Wet Fly Class – May 25 at L. L. Bean

Parmacheene Belle – the original Lake Fly version presented in the Orvis books of 1883 and 1892.

L. L. Bean Schedules Classic Wet Fly Class

The Hunting and Fishing Store of L. L. Bean in Freeport, Maine, has scheduled me to teach a classic wet fly class on Friday, May 25th, 2012.

There is a registration fee of $10.00. Bean’s is donating the proceeds from this class to Trout Unlimited. The hours of the session are from 9:00 AM until 4:00 PM. This class is for intermediate and advanced fly tiers.

We will be tying historic trout wet fly patterns, focusing on the tying of patterns primarily of Maine origin, featuring the original dressing for the Parmacheene Belle illustrated above, created by Henry Wells in the 1880′s. The Governor Alvord shown below is also on the class list. A video camera will be utilized to illustrate detailed step-by-step tying procedures on a large flat-screen TV.

The class will include detailed instruction and student participation of some standard style dressings using a variety of techniques and materials with the purpose of teaching the necessary procedures for tying winged wet flies. Full explanation and revelation of the “mysteries” of tying single strip quill wing and married-wing wet flies is the goal of this class, which is just one good reason to sign up.

And here is another good reason in the form of a student testimonial:

I taught a class on Sunday March 24th at the Penobscot Fly Fishers Class in Brewer, Maine. During the first morning break, an elderly tier came up to me during the mid-morning break and stated, “I have struggled with these wings for years. You have solved my problems in a half-hour with your instruction.”

The pattern and material list will be provided upon registration. In addition to vise, light, and tools, the students are requested to bring the necessary materials, which will also be available for purchase in the L. L. Bean fly tying department.

Class size is limited to ten, to register contact Ed Gauvin at L. L. Bean:


For reservations by phone call: 207-552-6677, ext. 17714; or toll-free:  800-221-4221, ext: 17714.

Feel free to also contact Don Bastian with any questions.  dwbastian@chilitech.net

Registrations are being accepted at the registers in the Hunting and Fishing Store and by phone or e-mail. A good class in anticipated! Thank you for your interest!

Governor Alvord – pattern from Favorite Flies and Their Histories, Mary Orvis Marbury.

Big Pine Creek Stream Report

Some parts of central and south-central Pennsylvania got a lot of rain from Sunday evening, May 13th through yesterday, May 15th. However the north central and western north-central part of the state did not get as much rain, since this recent rain was mostly a southwest to north east moving system. For anyone who thought of making a weekend fishing trip to the Little Juniata or Penn’s Creek, those streams are going to be running pretty high, as in get your kayak and life vests out and leave the rods at home.

In fact, as an edit to this post just a half hour after I made it; I just checked flow data on Penn’s Creek. Here are the current flow stats:

Penn’s Creek spiked yesterday at almost 3000 cfs, and is currently running at 2000 cfs. No fishin’ there boys and girls. Maybe in a week, considering the mean flow on Penn’s Creek for May 16th is 619 cfs. The Green Drakes had started last week on Penn’s Creek at Glen Iron, but now all bets are off.

Except Big Pine Creek. The Green Drakes are starting there, and there’s over 50 miles of water from Waterville to Ansonia in some of the most beautiful scenery in the entire state of Pennsylvania. That is in  comparison to the ten miles that usually hosts the hundreds of anglers for the Drake Hatch on Penn’s Creek, where it can get so crowded you need a shoe horn to squeeze yourself into a fishing spot.

Even Spring Creek is running high – up and quite off color now, but that settles down in 12-18 hours; however…

There is some good news if you still want to fish! Here is the stream report by the Slate Run Tackle Shop for May 15-2012:

05-15-2012:  Pine is in great shape at this time. We missed most of the rain that went through in this last couple of days.  They are still predicting some thunder storms tomorrow. If we survive them, we are on our way to a great weekend of flies and fish. The size #14 olive has started to hatch, along with Gray Foxes, Sulphurs, Slate Drakes and a few Green Drakes. This next week will probably provide fishing to most of the Drakes. Luckily we only received .65 of and inch of rain in the last 11/2 days. Clarity is good. Level is above average, but very fishable.

