Bee – 1900’s Orvis Wet Fly Pattern

This Bee, a reproduction of a 19th century Orvis Lake Fly, was tied by and the photo was taken by one of my friends from Maine, Dave Lomasney. Dave lives in York, and is a member of I met him last year when I was presenting at the Annual L. L. Bean Spring Fishing Expo in Freeport, Maine. On that note, I have been invited to return to Bean’s in Freeport, Maine, again this March; it will be a special event because this is the 100th Anniversary Year of L. L.  Bean. Dave recently posted this pattern on classicflytying, and since Dave did such a nice job on the Bee I thought I would post it here as well.

Below are Dave’s posted comments on the Bee:

“Happy New Year friends!!!! This is my last fly for 2011…a BEE in the MOM (Mary Orvis Marbury) style. After seeing it in Don Bastian photos from the Orvis Museum in Vermont, and I noticed the wing feather of the Bee fly had an iridescent sheen to it. Well it just so happens I was given a complete turkey fan last week from a friend that killed a wild turkey this past spring while hunting. When I saw the fan I noticed it had some of those shiny little feathers at the base of the tail…The wing on my BEE is cut from slips of the feather, a left and right, and then doubled (I gave Dave that suggestion because the barbs are a little sparse on these feathers, and I’ve done that with other feathers with good results). The hook is a Mustad sproat bend 3371 bronze, marked #2.”

Bee - Lake Fly version, tied on a Mustad 3371 #2 bronze blind-eye hook by Dave Lomasney, from Maine. This is the Lake Fly version from Fishing With the Fly, 1883, by Charles F. Orvis and A. Nelson Cheney. The Bee also appears as a trout fly in Mary Orvis Marbury's 1892 book, Favorite Flies and Their Histories.

Here is the text about the Bee from Favorite Flies and Their Histories, 1892, p. 223, where the Bee appeared as a trout fly:

No. 98.  Imitations of bees have been made since early times with no special restrictions as to material, so each maker has chosen his own. The one illustrated in the plate of trout flies, also in the plate of lake flies in Fishing With the Fly, was first made by C. F. Orvis in 1878, for use in the streams west of the Mississippi River. The peculiar burnished effect of the upper body feather of the wild turkey used for the wings, and the alternate rings of chenille which permitted a bulky bee-like body without too much weight, has been so satisfactory that it now seems to be the generally accepted method.”

Below is posted the actual Bee from the Lake Fly Plates from which the artist painting for the chromolithograph plates were made for the 1883 Orvis book. I took this photo of the actual mounted set of six Lake Flies through display glass at the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vermont, this past October.

Bee - No. 13 - Lake Flies - Fishing With The Fly - actual mounted fly from the plate used for the paintings. This photo and the full plate image were posted before Christmas in my 1883 Orvis Flies topic. Note the wing has been severely damaged by the ravages of bugs. It is also interesting to note the trout version of the Bee on fly Plate M in Marbury's 1892 book shows a furnace hackle; this one appears to be natural black. The "peculiar burnished effect of the wild turkey feathers" is still visible in the remnants of the wing despite the damage.

Below is posted my photo of the color plate Bee from the source I am very lucky to possess, a first-edition copy of the 1883 Orvis book.

My photographed book image of the Bee, No. 13 from Lake Flies. This photo is of a first edition, 128 year-old chromolithograph image in my copy of the Orvis book, Fishing With the Fly. I must say it does not do justice to the lithographs. They have an allure and vivid appearance that is lost in photography. Note: there is a small tag of flat gold tinsel on this fly, not visible on the actual fly because of the chenille and mostly lost from tarnish. Here the hackle appears to be black and brown mixed...which suddenly reminded me of an old TV show--- "Will the real Bee, please stand up?"

I wanted to make this post with Dave’s Bee in combination with a feature using the other photos. Thanks Dave for your contribution, and nice tying! The recipe for the Bee was posted in my older Orvis fly post.

7 comments on “Bee – 1900’s Orvis Wet Fly Pattern

  1. Beautiful fly Dave, the wing is really something perfect for this.

  2. Kelly L says:

    I love these old flies, and their history. Thanks to the Dave, I get a glimpse of this beauty. Also thank you Don, for discussing it in detail, and showing us the photos. Don you actually have a first edition of this book? WOW. That is simply amazing indeed.

    • Thanks Kelly!
      Dave was pretty excited and was happy to see one of his patterns here…he did a nice job on it. And yes, I actually have a real, old, first-edition-printed-in-1883-copy of that book. The oldest book I own, kind of lucked into it among a lot of books at an auction some years back…

      • Kelly L says:

        Well, thanks to Dave, who tied it, we have this thread. (and you of course) I wish there was an edit function here. I am forever goofing up my comments. Don, I cannot imagine having such an old book, and one so wonderful. Hang on to it, but I really don’t think I need to tell you that….rotfl.

  3. Dave Lomasney says:

    Thank you Kelly and Darren for the compliments…I was very excited to say the least to see one of my flies up here, today has been a bitter / sweet day for me and this has been one of the SWEET parts of it, and the BITTER part…..well that’s for another day! Thanks you again Don for the SWEET part of my BITTER / SWEET DAY!..thanks for a great blog also!


    • Dave – again thank you for allowing me to post your pattern, I am happy to include your fly to help promote interest in historic patterns. Hopefully your day today will be a little sweeter overall… ;- )

  4. […] At the Annual L. L. Bean Spring Fly Fishing Expo in March of 2012, my friend from York, Maine, Dave Lomasney, showed me a “new” method of mounting wet fly wings. I had met Dave just one year earlier. Since he was interested, I spent some time teaching him the basics of tying wet flies and marrying wings. In a few months Dave was turning our great wet flies (see this post in my archives): […]

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