Kelley’s Killer – Carrie Stevens Pattern

A year or so ago, I posted the Kelley’s Killer as presented in the Carrie Stevens book, “Carrie Stevens: Maker of Rangeley Favorite Trout and Salmon Flies,” 2000, by Graydon and Leslie Hilyard. I tied three of them according to the recipe presented in their fine book. As it turns out there is another version of the Kelley’s Killer, tied by none other than the “First Lady of Rangeley Streamers” herself (my own play on words), Mrs. Carrie G. Stevens. My friend Jim Kennedy, bought an original Kelley’s Killer tied by Carrie Stevens, last year at the Somerset, New Jersey, Fly Fishing Show. This fly is an eye-opener. It is a “full-dress” version of her streamer tying, identical to the famous Gray Ghost in every single component. Tag, ribbing, body, hackle, wing shoulders, and here is where it gets interesting: Peacock herl underbelly, golden pheasant crest underwing, plus a golden pheasant crest to finish off the throat. Like I said, it is identical in each single part, to the last detail, as her Gray Ghost. The only things different are the materials and the colors. Here you go:

Kelley's Killer, original streamer tied by Carrie G. Stevens.

Kelley’s Killer, original streamer tied by Carrie G. Stevens. Note also the wing, not silver badger as listed in the Hilyard book, but golden  badger over lavender. Also the additional differences: Golden pheasant crest underwing, peacock herl underbelly, golden pheasant crest on the throat.

This makes me wonder. I know the Hilyards did extensive research and had very high standards on the process to certify “original” patterns by Carrie Stevens. Did she later add the extra components to this fly to schmaltz it up? One thing is sure, I like this one better than the one presented in the Hilyard book. Nothing against them at all, I love their book! But seeing an original, as opposed to a replicated pattern tied by someone other than the originator of the pattern; even if well-researched; well, I’m putting my money on this version that I see with my eyes as the “official” Carrie Stevens Kelley’s Killer. It could be as Chris Del Plato suggested, a variation of the pattern. But what a variation it is. More pics:

Kelley'dsd Killer, this is aan original streamer dressed by Carrie Stevens. Photo by Don Bastian. Fly courtesy of Jim Kennedy.

Kelley’s Killer, this is an original streamer dressed by Carrie Stevens. Photo by Don Bastian. Fly courtesy of Jim Kennedy.

Head, shoulder, and card macro, Kelley's Killer tied by Carrie G. Stevens of Upper Dam, Maine.

Head, shoulder, and card macro, a size #2 Kelley’s Killer tied by Carrie G. Stevens of Upper Dam, Maine.

Kelley's Killer - dressed by Carrie Stevens. Photo by Don Bastian. From the collection of Jim Kennedy. Hook size #2.

Kelley’s Killer – dressed by Carrie Stevens. Photo by Don Bastian. From the collection of Jim Kennedy. Hook size #2.

Kelley’s Killer – Carrie Stevens Recipe:

Body: Flat silver tinsel; * differs from Hilyard version of orange floss w/silver tinsel ribbing

Underbelly: 4 – 6 strands peacock herl; * additional from Hilyard version, followed by white bucktail

Throat: Lavender fibers, followed by a golden pheasant crest feather curving upward; * both components differ from Hilyard version

Underwing: Golden pheasant crest as long as the wing, curving downward; * additional from Hilyard version

Wing: Two lavender hackles with one slightly shorter golden badger hackle on each side; * golden badger differs from silver badger on Hilyard version

Shoulder: Tan-tipped Amherst pheasant feather

Cheek: Jungle cock

Head: Black with orange band

In all, this Kelley’s Killer tied by Carrie Stevens has six different components compared to the Hilyard pattern.

Last but not least, my humble version of the Kelley’s Killer, pattern recipe from the Hilyard book:

Kelley's Killer - Carrie Stevens pattern, dressed and photographed by Don Bastian.

Kelley’s Killer – Carrie Stevens pattern, dressed and photographed by Don Bastian. From a couple years ago; this was before I learned that the hackle, underbelly, underwing should all be the same length as the wing when dressing Carrie Stevens patterns according to her design specifications. “Ya’ don’t just tie the fly any old way and assume it is a correctly-dressed Carrie Stevens pattern.” – I said that.