Added by me:

Kettle Creek, Sinnemahoning, Young Woman’s Creek, Slate Run, Cedar Run, Little Pine Creek – there is fishing NOW and there will be (most likely) good fishing through this weekend, since the weather will be clear for the next several days. I’m fishing tomorrow…but then I have to work the weekend cutting firewood at the cabin, but looks like Sunday may be an all-day sucker for me as far as fishing goes…I’m now planning to be on Big Pine Creek…anyone care to join me? :mrgreen:

On Big Pine Creek – #12 cornuta BWO’s in the morning, Slate Drakes, Green Drakes, sulphurs – a mixed bag – there should be good dry fly fishing. It doesn’t get much better than that. 🙂

Check the Slate Run Tackle Shop link for more info: http://www.slaterun.com/

Thankfully Pennsylvania has a lot of good fishing! I decided to add a couple photos to this post:

An angler plays a trout in the Delayed Harvest Section of Big Pine Creek near Slate Run, Pennsylvania. The March Brown hatch on Pine Creek this year was the best since the 1970’s. Exceptional dry fly fishing on Big Pine Creek this season. Photo taken April 26th – Don Bastian.

Big Pine Creek, below the village of Waterville.

The gloom of late afternoon on Big Pine Creek. Don Bastian photo, April 26. This is a big beautiful valley, and when conditions are right, can provide great fishing. Conditions are currently right.

OnThe Fly – Pennsylvania Fly Fisher’s Tournament

This is where I will be on Monday May 14, 2012, participating as a demonstration fly tier at the 16th Annual On The Fly Event, The Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Tournament that is a benefit fundraiser for Centre County Youth Services. Here is a link: http://www.ccysb.com/onthefly/

When this event was first started, former president Jimmy Carter attended the Event. The President and his wife, Rosalyn, fished Spruce Creek and other waters with famous Pennsylvania author and the Dean of Fly Fishing, George W. Harvey. Mr. Harvey was instrumental in the organization of the Penn State Credit Approved Fly Fishing and Fly Tying Curriculum, that began about 1932, right after George graduated.

This will be my first participation at On The Fly since 2006. I am really looking forward to it. I plan to take some photos and will follow up and add some to this post. Though the weather forecast calls for rain…

Footer Special Streamers – Streamers365.com

Sometime in 2011 I was fortunate to be invited to participate in the Streamers365.com Project, a year-long internet gallery devoted to featherwing streamer patterns. Darren MacEachern of Toronto, Canada, is the man behind the scenes with this project. I have placed Darren’s photos of my streamers here on my blog as they have appeared on Streamers365.com, but somehow I missed the Footer Special that was posted on April 19th:   http://streamers365.com/2012/04/110-footer-special/

The Footer Special on that day is presented by two tiers, Charlie Mann and myself. Here is Darren’s photo of the pattern:

Footer Specials – tied by Charlie Mann – top, and Don Bastian – bottom. Darren MacEachern photo.

The link to Streamers365.com above also presents a bit of the history on the pattern.

I need to get busy and write the story about the Friday night fly tying class I taught at L. L. Bean last March during their 3-day 100th Anniversary Spring Fishing Expo. Here is a nutshell account:

Bean’s conducts regular Friday evening fly tying classes in the Fishing Department of their Flagship Store in Freeport, Maine, during fall, winter, and spring. They normally present flies in their classes that are part of their packaged L. L. Bean Fly Tying Pattern kits. Since the same patterns were presented a couple years in a row, I suggested to Ed Maillet, Department Manager at the time of planning last November, to consider doing “something different.”

