Just Fishing

It has been a long, long time since I posted anything here. Well, I’ve been busy. There were the scattered posts I made, the most recent but still old ones, referring to my drumming in a Classic Rock Band, my girlfriend, Mary – we got married on June 4th, and other things that have occupied my time. Between Mary and I, we have nine grandchildren. We also moved, from her home in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, where we were both living since July 2014, back to my home in Cogan Station. And that move was less than a month ago, on October 26th.

I am fairly active on Facebook, mostly for the band I am in, Pepper Street Band, and we also have a website: http://www.pepperstreetband.com. We played sixty-five bookings this year, and have twenty-five already lined up throughout 2017. But the boys have all decided we are not playing 65 times again this year. It will be closer to fifty.

I could write for days to try and get caught up, but why I am here now, well, it is because on Facebook, a friend and fellow fly tier just posted a photo of a book he bought a copy of: Ray Bergman’s first book, published in 1932, titled Just Fishing. He observed that there are no recipes for the fly patterns it contains. They were painted by Dr. Edgar Burke, who had done all the color fly plate paintings for Bergman’s books. I have been fortunate to personally see eight of the original plates Burke painted for Trout, (1938), and have a good idea of what his work represents in terms of translating that to tying materials used for specific patterns. So, thanking God for the data stored in a computer file, I can see that I created a particular Microsoft Word Document file on March 17, 2005. What is it? Ha! A detailed recipe list for all the flies in Just Fishing. I personally give this list an accuracy rating of about 99%, (Nobody’s perfect!).

So here it is:

Fly Pattern Dressings from Just Fishing (1932) by Ray Bergman – compiled by Don Bastian from close study of the color plates, since the actual dressings are not listed except for the streamer and bucktail patterns from the black and white photographs at the end of the list.

Plate 1 – Special Lures

Wet Fly Patterns:

Logan – Tag – gold tinsel; Rib – gold tinsel; Tail – red & yellow married; Body – brown floss; Hackle – brown; Wing – married yellow w/crimson stripe; Head – orange w/peacock herl at base of wing.

Brougham’s Cohoe – Tag – silver tinsel; Tail – golden pheasant crest; Rib – silver tinsel; Body -red wool; Hackle – red; Wing – dark brown turkey with thin strip of yellow at upper and lower edge; Head – black.

Never-Was – Tail – peacock sword fibers equal to body length; Body – peacock herl; Hackle – over-sized, dark green tied palmer; Wing – orange; Head – peacock herl & black.

Black Nymph Creeper – tie on 2x long hook – Tag – gold tinsel; Tail – guinea; Body – silver tinsel with sparse golden pheasant tippet at mid point, tyed as a top veiling equal to 2/3 length of tail; Wing – white hackle tyed streamer; Hackle – black collar; Horns – two fibers peacock sword.

Pink Nymph Creeper – tie on 2x long hook – Tag – gold tinsel; Tail – orange fibers; Rib – black silk; Body – pink floss with single strand of white ostrich herl as a top veil at second turn of rib; Wing – sparse peacock sword fibers; Hackle – pink and white collar intermingled.

Yellow Nymph Creeper – tie on 2x long hook – Tag – silver tinsel; Tail – two tips short yellow ostrich herl; Rib – black silk; Body – pale yellow floss with sparse golden pheasant tippet as top veil equal to end of tail tyed in just behind mid-point; Wing – yellow hackle tyed streamer; Hackle – yellow collar; Horns – two fibers of peacock sword.

Dry Fly Patterns:

Orange Fish Hawk –  – Rib – gold tinsel; Body – orange floss; hackle – badger.

March Brown – Tail – long, sparse fibers of Mandarin flank; Rib – finest gold tinsel; Body – Hare’s Ear dubbing; Wing – barred turkey; Hackle – cree with little or no white.

Brown Spider (Hewitt) – Tail – brown hackle fibers; Body – tying thread – Hackle – Brown, over-sized; fronted with white.

