The Fly Young Knight

The Fly Young Knight is a poem that was written by Frederick L. Whiting in 1927. It was copyrighted and made into 12″ x 22″ posters in 1950. As I understand, the original with mounted wet flies, hangs in the Adirondack  League Club clubhouse in New York. According to their website, there is an address in Old Forge, New York, but that is a PO Box and I am uncertain of the actual clubhouse location. This group is open to membership, and is dedicated to “the preservation and conservation of the Adirondack forest and the propagation and proper protection of fish and game in the Adirondack region.”

A copy of The Fly Young Knight also hangs in The Angler’s Club of New York. According to the writer, this whimsical poem was written about the Gray Knight, an old wet fly pattern given a mythical life in verse as the Gray Knight, with this distinction in the second line of the poem: “Emblazoned on his shield he bore a Parmacheene Belle.” Thus the poem continues with more fly patterns named as the tale unfolds.

When Jim Deren, owner of The Angler’s Roost in Manhattan passed away in 1983, Judith Bowman and Hoagy Carmichael, Jr., cleaned out Jim’s shop and his infamous “backroom.” They found a stack of rolled poster copies of The Fly Young Knight, and decided to engage a fly tier from Massachusetts to make ten sets of the flies, then mounted and framed them and sold them at a sale for $250.00. That was in 1985.

I never heard of The Fly Young Knight until last summer when a friend sent me a copy of the poem in the mail as a surprise gift. I recently tied the patterns for a customer in Connecticut, he was going to mount the flies himself. I took photos of the patterns and have copied The Fly Young Knight into a computer file with the intent to post the poem and fly photos inserted among the verses on the blog. Here it is:

The Fly Young Knight

by Frederick L. Whiting

Forth to the fight a good

Gray Knight

rode manfully and well.

Emblazoned on his shield he bore a

Parmachenee Belle

 

And from his tried and trusty lance there glittered in the sun

A gaudy

Alexandra

and a

Pale Blue Evening Dun.

From which you’ll please to understand, don’t fail to get this right,

The flies were on his armor, but there was none on the

Gray Knight.

 

No heed he gave to life or limb, nor fear lest he might fall,

He’d often fought in

Beaverkill

and also

Montreal.

Two squires attended his needs and with him cast their lot,

The one a

Royal Coachman

and the other

Jock Scott.

They polished off their golden spears; they oiled their gear and tackle.

And on their silken bonnets wore a

Bucktail

and a

Hackle.

The banner each one held aloft, renowned in song and story,

Was garnished with a

Katydid

beneath

Greenwell’s Glory.

Two husky heralds named

Cahill

made all the welkin ring,

And from a wood hard by appears a dashing

Grizzly King.

With haughty mien he makes salute, his plume waves in the wind,

While he defies the world to match the charm of

Jenny Lind.

What ho! Responds the proud

Gray Knight,

none ever yet heard tell

Of a maid so fair as can compare with

Parmachenee Belle.

Quick to the list these champions, their sturdy charges drew,

While overhead

Jungle Cock

and

Scarlet Ibis

flew.

Each laid his trusty lance in rest and dashed across the flat

When in the eye of

Grizzly King

there flew a fierce

Black Gnat.

This put his optics out of whack, he tumbled in the dirt.

He “bust” the buttons off his pants and split his undershirt.

So when he loudly yelled for help and made a great to do

They brought him a

Professor

and a

Silver Doctor

too.

Their ministrations hurt him so he gave them both a kick,

And for a fee he handed each a

Cowdung

on a stick.

In kicking them he hurt his toe which made him more forlorn

They put

Blue Jay

plaster then upon his knightly corn.

The wrathful

Grizzly King

was placed in bed attended by his daughters,

And she who bathed his injured eye was called the

Queen of Waters

Moral:

This goes to show that knights of old when walloped in the eye

Would belly ache about their pain like any other guy.

The Fly Young Knight, written, 1927, by Frederick L.Whiting. 1950 is the copyright date on the poster.

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19 comments on “The Fly Young Knight

  1. Kelly L says:

    Wow these flies are so beautiful. LOVE THEM.