Ed agreed. His only request of me was to present a pattern that Bean’s would have the materials for tying in their stock. The Footer Special met these requirements, also it is a Maine streamer pattern, and was one of the streamers featured in my streamer DVD, Traditional Streamers and Bucktails. Little did I know that 2012 is the 50th Anniversary year of the creation of the Footer Special. The resulting Friday evening class turned out to be the best class Bean’s ever had in terms of the number of people present. Nick Sibilia, member of the Saco River Salmon Club in Biddeford, Maine, http://www.sacosalmon.com/ is a friend of David Footer and had informed David that I was tying his pattern at the class. While there were about 17 students, eight or ten members of the Footer family was present, including daughter Julie who has been David’s right-hand girl for many years in his taxidermy and art studio.

David Footer came by my display table at Bean’s on Saturday and I got to spend some time talking to him, and I also met his wife. On Sunday we had lunch together in the room provided by Bean’s for the Spring Fishing Expo guests and celebrities. It’s been a delight getting to know David; he is a very friendly, kind man. And talented. He trained under famous Maine taxidermist / artist Herbert Welch, originator of the famous Black Ghost streamer.

Including the Footer family members and additional spectators, there were about thirty-five people present at the class. Needless to say, Bean’s staff of retail and promotional employees were delighted by this unanticipated response.

Footer Special – created by David Footer, tied by Don Bastian. Photo by Darren MacEachern, Streamers365.com

David’s creation of the Footer Special mirrors the fly designs of Maine Warden Supervisor, Joe Stickney, originator of the Supervisor – also one of my other patterns presented on Streamers 365.com:  http://streamers365.com/2012/01/20-supervisor/ and other streamer patterns including the famous Warden’s Worry and Lady Doctor. Joe Stickney and David Footer share the common creativity of fly pattern design, while neither of them tied flies. They created their patterns and had them dressed by friends who were fly tiers.

Here is a link to David Footer’s website:  http://davidfooter.com/

Finally part of the project of Streamers365.com is a monthly eBay auction of the streamers presented the previous month. Here is a link to my Footer Special, in case anyone is interested: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Footers-Special-by-Don-Bastian-Streamers-365-Cased-Rare-Fishing-Memorabilia-/140749019353?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_2&hash=item20c54b98d9

I tied two Footer Special streamers the night of the class, and presented them to David on Sunday at the L. L. Bean Spring Fishing Expo. I intend to write more on some of the details and post photos of those flies as well. Thanks for reading!

Hendrickson Hatch – Ontario’s Grand River


Back in the early 1990’s I met Rick Whorwood from Stoney Creek, Ontario. He introduced me to the Grand River, a tail-water brown trout fishery that begins at Shand Dam near the town of Fergus. It flows quite a distance into Lake Erie. I wrote the article titled, Ontario’s Grand River, that was published in Fly Fisherman Magazine (my very first published piece). This piece introduced the Grand to the world in 1995. It was a relatively new fishery because Shand Dam, originally built in the 1940’s, was retrofitted for hydro power conversion in 1989. That is when it all started. Cold water releases from the dam created sustainable conditions for trout in a river that formerly held only bass, carp, and a few pike. Trout Unlimited and Izaak Walton Club members starting a program of stocking fingerlings of a Ganaraska River brown trout strain. It is an understatement to say these fish did very well. The combination of the cold and extremely fertile water conditions has created a wonderful brown trout fishery.

I remember meeting Ian Martin, a biologist, around the time of my article. Ian co-authored Fly Fishing the Grand River, a pocket guide (and very expensive, as I just discovered through an Amazon.com search). Some of the data from his stream biota samples were incredible. His team used a method of sampling a square meter of the stream bed, where they were able to contain and document nearly 100% of the invertebrate life. I remember reading that he recorded Hendrickson mayfly Ephemerella subvaria population densities of almost 1000 individual specimens per square meter. Sounds pretty incredible. It is, eh!? As my Canadian friends are so fond of saying…

Well, a friend, blog follower, and occasional commenter here, John Hoffman, of Fergus, sent these photos to me this evening. I had to post them. With his permission, they are his photos. See why?

Opening Day in Ontario – April 28th, 2012. The Grand River, near Fergus. John views a massive flotilla of Hendrickson duns drifting on the surface. He’s wondering why the trout aren’t rising.