Nymph Patterns:

R.B. Stone Fly Creeper – tie on 3x long hook – Tail – guinea fibers; body – yellow underside, brown above; Rib – black thread; Legs – guinea fibers in three separate bunches, the first just to the rear of mid-point, second half-way to head, third just behind the head.

Grannom Nymph – tie on 2x long hook – Body – medium olive dubbing, tapered slightly larger in thorax; Legs – finely barred teal flank tyed as a collar.

Inch Worm – tie on 4x long hook – body – thin light olive dubbing; hackle – light olive collar.

Blue Olive Nymph – tie on 2x long hook – Tail – dun fibers, short; Body – gray floss; Thorax – dark gray dubbing; Hackle – dark dun hen as a collar.

Pale Olive Nymph – tie on 2x long hook – Tail – light dun, short; Body – pale olive floss; Thorax – pale olive dubbing; Overback – light slate quill section over abdomen; Wingcase – light slate quill section over thorax; Legs – light dun hen fibers swept to sides.

Iron Blue Nymph – tie on 2x long hook – Tail – dark dun fibers, short; Body – dark gray floss; Rib – black silk; Thorax – Iron Blue Dubbing; Wingcase – dark slate quill section over thorax; Legs – Dark slate fibers swept to both sides.

Carot Nymph- tie on 2x long hook – Tail – brown hackle; Abdomen – orange floss; Thorax – gray dubbing; Hackle – light dun hen tyed as a collar.

Just Fishing – Plate 2 – Wet Flies

In the book illustrations, the tying style of nearly all these patterns differs significantly from those later shown in Trout (1938), and those in With Fly, Plug, and Bait (1947). There are scattered slight differences in the dressings, but the main variation lies in the style of hackling the flies. These patterns from Just Fishing were painted by Dr. Edgar Burke from originals furnished by Wm. Mills & Son in New York. Virtually all the wet flies illustrated in Just Fishing were tied using the older, traditional style of “collaring” the hackle, even in front of the wing. Bergman was among the early 20th Century angling writers to popularize the practical form of tying a wet fly using a “throat” or “beard” hackle. Though in 1850, James Wright, creator of the Durham Ranger, wrote of a “false” hackle. Wright also created the Greenwell’s Glory. All heads are black unless noted otherwise.

Green Drake – Tail – mallard flank dyed pale green; Body – pale green dubbing; Rib – peacock herl;  Wing – Mallard flank dyed pale green; Hackle – brown; Head – Yellow with peacock herl.

Cahill (Dark) – Tail – Mandarin; Body – blue-gray fur;  Wing – Mandarin; Hackle – brown.

Montreal – Tail – red; Rib – gold tinsel; Body – claret floss; Wing- dark brown mottled turkey; Hackle – claret.

Gray Hackle (Red) – Body – red floss; Hackle – Silver-gray Badger.

Red Quill – Tail – brown fibers; Body – stripped peacock quill; Wing – light slate; Hackle – red brown hen.

Fish Fin – Body – pink floss; Wing – White quill; Hackle – dark furnace.

Maginty (note spelling variation) – Tail – red and gray mallard; Body – alternate yellow and black chenille; Wing – white-tipped turkey; Hackle – brown.

Coachman – Body – peacock herl; Wing – white quill; Hackle – brown; Head – white with peacock herl.

Quill Gordon – Tail – dark dun fibers; Body – peacock quill; Wing – Mandarin; Hackle – dark dun.

Olive Quill – Tail – light olive fibers; Body – peacock quill;  Wing – light slate; Hackle – light olive.

Seth Green – Rib – yellow silk; Body – dark green floss;  Wing – dark brown mottled turkey; Hackle – brown.

Dr. Breck – Tail – jungle eye; Body – silver tinsel; Wing – married white with wide red stripe; Hackle – scarlet. Head: white with peacock herl.

Little Yellow May – Tail – three long fibers of pheasant tail; Body – pale yellow floss; Rib – gold tinsel;  Wing – Mallard dyed pale yellow; Hackle – ginger.

