yellow and blue duck quill in the wing, it gave me the idea to substitute materials. I merely used brown goose for the turkey and guinea fowl for the teal. These wings are far easier to assemble that versions using flank feathers, and they are durable. This is the version of the Silver Doctor, adapted from Trout by Ray Bergman, that I demonstrate in my DVD, Advanced Classic Wet Flies, 2007, Bennett-Watt Entertainment.

Cassard Bass Fly

Cassard, more formally know as the "W. J. Cassard" - Bass Fly

This is / these are the Cassard Bass Fly from Mary Orvis Marbury’s 1892 book, Favorite Flies and Their Histories. I tied both of these last night; one is part of a project I’m working on (not my book).

Leigh Shuman, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, long-time friend and fellow fly tier, is one of my contributing fly tyers and has been assigned to tie the Cassard for my upcoming book on the Marbury / Orvis flies. I have only ever tied the Cassard from the recipe in Ray Bergman’s 1938 book, Trout, and since I had to tie this pattern for another project, I gave in to impulse (something I do on occasion) and decided to replicate the antique blind-eye version as illustrated on the Plate E – Lake Flies – in Marbury’s book. In the 1893 Orvis Display in the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vermont, the Cassard is labeled in Mary’s handwriting as a bass fly. It served (and still could) doubly-duty as a Lake Fly for trout and land-locked salmon as well.

Since I had tied one, going one step further, with all the materials out and at-hand, I decided to tie an  extra; the benefit of this is it gives me one for “speculation.”

The hooks are Partridge Bartleet 3/0, CS10/1, blind-eye, that I obtained in 1995 during a visit to England and tour of the now-closed Partridge Factory in Redditch. Perhaps not a “bass” hook per se, but Marbury’s book is full of personal hook style preferences listed by the various contributors.

Hope you like them, now I have to go change the oil in my car…(between you and me I’d rather tie more flies).

A pair of 3/0 Cassards, dressed by Don Bastian

Regal Vise Company / Pro Staff

Regal Engineering has recently updated their website. Their Pro Staff listing includes some of my friends, and also a few people who are contributing fly tiers for my current book project. Here is the link to the Regal Vise Pro Staff page:


I have been tying on a Regal Vise for 21 years, and I have no interest in looking for or trying something else. Other vises on the market may have bells, whistles, lights, and built-in CD players, or at least considering the cost of some other fly tying vises on the market, one could buy a Regal Vise and still have enough money left over to buy bells, whistles, lights, and a CD player. My feeling on this is part of my character; even if I were a millionaire, I would still not be buying an $80,000 car.

That’s just how it is. I love my Regal. The hook-holding capability of the Regal Vise, the no-adjustments for any hook size, and its ease of operation have made the Regal my favorite fly tying vise. I tie on a Medallion Series C-Clamp with the stainless steel jaws. Its non-true rotary feature may not be what the epoxy tiers desire, but on the other hand, this aspect and design provides specific advantages when tying certain types of flies. I have discovered these quirks through time at the vise, some even by accident, and I am pleased to say I have been able to exploit these particular features to my tying advantage. Some of these techniques not only afford for faster and improved tying, but also have the real added benefit of reducing some of the awkward body and arm postures that can occur when tying certain types of flies. If you tie flies for long stretches at a time as I often do, these simple tricks make for less fatigue and increase tying efficiency. Like parachutes for instance…it’s a longer explanation, which I choose not to write about here, but I certainly will be happy to demonstrate these techniques at any show, class, or venue where I am appearing.

Another nice feature of the present model of the stainless steel jaws is that they are more acutely tapered and have finer tips than the traditional and original Regal Midge Head. Last night I tied several old bass flies on blind-eye hooks, up to 3/0 and I did not place these hooks in the hook-holding groove cut into the jaws, but inside the tip of the jaws a little. The hooks were held securely in place throughout the tying procedure. And if I would have wanted to, I could have inserted a size #22 dry fly hook and tied a Griffith’s Gnat with no adjustments. That’s what I’m talkin’ about.

I have added a link to the Regal Vise Company on my links categories.

Favorite Flies and Their Histories – Plate M – Trout Flies

Framed reproduction of Plate M - Trout Flies - from Mary Orvis Marbury's 1892 book - Favorite Flies and Their Histories - tied and photographed by John "CJ" Bonasera, aka, "Catskill John."

This frame of antique-style wet flies was made four or five years ago by Pennsylvania resident, “Catskill John” Bonasera. “CJ” is one of the contributing fly tiers for my current book project on the 19th Century Orvis flies, and he sent this photo to me the other night. I immediately thought it was worth sharing with my subscribers and visitors. This is “CJ’s” reproduction of Plate M – Trout Flies from Mary’s book.

The patterns are: No. 84 – Alder; No. 85 – Abbey; No. 86 – Alice; No. 87 – August Dun; No. 88 – Allerton; No. 89 – Adirondack; No. 90 – Bowman; No. 91 – Brown Gnat; No. 92 – Black May; No. 93 – Beauty; No. 94 – Ben Bent; No. 95 – Brown Adder; No. 96 – Black June; No. 97 – Blue Jay; No. 98 – Bee.

There were replicated as the book plate paintings are illustrated, using a flying lead of gut.

The photo below is a comparison of the flies mounted on the mat board alongside the plate image from Marbury’s book. It is a beautiful example as a work of art by a talented fly tier. Thanks CJ, for granting permission to post your work here!

Plate M - Trout Flies, from Favorite Flies and Their Histories. The painted illustrations are on the left, CJ's fine reproductions of these antique trout flies are on the right.