And a threesome of Kelley’s Killers, all dressed by me: Better things to come in the new, expanded, and I’ll make certain, properly dressed to Mrs. Stevens’s Rangeley Streamer specs Kelley’s Killer soon to be tied:

Three Kelley's Killers, a Carrie Stevens original pattern,  tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Three Kelley’s Killers, a Carrie Stevens original pattern, tied and photographed by Don Bastian. They all need longer bucktail underbellies.

And the head and shoulder macro:

Kelley's Killer - head, shoulders, and cheek. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Kelley’s Killer – head, shoulders, and cheek. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Jim did give me permission  to “fix” the fly. The wings were crooked. So I did. Before the pics. I told him that steaming the fly would restore it. Indeed. He said when he got it back it looked better than when he bought it. How cool was it for me to hand-hold a Carrie Stevens original? Very! Thank you Jim!

Tomah Joe

Last weekend at the Fly Fishing Show in Somerset, New Jersey, a friend came by and gave me some barred wood duck flank feathers. On Saturday afternoon, I tied this fly for him, a Tomah Joe, dressed according to the original 1880’s recipe. My girlfriend, Mary Fortin, took the picture of it still in my vise with her cell phone. Here it is:

Tomah Joe, tied by Don Bastian. Photo by Mary Fortin.+

Tomah Joe, tied by Don Bastian. Photo by Mary Fortin. The hook is a blind-eye 2/0 antique hook. The red wool head is my personal addition. Oftentimes the heads on these old flies are rather unkempt-looking and unfinished.

Here is a photo I took at the American Museum of Fly Fishing in 2012 of the original fly plate that was used for the artist’s painting for the 1883 book, “Fishing With the Fly,” by C. F. Orvis and A. N. Cheney. The Tomah Joe is on the plate. This image was previously published on my blog.

Tomah Joe, Lake Fly pattern, at top right. This plate of Lake Flies is over 130 years old.

Tomah Joe, Lake Fly pattern, at top right. This plate of Lake Flies from the Orvis Company archives, now in the collection of the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vermont, is over 130 years old. The other patterns are: Bee, top left, No Name, Blue Bottle, Grasshopper, and Webster. This is one of the plates of Lake Flies from the Orvis / Cheney book.

Note the tail on the Tomah Joe is a single yellow hackle feather, not fibers, not a golden pheasant crest as is sometimes seen. Multiple examples of the Tomah Joe in the AMFF in Manchester, Vermont, remain consistent with this component of the dressing. That is why I used the material I did on the tail of the Tomah Joe I dressed at the show.

Tomah Joe

Tag: Flat gold tinsel

Tail: A single yellow hackle feather

Butt: Peacock herl

Body: Oval silver tinsel

Hackle: Scarlet fronted by yellow

Wing: Barred wood duck

Head: tiers discretion

Here is another photo I added via edit just today. A friend in Massachusetts bought this Tomah Joe from me in 2001. The pattern is tied as in Ray Bergman’s book, “Trout,” 1938. Not whole feather tips for wings, but slips of barred wood duck on each side. And yellow fibers for the tail. This is mounted the way I used to do it, put the hook point into foam bits on a card. Now I wire all the flies to the card…makes for a much better appearance.

Tomah Joe, recipe from "Trout" by Ray Bergman.

Tomah Joe, recipe from “Trout” by Ray Bergman.

Have fun!

Favorite Fishing Flies – 1892

This is the title of my upcoming book, the one that was originally announced here on my blog in November 2011. It was then shared by Fly Tyer Magazine Forum Moderator, David MacConnell, or “D Mac” as he was known. David and I had become friends, and he was frequently sharing my blog posts about streamers to the Fly Tyer Forums page. But he sadly passed away in October of 2013. Here is a link to that book announcement:

I will write more below on the book, to update a few things, and the contributing tiers list has changed. Several of the names on the 2011 Fly Tyer Forum list are no longer contributors, and new ones have been added.