A solid mat of Hendrickson duns on the Grand River – unfortunately dead and dying. These are not cripples or stillborn duns. Mother Nature can be quite cruel, so She was this day. The cold air temperatures prevented many of the duns from leaving the water. John said this was one of the smaller masses of flies he saw that day.

I need to get back to the Grand. I have not fished it for nine or ten years. I’d have to convert my old slides to digital images, but I can tell you, if I look I might be able to find photographic evidence of the most incredible and amazing 45 minutes of trout fishing I ever had in my life! It was here on the Grand River. I’ll expand the tale when / if I find the pictures. Suffice it to say the short version is I caught two sets of twins, in this order, 19″, 23″, 23″ and 19″, four brown trout. Even more amazing is that the first two were caught on a LaFontaine Sparkle Caddis Dry (it was actually one of his underwater pupa patterns dressed to float), on back-to-back casts, and after a half hour period of nothing, the second set of twins, was again taken on two back-to-back casts, on a Caddis Bead Head Larva nymph. I was with Dave Whalley, it was a Sunday morning before I was presenting a program at the Grand River Conservation Authority Annual Event that afternoon, and we had less than a couple hours to fish. And oh, I caught these four trout above the upper bridge, in the unregulated section of the river where it is not Catch-and-Release. What a day that was! Er, I mean an hour. I gotta find those photos.

“Dang!” Use your Imagination…

If trout could talk, and I know I’m stretching my imagination – and yours – a bit perhaps, but use your imagination and please play along. This goes way back to the days of my youth (that phrase always reminds me of the song “Good Times, Bad Times” from Led Zeppelin I, but I promise not to digress anymore), when as a boy of seven or eight, my brother, Larry, and I were reading my dad’s copy of To Hell With Fishing, 1945, by Ed Zern and H. T. Webster. To Hell With Fishing was illustrated with cartoons by H. T. Webster, all good ones that spoof and poke fun at fly fishing and related situations and circumstances. I read that book and looked at the pictures so many times as a boy and a young man that now, fifty years later, from memory, I can still recall most of the cartoon subtitles: Life’s Darkest Moments, The Thrill That Comes Once in a Lifetime, How to Torture Your Wife, and How to Torture Your Husband. A number of Webster’s cartoons featured strip-style scenes with talking trout. If I can dig up my copy of that book, I’ll post the photo of my favorite series of a big brown, doing all the talking as he bragged to a little trout how many different flies he’d eaten and leaders he broke over the years in order to survive. That might convince you all that I do come by this stretch of imagination honestly. For further validation of my “honest imagination” I note that Ed Zern penned the famous quotation, “Fly fishermen are born honest, but they get over it.”

So, if trout could talk, I imagine that something like the word “dang,” might have been the first utterance by the pictured individuals who are part of the resident population of Pennsylvania’s Spring Creek. These ladies and gentlemen, after trying to eat my fly on Sunday, April 29th, were summarily brought to hand, against their will, much to their amazement, surprise, and chagrin. After posing for these photos, upon their release, (we are still in imagine mode now), they had to endure the certainty of humiliation as they swam back to their companions who no doubt ridiculed them for their fool-hardy behavior. The words spoken by these embarrassed individuals in self-defense to their family and friends no doubt varied, but again, using my imagination, must have gone something like this: “Dang. I could have sworn that was a real fly!”

“Dang. I could have sworn that was a real fly.” Spring Creek brown taken with the ever-dependable Flashback Pheasant Tail Nymph, size #20. This was the only fish of nearly 40 that fell victim this day to “fake-food.” The rest were taken on drys.

“Of course I thought it was real. Why else would I have eaten this thing?” This was the first trout of about 20 that ate my original Floating Caddis Emerger, size #16. Sorry I can’t divulge the pattern because this week I am submitting it to Orvis for possible acceptance as one of their cataloged Contract Fly Patterns. Now, if I could only get some of these trout to participate in the Orvis Conferences on their new fly patterns for 2013…but then I’d probably have to pay their travel expenses to Manchester, Vermont; hotels, meals, entertainment, shuttle service…nah. I’ll just keep my fingers crossed. All you can see from here is that it’s a buggy-looking  fly – bedraggled, wet, matted, and disheveled. And it is effective. Very much so, after eight years of field-testing has proven.

