Classic Wet Fly – Tying Class

Last March I taught a classic wet fly class at Eldredge Brothers Fly Shop on Rt. 1 in Cape Neddick, Maine. Please check their link on my Fly Shop link list on the right. I hope they will invite me back this year; well, next year, since it would be in 2014. It’s a good possibility they’ll want me to return, since this year’s class booked full with thirteen students in less than two weeks when announced in October. Moreover, people registered on a cancellation list, and then more people were turned away because the waiting list was “a mile long.” I heard all this through eight or nine people who I spoke to at the Marlborough Fly Fishing Show and at the L. L. Bean Spring Fishing Expo, who informed me they wanted to sign up but were too late. It’s gratifying to have affirming interest like that pertaining to one’s avocation.

I have wanted to post a review of that class here on my blog, but like other topics, there is only so much time in a day, and each day seems to slip by faster than the one before. Is that me, or does time really speed up?  I intended to post each individual fly pattern and recipe for interested persons, but I’m having some trouble with my camera. Seems it will not function properly on “TV” mode, aka “Shutter Speed Priority” setting. I was forced to shoot these images on “Auto,” consequently I lost all control over depth-of-field. After previewing the individual images, I decided they are not up to my usual standards, so they won’t be included here, sorry folks. Moreover the mom-and-pop camera shop where I bought my camera has since gone out of business, a victim of “big-box store” competition.

One thing I hope to accomplish with this post was to review my itinerary and maybe have interested persons, fly shops, or organizations consider booking me to teach a class. That’s what I do, in part, to earn my living. So I hope everyone realizes that fact without me seeming to be “too commercial” or “too much like a used car salesman.”

I have also recently started teaching private fly tying lessons here at my home. This can be for a day or two, accommodate one to three persons, and include meals and lodging if desired. Depending on time of year, some fishing can also be included. Topics available are classic dry flies, classic wet flies, 19th century wet flies – including traditional tying styles of snelled and snood wet flies on authentic antique blind-eye hooks, traditional streamers and bucktails, specializing in Carrie Stevens unique Rangeley method of streamer component assembly, and general tying of all-round fishing patterns, nymphs, drys, emergers, and soft-hackles. I have almost fifty years of fly tying experience, and thirty years of teaching fly tying classes. All materials are provided for my private lessons. Please contact me for more information.

The class at Eldredge Brothers originally was to include nine wet fly fly patterns, but with experienced students in attendance, we moved along a bit ahead of schedule. The Coachman was tied to demonstrate a point in response to a student question, and when we finished about forty minutes early, I added the Parmacheene Belle as the final pattern after the student’s unanimous vote.

The list of flies included the teaching of Helen Shaw’s seven different wet fly body components; chenille, dubbing, floss, herl, quill, tinsel, and yarn. A variety of four different wing-mounting methods was included, as well and multiple methods of hackling. The patterns started out with the simplest ones first, gradually progressing in complexity, presenting increasing difficulty, and concluding with the Ibis and White, Armstrong Fontinalis, since everyone loves the Trout Fin fly patterns, and the Parmacheene Belle. You’ll also note on the Reuben Wood that I included a pattern with a gray mallard wing, since that seems to be a frequent question.  In addition to goose and duck quill wings, we also included wings of turkey wing and tail feather sections.

Below is a photo of the flies from the class:

Alder, Brown Turkey,

Starting at top row, left to right: Alder, Brown Turkey, Coachman, Black and Silver, Black Quill, Reuben Wood, Captain, Forsyth, Ibis and White, Armstrong Fontinalis, and Parmachenne Belle. All flies are dressed on #6 hooks, Mustad 3366 straight eye, except for the Coachman, it’s on a #3399 Mustad, and the Parmacheene Belle is on a #4 – 3399 hook. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

The Alder is supposed to have a wing of brown mottled turkey, but I had plenty of gray turkey, so we used that instead, since my objective in tying this pattern, besides this being a herl-bodied fly, it  was more about preparing and mounting the softer turkey wing than about having the exact color. I have mailed these flies off to Jim Bernstein, shop manager at Eldredge Brothers, and I believe they will eventually be published on their web site. These are all good fishing flies, they were historically, and still are today.

