Carrie Stevens – Silver Doctor

Not too long ago a friend sent me this picture of a streamer. At first we were not sure what it was, though we were both pretty sure it was a Carrie Stevens tied fly. My friend sent the image to Don Palmer, of the Rangeley Outdoor Heritage Museum in Oquossoc, Maine, and he identified it as a Silver Doctor, though sans a few parts.

It’s pretty well beat, missing both cheeks, and the shoulder is gone as well on one side. The significant part of this image is that you can see evidence of Carrie’s use of cement / varnish, in the interior section of the wing. In addition to pre-assembling and cementing her wing components in advance; hackles, shoulders, and cheeks, she applied cement to the inner portion of the wing to help hold the fly together, and also used it to help set the wings. Here you go:

Silver Doctor Streamer, tied by Carrie Stevens.

Silver Doctor Streamer, tied by Carrie Stevens. The jungle cock cheek is missing. The normally red head has oxidized and changed color from rusting of the hook.

And here is the revealing image that most of us never get to see:

The inside of a Carrie Stevens streamer fly - look closely, you can see residue of cement that held the shoulder in place. This also bears witness to how much cement she used, and how long of the stem portion of the feathers she applied it to.

The inside of a Carrie Stevens streamer fly – Silver Doctor, missing both the gray mallard shoulder and jungle cock cheek. Look closely, you can see residue of cement that held the shoulder in place. This also bears witness to how much cement she used, and how long of the stem portion of the feathers she applied it to. You can also see more of the throat fibers exposed, revealing a bit of her unique, self-taught, layering method of applying the throat to her flies. The copy of notes I have that were made by Austin S. Hogan, angling historian, and the first curator of the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vermont, reinforce all that I have described here.

Don’t forget, you can click on the pic, enlarge it, and be better able to view the cement residue. Remember, Carrie Stevens was a milliner by trade, so when she started tying flies in 1920 when she was already in her forties, it was only natural for her to apply what she learned in her trade to her new profession of fly tying.

The other thing that is noteworthy; you can also see the slight up-angle of the wing, the stems are not in perfect parallel alignment with the shank of the hook, as I’ve seen some tiers do, but are at a slight angle above the horizontal line of the hook shank. I mean to me, if you’re gonna tie Carrie Stevens patterns then I think they ought to be done as she did…that is, if you know the facts and have the ability to tie the fly in “true Rangeley Style.”

Thanks to my friend, Lance Allaire of Maine, for sending these pics to me.

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7 comments on “Carrie Stevens – Silver Doctor

  1. dlomasney says:

    Hi Don

    Wow!..that hook is pretty heavy duty!..don’t recognize the bend either.
    Were the wing hackles on the outside dun or were they blue and just faded to dun?
    Great stuff Don!
    thanks!

    Dave

    PS..the SD streamer pattern is not a Carrie Stevens pattern…correct?

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Dave;
      Not sure what hook that is — Carrie was known to use some Mustad hooks when she could not get her preferred Allcock hooks during and after WWII. Germans bombed the factory and it was not rebuilt. Plus the fact it is rusted some which tends to make steel “grow.” The Silver Doctor is not credited as an “original” by her, but a wet fly conversion….like she did on some others. Personally I think she very well may have been the one who did it first with the Silver Doctor…it’s in her track record. Thanks for your comments! 🙂

      • Scott B. says:

        Don, I am about 95% sure that is a Willis hook. Big Mike has the same or similar hooks in his collection and they are Willis hooks if I recall correctly.

  2. Kelly L says:

    Donnie, that is a stunning, rare look into Carrie’s tying. I am thrilled to see this. Your pictures really sealed the deal. Thank you so very much. Your takes on history, and beautiful photography, are second to none.

  3. Lance Allaire says:

    The photos were taken with my phone!! Lance

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