“Looked real to me. Boy do I feel stupid.”

“But it moved, and twitched, and looked alive! I thought it was about to escape! So I ate it.”

“Did you see me? I was the first one to get there and eat this fly. I beat out two of my buddies, but look what happened. Boy, I feel really dumb.”

This rainbow is the only trout of that species that I have hooked thus far on five Spring Creek trips this year, of close to 100 others, all browns.

“I even posed for another photo…I guess the Fish God or whatever that thing was liked me. And I lived to tell you all about it! I still swear that fly was real. What, do you think I’m an idiot here?”

“But it looked just like all the other bugs I was eating! There was nothing wrong with them. Everybody makes mistakes…once in a while.”

About 2:30 PM I switched to a Sulphur Comparadun, size #14, since Sulphurs were starting to hatch and the trout fed on them. I took this fellow and a dozen-and-a-half more, all on that pattern before Truman and I headed home about five-thirty PM.

More to follow…

Sulphur – Parachute Emerger

Some years ago a fly tier named Tom Travis of Montana, created an excellent series of parachute emergers for Orvis covering a number of the major mayfly species. Back about 2004 or ’05 I had one of my customers request this pattern, and he gave me a printed copy of a magazine article with tying instructions and pattern recipes. I went ahead and started to tie some of these; March Browns, Sulphurs, and cornuta BWO’s. I made a few modifications, some immediately, and others along the way. This pattern is a very good one. Recently one of my customers had terrific success on Pennsylvania’s Spring Creek with my version of the Sulphur Para-emerger.

On my variation, the first thing I do is make the tail more realistic with the use of exactly two or three fibers, reasoning that more accurate imitation of the actual mayfly will trigger more strikes. Secondly, to make the pattern float better I increased the use of the foam from not only the post but also incorporated it into the wingcase as well. Third, I differentiate the abdomen and thorax with two different colors of dubbing, using the nymph color of the natural on the abdomen, and the mayfly dun color of the adult on the thorax. The fourth aspect I changed is to use a more natural color of foam for the post, which can also mimic the wing color of the natural dun. Travis’s patterns use white or bright colored foam for better visibility. This can be done if that is a consideration by the angler, as my friend in Canada, Rick Whorwood and I were discussing yesterday, in that the Lower Grand River is very wide in places, and casts with single-hand or spey rods of 70 feet or longer are possible. Check out Rick’s website:

http://www.flycastingschool.com/  You’ll also want to check out the two special guests he has booked for this fall; Tim Rajeff in September and April Vokey in October. Click on Guest Instructors on his site for more information.

My version of the Sulphur Para-emerger is pictured below:

Sulphur Para-emerger. This fly is designed to float as a dry fly while the abdomen suspends below the surface film. It is intended to mimic the mayfly nymph emerging at the surface, or perhaps a cripple. This design makes for a highly effective trout pattern. Trout feeding on duns will nearly always inhale this pattern. Note the picked dubbing in the thorax represents legs.

Sulphur Para-emerger

Hook: Size #12 and #14 – Tiemco 2488 or 2487 Scud Hook. This hook is a Montana Fly Company 7048 Light Wire Scud Hook, size #12. These scud hooks are 2x short shank, hence the #12. The 2x wide gape of these hooks increases hookups. The Orvis patterns are dressed on the 2488 straight-eye hook, which is probably the best choice.

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 No. 7 Orange

Tail: Three barbs of lemon wood duck, divided with two wraps.

Rib: A single strand of Danville No. 47 Tobacco Brown rayon floss, twisted tight. Note its appearance is similar to wire. Twisted floss is very durable.

Abdomen: Hareline #43 Ginger rabbit dubbing.

Wingcase: Tan closed-cell foam, cut into strips about 3-/32″ wide.

Thorax: Sulphur Rabbit Dubbing, this is color No. 6, the brand sold by Fishing Creek Angler in Benton, PA. Check their link under Fly Shops. Hareline Nos. 27 or 28, Amber or Antique Gold, could be used. Or blend colors to get something close to this shade.