The original title was “The Favorite Flies of Mary Orvis Marbury” but that was changed after a year to “Favorite Fishing Flies – 1892.” The reason I did that was because I felt my original title gave too much credit to Marbury, and folks might get the idea, as they clearly have with the phrase, “Ray Bergman wet flies,” that she originated these flies. That is not the case in either instance. I get questions about “Bergman wet flies,” or I read the phrase, “Bergman-style wet flies,” and there is really nothing to that, other than the fact that his book “Trout” – 1938, presented the largest collection of illustrated fishing flies that had ever been published, four-hundred forty wet flies in all. Bergman was modest as a fly tying teacher, and his section on tying wet flies in his book takes up barely three pages. He tied in the popular style of the time. The illustrations indicate that he used “closed wing style” as did nearly all the flies on Marbury’s book, but that he tied tip-up, whereas the patterns in Marbury’s book are nearly all tied tip-down. Bergman tied and fished popular wet flies and personal favorites. As far as “Bergman original wet fly patterns” there is only one wet fly pattern he originated, out of the nearly 500 different patterns that were mentioned in his three books and the second edition of “Trout,” 1952,  and that is the Quebec. Bergman originated nearly thirty dry fly patterns; fishing on top was his favorite method.

“Favorite Fishing Flies – 1892” will be a book containing individual photos of reproductions of all 292 flies from Mary Orvis Marbury’s book, “Favorite Flies and Their Histories,” 1892. These flies are tied by myself and twenty-some contributing tiers from the United States and Canada. Most of you know that my book project had been delayed for various reasons, but it is certainly not dead. Lack of support and zero response from the publisher for over a year-and-a-half is the reason. On the other hand, the delay has had the exceptional benefit in that I have been able to obtain valuable information on the actual tying procedures for these historic, classic flies of our fly fishing heritage. There will be step-by-step photos and tying instructions for all of the classifications of these flies except Salmon Flies. I am not qualified, nor is there a need to write any “how-to” on a topic where a plethora of information already exists. I have also been discovering additional patterns that will be included. I am including additional patterns on the 1893 Orvis Display from the Museum that are not in Marbury’s book.

I am in negotiations with a new publisher, and I will say more than one publisher is being considered. As soon as this is finalized I will let everyone know.

These old flies were made with silk and cotton thread, using the “reverse-wing” method to secure the wing to the hook. This also accounts for the “fat bodies” on the large Lake Flies, Bass Flies, and bigger trout flies. This was the result of the butt ends of the wings being lashed to the hook shank at the start of the fly construction, and then wrapped over with the thread and body materials as the fly was completed.

At the Fly Fishing Show in Somerset, New Jersey, over this past weekend, I had a conversation with Catherine Comar, the Executive Director of the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vermont. I visited the Museum two times in 2012 and again in 2013 to photograph the original fly plates from which the paintings were made to present artist renderings in Marbury’s book as colorful lithographs. I had some concerns about how this would come about, since I have photos of each fly plate, save for Plate Z which no longer is part of the collection. This will be the real gem of my book: my conversation with Catherine worked out a how full page photographs of all 31 of the 120-plus years old flies that were published in Marbury’s book, the lion’s share of which were never given recipes for, will be included in my book.

J. Edson Leonard, in his fine book, “Flies” 1950, made an effort to present the pattern recipes. But since I have seen, personally inspected, photographed, and studied both the original flies and the macro images I made from each plate of every single fly from the  original plates from which the Marbury book flies were made, I have discovered that many of the components previously published in both “Flies” and “Forgotten Flies” are incorrect. These material errors run from one to as many as six different items on one fly! My close scrutiny of these patterns will present a high degree of material component accuracy. I am very modest as a rule, but I will state that I am excited about publishing the exact recipes for these historic flies. I will make every effort through my editing process to ascertain the details and hopefully have few errors in the finished product. I am also excited about the fact that my book will contain fly patterns from the 1893 Orvis Display that have never been published anywhere, not that I can find.

Now regarding that post on the Fly Tyer Forum from 2011, I already described the title change and my reasons for doing so. Additionally, these tiers named there are no longer contributors: Dave Benoit, Mike Martinek, Jr., Stanley Miller, and Sharon Wright. Since then I have added John Hoffmann from Ontario, and Peggy Brenner from New Hampshire. This article and comments have been edited on February 2nd, and all I will say is the “As The World Turns” elements of the article and comments have been removed. Recent developments have made this choice very easy, besides being the right and gentlemanly thing to do.

I still need to photograph the flies from my contributors, I have a few flies to tie myself, and a couple chapters to write. Once at the publishers, “Favorite Fishing Flies – 1892” will not be far off.

Thank you all for your support and understanding.