  2. Ryan H. says:

    Thank you don so much for posting this!!! Absolutely fantastic history, write-up, and poem with the flies!!! Great share!

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Ryan;
      Welcome to my blog! Thank you for your comment! I have more to write as a sideline about Jim Deren and The Angler’s Roost, but there is too much information about him to include here as I intended. I have enough for a separate post on that topic. Appreciate your comment, glad you enjoyed the post! Thanks again!

  3. Bob Dietz says:

    I’ve seen a copy of this before, with the flies. I think it was in the Yellow Breeches fly shop, but I’m not sure. Thanks for reminding me of it.

    I’ve been toying with the idea of doing something similar with the British equivalent :

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Bob;
      I heard of Steeleye Span back in the ’70’s – my brother had some of their “cassettes.” I never bought any though… Who Told the Butcher would be a good song to learn so one could sing it with his fishing friends while traditionally imbibing a few pints. The drum set looks about like the wood-finish Premier set from 1975 that I have…I am about to embark on a clean up and set up of them so I can start playing again. Thanks for sharing this!

  4. Alec says:

    Hi ya Don – That is the absolute best – what a treat!! The whimsical wit of wet flies! You know I have a fishing club that meets a few times a year, and inevitably we laugh, pun and crack wise as much as we fish. There is something about a bunch of anglers getting together to put the troubles and concerns of their work and obligations aside for a spell that inspires such things. Should we ever be blessed with a “clubhouse” I sure would like to have that hanging on the wall! Great to see such fine wee flies from your vise as well! Super-Duper from every angle! Alec

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Alec;
      Yeah, I was pretty excited tying the flies and wanting to get this posted. I googled it on line and there was absolutely nothing on it. I am happy you like it! I hope to do a set of this poem and flies for myself. I am glad you enjoyed the flies, thanks for your compliments on the work!
      Thanks for your comment!

  5. Cardo Lianez says:

    Wow. Wonderful word-smithing and wonders of the wing.

  6. John E. Wilson says:

    Magnificent

  7. Jack Manning says:

    Hi Don, thanks for the wing mounting lesson at the show. I wish I had seen this post before I went. Jack

  8. hotdog7 says:

    I have a mounted copy of this poem with the wet flies. It is framed in its original frame. It needs a little tlc, and is missing one fly. I salvaged it out of an old abandoned cabin years ago. It definitely has age to it but unsure how to know if it is one of the reproductions sold in 1985, or if it predates them.
    I would like to email you pictures to show you what I have & get advice on the best way to go about cleaning it up. If you are interested in seeing pictures of the poem & wet flies & willing to offer me your suggestions, you can email me. Thank you for giving me some history on the piece here in your blog!
    Lia

  9. hotdog7 says:

    I have what I believe to be an ORIGINAL example of Fly Young Knight 1950’s poster in what appears to be an original bamboo frame. It is missing one fly- the King Fly. I would be interested in obtaining a replacement for the one missing fly in order to fully restore this gem. I would also be interested to know what the value of an original would be. Is this something you can help me with? I have pictures but don’t see a way to attach them here… Thank you. Lia

    • Deb lusink says:

      I too have a mounted copyright in the bamboo frame. .it’s in great condition all flies are there..just wondering where I can find info and the value. .??

  10. Deb says:

    I have have a mounted copyright of” the fly young knight” 1950..it’s in a bamboo frame..all the flies are there in great shape..bottom corner is signed..flies by Alex f. Rogan..I can send pics..could u send me info as to the value and if u would be interested..thanks

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Deb;

      I looked into this a little bit. Alex Rogan originated “Rogan’s Royal Gray Ghost” fly that appeared in the 1950 book, “Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing” by Joseph D. Bates. He also tied other flies. I’m not sure he’s still alive. This frame you have, and the fact it is signed by a somewhat notable fly tier, makes it in my opinion, more valuable than perhaps some others. I have heard of different originals that are around. I bought up the remaining original copies of the poem with intentions to make some frames. As yet, that has not happened. 😉 I don’t know what it is worth, but I would say you ought to get at least $250 for it. You could try placing it on eBay with a minimum bid, and then see what happens. I am not really interested as I have not enough space for my own framed flies!
      Thank you for your comment and this info!

      Don

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