Cowdung – Tag – gold tinsel; Rib – gold tinsel; Body – dubbed brown; Wing – light slate; Hackle – brown.

Brown Hackle – Body – peacock herl; Hackle – brown.

Professor – Tail – scarlet; Rib – gold tinsel; Body – yellow floss; Wing – gray mallard; Hackle – brown.

Silver Doctor – Tip – silver tinsel and yellow floss; Tail – golden pheasant crest; Tag – Red floss; Body – silver tinsel; Rib – oval silver tinsel; Wing – in order from top – Barred Mandarin, Florican, teal, yellow, blue, scarlet, topping of golden pheasant crest; hackle – beard of blue and guinea mixed; Head – red.

Orange Fish Hawk – Tag – gold tinsel; Rib – gold tinsel; Body – pale orange floss; Hackle – gray badger.

Beaverkill – Tail – long gray mallard; Body – white floss; Wing – light slate; Hackle – brown.

Royal Coachman – Tail – golden pheasant tippet; Body – peacock herl with band of red floss in middle; Wing – white; hackle – brown.

Grizzly King – Tip – gold tinsel; Tail – scarlet; Rib – gold tinsel; Body – dark green floss; Wing – teal; Hackle – badger.

Parmacheenie Belle – Tip – silver tinsel; Tail – married red and scarlet; Rib – silver tinsel; Body – yellow wool; Wing – married white with red stripe; Hackle – scarlet and white. (I corrected the spelling on this).

Montreal Silver – Tail – scarlet; Body – silver tinsel; Wing – dark brown mottled turkey; Hackle – claret.

Grannom – Tag – peacock herl; Body – buff wool; Wing – light brown barred turkey; Hackle – Brown.

Black Gnat – Body – black chenille; Wing – slate; Hackle – black.

Lord Baltimore – Tail – married yellow and black; Rib – black silk; Body – orange floss; Wing – Black with jungle eye; Hackle – black.

Red Tag – Tail – red wool; Body – peacock herl; Hackle – brown tied palmer.

Light Cahill – Tail – Mandarin; Body – pale ginger dubbing; Wing – Mandarin; Hackle – ginger.

Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear – Tail – Mandarin; Rib – gold tinsel; Body – hare’s ear dubbing; Wing – slate.

Hawthorne – Tip – gold tinsel; Tail – black fibers; Body – rear 2/3 black floss, front 1/3 black wool or fur; Wing – black; Hackle – black.

Wickham’s Fancy – Tail – brown fibers; Body – gold tinsel; Hackle – brown tied palmer; Wing – slate.

Campbell’s Fancy – Tail – golden pheasant crest; Rib – oval gold tnsel; Body – gold tinsel; Wing – teal; Hackle – brown.

White Miller – Tip – silver tinsel; Rib – Silver tinsel; Body – white floss; Wing – White; Hackle – white; Head – white with peacock herl.

Blue Quill – Tail – dark dun fibers; Body – peacock quill with light and dark bands; Wing – slate; Hackle – dark dun.

Iron Blue Dun – Tail – brown; Body – rear 1/3 red floss, front 2/3 gray dubbing; Wing – dark slate – Hackle – brown.

Just Fishing – Plate 3 – Dry Flies

Owre – Tail – gray mallard; Tag – gold tinsel; Body – cream dubbing; Wing – Mandarin; Hackle – ginger.

Light Hendrickson – Tail – Mandarin; Body – medium blue-gray fur; Wing- Mandarin; Hackle – light blue dun.

Light Cahill – Tail – Mandarin; Body – cream dubbing; Wing – Mandarin; Hackle – ginger.

Wallkill – Tail – cream; Body – olive floss; Wing – Mandarin; Hackle – cream.

Hendrickson Egg Sac – Tail – Mandarin; Body – gray floss, yellow chenille tag; Wing – Mandarin – Hackle – dark dun.

