International Fly Tying Symposium This Weekend

The International Fly Tying Symposium will be held this weekend in Somerset, New Jersey, at the Garden State Exhibit Center. The show hotel is the nearby Doubletree.

Here is a link containing information to the Fly Tying Symposium:

I am displaying and demonstrating at the Symposium this weekend, concentrating on the tying and teaching of Rangeley style streamers, featuring some patterns of Carrie Stevens; classic wet flies, both 19th and 20th century versions – four styles of mounting wet fly wings, and also some blind-eye 19th century patterns, particularly a few of the large fancy Lake and Bass flies. I’ve been tying primarily at shows lately on Mustad #4 and #2 wet fly hooks. Be sure to ask about my “new,” to me, and you too, probably, and greatly improved over all others, wet fly wing mounting method, thanks to my friend Dave Lomasney of York, Maine. I also promised to my readers to demo my method for mounting duck breast feathers for fan wing dry fly patterns. If anyone is interested I can tie a Fan Wing Royal Coachman start to finish.

I’m excited to present (for me anyway, and probably other tiers too), for the first time in public, the historically correct pattern version, every component correct according to originator Henry Wells, of the Parmacheene Belle, famous Maine Lake Fly dating to the year of its origin, approximately 1876. The complete accurate recipe for this fly was recorded in Wells’ chapter titled Fly Fishing the Rangeley Lakes Region in C. F. Orvis and A. N. Cheney’s 1883 book, Fishing With the Fly. Maybe it’s not significant to some, but I finally got hold of some yellow mohair dubbing, which is the original body material, and the color closely matches my photos of one-hundred-twenty year old Parmacheene Belles taken from the Orvis collection at the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vermont. I have a #1/0 bronze hook Parmacheene Belle tied on a gut snell with a bite guard. Stop by and check it out! It is interesting that the Orvis version of Wells’ famous pattern was created with a married half-red, half-white wing, not the original white-with-red-stripe married wing. Perhaps they developed an easier-to-tie commercial version.

Another author got Well’s mohair body incorrect in a 1950 book by calling for a yellow palmered hackle on a yellow wool or floss body. He likely relied on the painted image in Marbury’s book for his interpretation, because the original mounted fly patterns from her book were not discovered until the 1970’s in the old Orvis fly tying barn in Manchester, Vermont. The fish more likely than not probably don’t care, but I believe strongly in ascertaining historic fly pattern ingredient correctness, whenever possible. My photo of the original Plate Fly of No. 60, the Parmacheene Belle from Favorite Flies and Their Histories, 1892, by Mary Orvis Marbury, will be available on my table through the wonders of a lap-top computer, which will be running an on-going slide show of more than two hundred images of the actual plate flies from Marbury’s book.

Parmacheene Belle, from the 1893 Orvis Display at the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vermont.

Parmacheene Belle, Lake Fly from the 1893 Orvis Display at the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vermont. I have posted this image previously, but I felt its inclusion here would enhance this post. Note the red and white wing, not Well’s original white wing with red stripe.

Below is an image of the cousin to the Parmacheene Belle, the Parmacheene Beau, which according to Marbury, Henry Wells had nothing to do with. It is surprising that the Parmacheene Beau is included on the Orvis Display, considering her rather derogatory remarks about “the Beau” in her book.

Parmacheene Beau,

Parmacheene Beau, Lake Fly, from the 1893 Orvis Display. Note the scarlet “split” or stripe. The mohair body is more noticeable here, and the tinsel tag is visible; it is there on the Parmacheene Belle, but not visible due to poor lighting. Both these hooks are large, No. 1, 1/0, possibly 2/0.

I’m also on the Saturday evening banquet program, for a short, humorous, musical presentation. Hope to see new and old friends this weekend! Tight threads everyone!

11 comments on “International Fly Tying Symposium This Weekend

  1. Steve Nack says:

    Hi Don. I will be there. The Main Line Fly Tyers have a booth this year.

  2. Eunan says:

    Hi Don, I’ll stop by and shake your hand, one year on from my first tying show experience!


  3. Terry Chapman says:

    Hi Don! Have a good time delivering your “materials correctness” message.
    I’m glad someone cares so much about the wonderful traditions of fly tying and fishing. It’s what makes our sport so fulfilling. I’m still benefitting from your nymphing tips you gave me on our trip back in 2006 on Spring Creek. We “killed” em.

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Terry;
      Always nice to get your comments! Thanks for the bit of “nymphing” validation! Thanks for your encouragement and support of my work too! Appreciate that!

  4. Paul says:

    I’d like to see the Carries Ghost fly tied… The technique for the shoulders and cheeks are something I’d like to witness you perform and explain to me.. But, just to pick your brain on Sunday will suffice “can’t make it Saturday” Looking forward to the show and although I’ve been a regular for years? being a salt guy my tying never really expanded to this genre but I’m really looking to change that.. perhaps you’ll set me on that path when I meet you formally for a change..Regards, Paul (A KC CHIEFS FAN)

    • paul says:

      Don, I really enjoyed watching you tie that fly… if i’d have known how much went into it I’d have not asked as it was lengthy and technical and didn’t want to put you out.. but selfishly I am glad I did.. a work of art. and since it was the second one you did, I was afraid to ask to buy if from you.. I just didn’t want to come off scootchy or anything.. I came home and watched the video/pics and impressed is an understatement.. the amount of joy this brought me to watch again is priceless.. thank you so very much and in the coming weeks (or after the Christmas holiday) I hope to annoy you further as I try my hand at it… great great experience for me… I hope this message finds you home safe and I again thank you for one of my best visits to the symposium in the past few years… Paul

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Paul;
      As you know, since I saw your comment before I left for the Symposium, I came prepared to that that fly for you. 😉 I enjoyed meeting you and also tying Carrie’s Ghost as well! Thanks for your interest! Very nice meeting you!

  5. Paul Bugeja says:

    Attached Looped Leader Material on Wet Flies: I am wondering how the loop to loop connection is used for these traditional wet flies, specifically the threading of the fly through the loop to make the connection without damaging the fly in the process. Are they using a different process of attaching the fly to the leader?

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Paul;
      The loop-to-loop connection was always made with a snelled wet fly, which is tied in to the shank of the hook during fly construction; they had to do this in the 1800’s before technology allowed the formation of the hook eye. Snelled wet flies were initially made on blind-eye hooks, but anglers loved the “system” so much that the use of snells on eyed hooks persisted for 60 or more years after eyes were first made on hooks. So the loop on the leader / dropper was passed through the loop on the snell. I would see no need or advantage to pass a leader loop to or through the eye of a wet fly hook.
      Thanks for your question. 🙂 Remember too, that wet fly leaders should be fairly stiff monofilament, not third generation supple tippet material.

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