Post: Created from the same section of foam as the wingcase, tied in with three wraps, make some thread wraps and apply a bit more dubbing in front to elevate it, and then wrap tying thread around the foam post to create a base for attaching the hackle.

Hackle: Ginger. This is a Whiting Saddle; only three wraps are needed because of the high barb density.

Head: Orange, made from the tying thread.

On the wood duck tail, I use the barbs that have previously had the tips used for something else, such as the wings on Catskills dry fly patterns. Noted Catskill fly tier, Dave Brandt, from Oneonta, New York, sells what he markets as “Pre-Owned Wood Duck.” About 1996 or ’97, considering the expensive cost of wood duck flank feathers, I developed several different methods on a number of fly patterns to achieve total utilization of wood duck flank feathers and all the barbs, where little to none of the feather and barb stubs goes to waste. Like hog butchering where it is said, “They use everything except the squeal,” so I have done with the lemon and barred wood duck feather barbs. No wood duck feather is ever discarded until there is literally nothing left to use it on.

For now this is all I shall write on this post. I will add the tying instructions early next week, since my day is starting and time is getting away from me. I will add the second photo below, of a slightly different camera angle to reveal the three-barbed tail. Have a good weekend everyone!

Sulphur Para-emerger, Don Bastian version. Note the three-barbed tail. This requires a little more effort, but I believe it is worth it. My tri-focal lenses and 20/15 corrected vision helps a lot. The use of my fingers, and occasionally a bodkin allows me to divide these barbs with just 2 wraps of tying thread. Then the rib is attached and dubbing of the abdomen begins.

While this fly is technically classed as an emerger, standard dry fly tactics are employed when fishing it. Often to state one is “fishing an emerger,” it seems to default to the use of a sub-surface pattern. This is not always entirely true.

Sulphur Para-emerger Tying Instructions

Step 1: First I insert the scud hook into the vise with the hook point and eye pointing directly down. This places the heel of the bend facing up. I do this because it allows me to attach the tail and tie the abdomen well down the hook bend. I attach the tying thread at a position that would amount to being above the barb if the hook were normally placed in the jaws of your vise. Start tying thread and wind enough wraps to secure it to the hook.

Step 2: If you are going to use three barbs of lemon wood duck flank as I do, then your bodkin will be invaluable in selecting the barbs from the feather. Many of the pieces of lemon wood duck that I have are no longer on the stem, they are just barbs in groups of several to a couple dozen, all that remain after being used for tails on wet flies, wings on drys, legs on nymphs, or stripped off from flank feathers that were used for shoulders on patterns like Carrie Steven’s Green Beauty or the Larry. I keep these in a small zip-loc bag.

Take the three barbs and attach them to the hook. Use your bodkin and your fingers to splay them and then make two wraps on either side of the center barb. I generally clip the two side tails a tad shorter than the center barb. You could also save time by just tying in a small bunch of barbs. This is easier, but I believe it would result in the loss of trigger point No. 1 on this pattern, and by that I mean the realistic-looking three-fibered tail.

Step 3: Attach a single strand of Danville #47 Tobacco Brown floss for the rib. At this stage, change the placement of the hook in the vise to a more traditional horizontal position.

Step 4: Apply the abdominal dubbing to the thread, I use Ginger #43 Hareline Rabbit Dubbing. Using the photo as a guide dub slightly more than half the hook shank for the abdomen.

Step 5: Grasp the floss rib and (for right-handed tiers) twist the floss clockwise, just enough to gather it together so you can grasp the tip of it with your hackle pliers. Now you can really spin the floss; twist the rib clockwise several more times. This will insure that the floss increases in twist as it is wound. Left-handed tiers would need to twist the floss counter-clockwise to tighten it. Wind the ribbing, making at least six wraps.

Step 6: Tie in the closed-cell foam strip (previously prepared as per the recipe and material list above) at the base of the abdomen.

Step 7: Apply dubbing to the thorax area, winding it forward but staying back away from the hook eye about twice the hook eye diameter.