11 comments on “Classic Wet Fly – Tying Class

  1. C D COX says:


    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Snake Doktor;

      Yes I have. Those wet flies are all done. The problem is not me, but with Hatches Magazine. I have no control over the flies they post in The Ray Bergman Collection. They have several CD’s, sent over a year ago, with the fly photos and recipes through Wet Flies Plate No. 9 in Trout, ready to post. The only flies not in their possession are the remaining 48 that are on what I call Plate No. 10, which really only has five wet flies from Bergman’s Trout. The remaining patterns are taken from Just Fishing, 1932, With Fly, Plug, and Bait, 1947, and the second edition of Trout with new wet flies, 1952. I suggest you contact Will Mullis at:
      I suppose at some point if they do not continue with that project, I could take over and start The Ray Bergman Collection on my blog. Thank you for your interest. You certainly are not the only one asking me about this. Perhaps if more people e-mailed Hatches they would get back on the stick.

  2. Marcus Garcia says:

    Hi Don: I live in Santa Fe, NM and have been tying a long time but not too many of the classic eastern wet fly patterns you show on this site. If you are ever near the area perhaps I can arrange a fly tying seminar for these patterns. I believe there would be a lot of interest in the area. Marcus J. Garcia

    Date: Mon, 19 Aug 2013 15:57:58 +0000 To:

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hello Marcus,
      Thank you so much for your offer to have me teach out there. I’d love it of course if the travel arrangements could be worked out, or if I might have another reason to be in your area. I’ve never been to the southwestern US. It would be interesting to see what trout in New Mexico might think of classic eastern style brook trout flies. Thanks for your interest and comment!

  3. Hi Don
    I for one would love to see you put the full Bergman flies onto the blog here. Along with any techniques needed to complete a fly as required.

  4. Don Bastian says:

    Hi Darrell;

    Initially the Hatches Ray Bergman Collection was a photo and recipe presentation only, not also a tying tutorial. For 483 fly patterns, that would be quite an undertaking, and would have cost them quite a bit more money.
    I have also thought that with all those flies, photos, and recipes, that I have a pretty good start on a wet fly book.
    Thanks for your interest!

    • flydressersguild says:

      A wet fly book, you can sign me up for a first copy;)

      • Don Bastian says:

        Hi Darrell;
        I think that is something I need to start on…I wanted to do that as long ago as 2006 after my oldest daughter got married, but life changed abruptly and went differently for me.
        Of all those patterns from Bergman’s books, now four years since they were tied, I think they need to be re-done. Plus a good number more…
        My upcoming Marbury / Orvis book will contain a good bit of these types of flies, including 150 trout flies. Thanks for your endorsement!

  5. Jim Ottevaere says:

    Mr. Bastian,

    Fly tying is a central focus of our Project Healing Waters program here at Quantico USMCB and Ft. Bevior. Your web-site has been very useful to us. Your photos are excellent and your recipes are straightforward. Thank you for providing such a useful training aid to our wounded and injured Soldiers, Marines and disabled veterans.

    This photo is a plaque that was recently presented by us Quantico volunteer to a retiring Marine member of our fly tying program. The fly bodies represent the ribbon colors of each one of this highly decorated Marine’s personal awards, including the Bronze Star and the Marine Combat Medal.

    It is not too far a stretch to say that your fly tying was the inspiration behind choosing traditional wet flies for this presentation.

    Best, Jim Ottevaere PHWFF Fly tying instructor Quantico, USMCB

  6. Mike Stewart says:

    Ahh… 19 Aug Post, so much to say.

    I will certainly keep a sharp eye out for the potential Wet Fly Class in Maine. Love those wets, both tying & fishing.

    If you ever do a wet fly book sign me up for Copy #2.

    Love to see the Marine Ribbon Plaque photo. I have seen similar plates presented by Project Healing Waters at FFF Conclaves & Fairs. Lovely work.

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Mike;
      Nice to hear from you! The man who made that comment about the Presentation Wet Flies with the colors of U. S. Marine Medals has sent me a photo, I’ll try to post it here soon. Thanks for your comment!

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