Carrie Stevens and Rangeley Style Streamers

I have received several requests for information on the hackle / throat method on Carrie Stevens Rangeley Style streamer patterns that I have been using for over two years. While I have adapted my application of the throat fibers using a bobbin, compared to Mrs. Stevens tying “in-hand” this method and placement of the throat is basically the same method created by Carrie Stevens and gives the flies the style, appearance, and correct method of dressing her unique Rangeley Style streamers, if one desires to be historically correct in tying Carrie Stevens streamers with the accuracy of her original designs. Photographic instructions of this process are in the Carrie Stevens book by Graydon and Leslie Hilyard.

Don Bastian Wet Flies

Those of us who tie streamers, and that’s probably most fly tiers unless one is a dry fly purist – I know at least one of those, and he casts only to rising trout, have heard the phrase Rangeley Style streamers. Just what does that mean? I believe Carrie Stevens of Upper Dam, Maine, with her unique, self-taught method of tying streamers, is the originator of this style, and she alone is to be credited with creating the Rangeley style streamer. I have recently come under the conviction that to tie Rangeley style streamers means to tie streamers employing Carrie Stevens’s methods. I’m not referring to merely tying her patterns and cementing the wings, which I began doing a year-and-a-half ago. Learning more about her material placement this summer was for me, the last part of the journey toward my ultimate arrival at fully utilizing her methods of material placement…

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6 comments on “Carrie Stevens and Rangeley Style Streamers

  1. Hi Don, great to hear from you again:)

    Must be kama because my copy of the Hilyard book arrived today!


    • Don Bastian says:

      Cool Darrell!
      Kharma indeed! I though there was info in there worth bringing attention to…thank you for your comment! You’ll enjoy that book for sure! And have fun tying – learning how to dress those patterns. 😉

  2. Mike Cipriani says:

    Don, hello. I am really thinking about tying the Rangeley streamers, could you give me some advice as to where I could obtain the correct materials for these flies. Thank you for any advice….Mike

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Mike;
      Your question is kind of a “loaded one,” in that there is no simple, short answer. But I’ll try…some of the items are fairly easy to get. Hackle for wings is the hardest to find, in the desired quality and shape. I use both neck and saddle feathers; neck feathers mostly from capes. Either is suitable, but you are always looking for the perfect shape, not long and skinny, and not wide and fat – they gotta be just right. 😉 I posted an article here a while back on the “perfect shape” hackles for streamers; it had photos and examples. Saddle hackle, I buy strung saddle, not all of it is useable, and it’s always best to check them out in a shop, rather than take your chances on mail order. I have gotten some really nice batches of strung saddle at L.L. Bean in Freeport, Maine. I’m lucky to have been tying, buying, and collecting materials for a long time. I have a bunch of packs of strung saddle from Universal Vise, a company now out-of-business. That was some great stuff!
      You’ll need silver pheasant feathers, golden pheasant crests, mallard and wood duck flank feathers, and depending on the diversity of patterns you want to tie, more body feathers for some of the Carrie Stevens patterns that use the more off-the-beaten-path feathers, like the Amherst pheasant, ruffed grouse, Reeves pheasant for shoulders.
      Bill Keough has some good streamer necks, but they are sold in his “salt water capes” category, not his dry fly capes. Used to be, the Metx, CQH, Orvis, and other brands of dry fly hackles had nice streamer feathers on the lower part of the cape, these were especially great for the larger streamers, even tandems. Again, I’m lucky to to still have some of those…when I was tying commercially I did lots of drys, and I went through LOTS of grizzly hackle. After using up most of the #10 thru #20 feathers, they mostly sat here until I started tying streamers in larger quantity, when I got re-interested in Carrie Stevens patterns and replicating her exact assembly methods back in 2011, I found that these 7 -8 grizzly capes held quite a nice supply of perfect streamer wing feathers. The best advice I can give you is to keep checking fly shops, look at the inventory. Whiting has some decent American capes, with a streamer designation. Some shops in Maine, Eldredge Brothers for one, carry a decent supply of this stuff.
      Strung saddle can be nice, but necks are best, because you can more efficiently match feathers, lefts and rights, each with the desired curvature, and the cape offers a “file cabinet” for the correct size and match of feathers. There’s more of a major article here, but I hope I have offered you some help on this. I apologize for the delayed reply…thanks for your question! Good luck!

  3. bmanser says:

    I’m sad to report that the streamer tying elite community has lost a member. As mentor for our Project Healing Waters program, Don Soar made a huge contribution with his personal and fly fishing and tying skills. At 51 a heart attack was not on the radar. We miss you Don.

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