Step 8: Bring the foam wing case forward, secure it with a few wraps of tying thread. Make 10 – 12 wraps in front of the foam, standing it up to create the post. Make 10 – 12 thread wraps around the base of the foam post to create a band of thread for attaching the hackle.

Step 9: Apply a small amount of dubbing in front of the post.

Step 10: Attach the hackle to the base of the post, not to the hook shank. Wind the hackle counter-clockwise, making three or four wraps. Counter-clockwise winding is for right-handed tiers. A left-handed tier would need to wind clockwise. The reason you do this is that by winding counter-clockwise the hackle barbs will face away from the direction of thread wrapping, meaning the barbs will not get trapped by the thread, they will simply push out of the way as you complete the final thread wraps and whip finish. My friend Tom Baltz of Mt. Holly Springs, Pennsylvania, taught me this trick years ago. By the way, if anyone is looking for a good guide for the famous South-Central Pennsylvania streams such as the Letort Spring Run, Falling Spring, Yellow Breeches, Big Spring, send Tom and e-mail: baltzte@aol.com

I hope that my readers will tie and try this pattern. I’d love to hear success stories too! Set the hook!

Cress Bug

I have been placing fly pattern photos and recipes here in the past, ever since I started this blog in March 2010. I plan to continue this effort, adding to the number and diversity of fly patterns here, creating what will eventually become a Fly Pattern Dictionary. This Dictionary will contain of course classic wet fly patterns, (it already does), but I will also be adding drys, nymphs, streamers, and other fly patterns. Most of these will be flies that I tied, and there may occasionally be some flies from other tiers. I will be placing my original patterns here as well; they will be placed intermittently. I may do an occasional photographic step-by-step tying tutorial, but for the most part, this Fly Pattern Dictionary will contain fly patterns and recipes, and maybe a few fishing tips. I know, there’s already lots of that stuff like this on the internet already, but I think I have something to offer or I wouldn’t be doing this.

Most intermediate and advanced tiers can get the pattern by looking at a good photo, reading the recipe, and maybe asking a question or two. The comments / questions here are intended for my readers to use to their advantage. I shall endeavor to maintain and expand this project as time permits.

I will also be adding new Categories to facilitate the use of finding the information you want. Don’t forget to use the Search Tab!

The Cress Bug is my first “official” post in the Don Bastian Wet Flies Fly Pattern Dictionary.

Cress Bug, also known as an Isopod, though not to be confused with fresh water scuds. Scuds and Cress Bugs are different animals. This is a profile view. Note the heavily picked dubbing; this simulates the legs.

Cress Bug, view No. 2, slightly elevated camera angle. Here you can see the smooth top / back of the bug, an imitative effort to mimic the shape, appearance, and silhouette of the naturals. Doesn’t that 6/0 Uni-thread rib look like hawser cable? The benefit of macro-photography.

Cress Bug – top view. Size #14 Montana Fly Company Hook, #7026 – #14, 1x long, 2x heavy wire. The heavily-picked dubbing imitates both the legs and the natural wide body shape of the cress bugs.

Cress Bug

The ingredients are listed in the order in which they are tied in. This is basically a Cress Bug pattern of my friend, Dave Rothrock, but I added the scud back on top to make the pattern look a bit more realistic. It does make the fly look “more realistic” but for fishing effectiveness it’s not necessary. Sometimes we tiers add extra stuff to our patterns just to make the fly look better, whether the fish care or not. Come on, now, you know it’s true. 😉

Hook: Standard wet fly or 1x long nymph hook, sizes #14 to #22. I have also dressed this Cress Bug pattern (omitting the shellback) on size #20 and #22 scud hooks with successful results, especially in summer when the water is low and clear.

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0, #60 Olive

Median Stripe: Dark Brown Uni-thread 6/0

Rib: Dark Brown Uni-thread 6/0

Shellback: Scud back, 1/8″. I tied this fly with tan but you could use clear.

