Parmacheene Belle, 19th Century

I thought you would all enjoy seeing an anthentic 120-year old fly. This is the Parmacheene Belle from the 1893 Orvis Display at the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vermont.

Parmacheene Belle

 Here is the pattern recipe:

Tag: Flat silver tinsel (tarnished)

Tail: Scarlet and white, married

Butt: Peacock herl

Ribbing: Flat silver tinsel (note how wide it is, and tarnished)

Body: Yellow mohair

Hackle: White fronted by scarlet

Wing: Scarlet and white, married. The original version of the wing, as described by the pattern originator, Henry P. Wells, in the 1883 edition of Fishing With the Fly by Charles F. Orvis and A. Nelson Cheney, he states the wing to be white with a scarlet stripe. It is unclear why the Orvis company chose to make the wing simply red and white.

Head: Red thread, and the butt ends of the humped over, reverse-tied wing, the butt of materials and the hook shank. This is how they did it back then. Most likely because all they had was cotton and silk threads, none strong enough to bind the wings securely in place.

Just a taste of what you’ll see in my book, in progress. We plan to publish full plate images of all 32 original color plates from Favorite Flies and Their Histories, 1892, by Mary Orvis Marbury.

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6 comments on “Parmacheene Belle, 19th Century

  1. Terry Chapman says:

    The use of colors in fly tying
    never fails to interest me in the “old flies” that you find; fully identify; and are able to create “anew”! Keep it up.

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Terry;
      I’m happy you like this old fly photo, I did too and hoped others like yourself would as well. I love the history associated with these patterns. Thanks for your comment!

  2. Rusty says:

    Don, would this be the Parmeechene on the Nipigon River…fished by MANY famous fisherman including world record brookie by Dr. Cook in 1914

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Rusty;
      It most likely would be. It was and still is, a very unique pattern. It was created by Henry P. Wells in about 1878. The only other fly pattern close to it is the Parmacheene Beau, which Henry Wells did not originate. And there is also the very similar Belgrade wet fly, with a claret hackle tied palmer and jungle cock cheek. Marbury’s book includes a nmber of writings and references to the Nipigon, including one comment about the “short” (56 mile-long) river being “over-crowded” on one day with 101 anglers. That’s still over a half-mile of weater per person. Guess their standards were a bit different.
      Thank you very much for your comment!

      • Rusty says:

        Hi Don, Thanks for the interesting reply! Currently working on the Jock Scott with Bill Spicer. He tied a Claret major for Henry Winkler! Bill mentioned that you carry silk gut? I was wondering where I can order from.

      • Don Bastian says:

        Hi Rusty;
        Gut is available from Roger PLourde in Connecticut. The info is in an older post I made here 3 – 4 months back. If you go to my home page, use the search tab, just type in “silk gut leader material” and hit “enter.” That should take you right to it, and Roger’s e-mail as well. Let me know if you don’t find it…thanks for your comment!

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