Body: Haretron Dubbing – this is a mix I blended myself by hand for the current order of a dozen mixed sizes I’m tying. I used #3 Gray, #5 Light Olive, #16 dark Brown, and #18 Ginger. There is no official ratio for this mix; I’m not that technical. I just took a pinch of this ‘n’ that and blended it together to get what you see as a darker olive-brown-gray. It’s mostly olive and gray with less of the other colors.

Head: Tying thread

This is a staple fly on any limestone stream where Cress Bugs naturally occur. There would be some benefit to its use on freestone water as well, but I’ve never tried it because other patterns usually work.

Tying the Cress Bug:

Step 1: Start the tying thread at hook eye, wind and stop at the hook point. Attach the two strands of ribbing and median stripe thread. Wrap slightly past the barb.

Step 2: Wing the thread forward to the hook point, attach the scud back for the shell. After securing the scudback, wind back to the end of the body, stretching the scud back in the process.

Step3: Apply dubbing, heavily. You are making a robust body, football shaped. Wind the dubbing, almost to the hook eye, making the body larger in the middle half. Haretron dubbing as opposed to rabbit fur produces better density of the picked-out effect. The addition of the Antron essentially increases the underfur component of rabbit fur.

Step 4: Using a .30 caliber bore brush (available at your friendly local gun shop), brush from the top center of the body toward each side on a slight downward angle. This makes a body as if you used a dubbing loop, but in a fraction of the time. Cool, eh? :mrgreen:  Barry Beck demonstrated this tool in a fly tying class where I was assistant instructor in 1990 when I used to work for he and Cathy. This effort will produce a full spread of dense, picked-out dubbing.

Step 5: Trim the edges of the dubbing with scissors, cutting parallel to the body. This is where you find out if your scissors need to be sharpened. You want a body almost 3/8″ wide on a No. 14 hook.

Step 6: Pull the scud back forward, secure it with three wraps. Stretch the scud back and cut the excess.

Step 7: Pull the thread median stripe forward, keeping it top-center on the scud back. Don’t forget. A common mistake when I’ve taught this fly in classes is to either forget to attach it, or forget to bring it forward. Trim excess.

Step 8: Wind the rib, trim excess, and whip finish the head. Imitatively speaking you could make lots of wraps, but this makes it difficult to pick the dubbing out. Five ribs are best. Pick the dubbing between the ribs, then you’ll need to trim the sides once more.

I could tell lots of cress bug stories, but I’ll just tell my favorite one. One day while fishing in late June on Spring Creek, Pennsylvania, I spotted a feeding – nymphing trout in a shallow seam near the bank, along the edge of a riff. It was about 10:00 AM. The trout was about 18″. So I wanted to catch this fish. I was using a Cress Bug. I cast over there, made a few drifts, hooked the fish for about one second…and the hook pulled out. In less than five minutes that trout started feeding again. I tried the Cress Bug again, but he was suddenly smarter. I tried a number of other flies, casting not only to that trout but to other areas. I caught several fish in this time but couldn’t get that big brown to take again. I remember noting on my watch that exactly one hour had passed since I started fishing. I figured why not, he was still feeding, so I tied the Cress Bug on again. Same one he hit before. I guess his memory faded because he ate that Cress Bug again, but the story ended differently this time because I netted the fish.

One of the most important factors in Cress Bug imitations is to obtain a wide-from-the-top, flat-from-the-side profile of the fly. Unlike scuds, which are more akin to fresh water shrimp, cress bugs have no mobility of their own when adrift. Consequently the best method of fishing a cress bug pattern is with standard dead-drift nymph tactics. I use some type of indicator, which type depends on the level, clarity, and water type I’m fishing. Because of the heavily-picked dubbing, this fly has an almost neutral buoyancy in the water and needs at least one small split-shot even with the shallowest water in your target zone to get the fly submerged. This is also one fly that exemplifies one of my nymphing mantras: Not all nymphing is bottom-bouncing. Trout will often take cress bugs when they are suspended in the water column, so drifting at various depths can be productive.

Customer order of a dozen Cress Bugs to go. Assorted #14, #16, #18 – 1x long hooks. Ready for trout!