Cahill (Dark) –Tail – Mandarin; Body – dark blue-gray fur; Wing – Mandarin; Hackle – brown.

Pinekill – Tail – Mandarin; Body – gold tinsel; Wing – Mandarin; Hackle – furnace.

Bataviakill – Tail – brown fibers; Body – black floss; Wing – Mandarin; Hackle – olive.

Quill Gordon – Tail – dark dun fibers; Body – peacock quill; Wing – Mandarin; Hackle – dark dun.

Special Queen – Tail – golden pheasant tippet; Body – gold tinsel palmered with under-sized brown hackle; Wing – Mandarin; Hackle – brown.

Basherkill – Tail – pale yellow fibers; Body – light olive floss; Wing – Mandarin; hackle – pale yellow.

Paulinskill – Tail – cream; Body – white floss; Wing – Mandarin; Hackle – ginger.

Hendrickson – Tail – Mandarin; Body – dark gray fur; Wing – Mandarin; Hackle – dark dun.

Brown Bivisible – Tail – brown fibers; Body – brown hackle; few turns of white hackle in front.

Badger Bivisible – Tail – badger; Body – badger hackle, few turns of white in front.

Black Bivisible – Tail – black; Body – black hackle, few turns of white in front.

Fan Wing Royal Coachman – Tail – golden pheasant tippet; Body – peacock herl with red floss band in center; Wing – white duck breast fan-wing; Hackle – brown.

Bridgeville Olive – Tail – cream fibers; Body – white floss; Wing – mallard flank dyed yellow; Hackle – cream.

Fan Wing Pink Lady – Tail – golden pheasant tippet; Body – pink floss; Rib – gold tinsel;  Wing – white duck breast fan- wing; Hackle – brown.

Blue Spider – Tail – Mandarin; Body – gray fur; Hackle – blue dun, large.

Wickham’s Fancy – Tail – brown fibers; Body – gold tinsel with palmered brown hackle; Wing – slate; Hackle – brown.

Royal Coachman – Tail – golden pheasant tippet; Body – peacock herl with red floss band in center; Wing – white quill; Hackle – brown.

Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear – Tail – brown; Body – hare’s ear dubbing; Rib – gold tinsel; Wing – slate; Hackle – rabbit fur guard hairs.

Black Gnat Silk Body – Body – black floss; Wing – slate; Hackle – black.

Coachman – Body – peacock herl; Wing – white; Hackle – brown.

Pink Lady – Tail – golden pheasant tippet; Body – pink floss; Rib – gold tinsel; Wing – slate; Hackle – brown.

Little Marryat – Tail – ginger fibers; Body – light gray fur; Wing – light slate; Hackle – ginger.

Iron Blue Dun – Tail – two long fibers moose body hair; Body – rear 1/3 red floss, front 2/3 gray fur; Wing – dark slate; Hackle – brown.

Note: On the Royal Coachman, RC Fanwing, and Pink Lady fan wing, I also add a tag of flat gold tinsel.

Special Flies – from Just Fishing – a short list of streamers and bucktails.

R.B. Streamer – Wing – white polar bear, yellow bucktail topping; Body – silver tinsel; Cheeks – scarlet feathers.

Lady Doctor – Wing – white polar bear, black bucktail topping, jungle cock eye; Tail- yellow; Tag – red floss; Body – yellow with palmered yellow hackle; Cheeks – scarlet feathers.

Ballou’s Special – Wing – sparse red bucktail underwing, white marabou topped with 8 or 9 peacock herl tips, jungle eye; Tail – golden pheasant crest; Body – silver tinsel.

Highlander – Tail – Dominick (grizzly); Body – silver tinsel; Wing – yellow hackles under badger hackles, long jungle eye; badger hackle collar.

Conger’s Lassie – Tail – Dominick (grizzly) hackle tips; Body – gold tinsel; Wing – orange and badger hackles, long jungle eye; Hackle – black collar.

The patterns noted with the initials “RB” are Ray Bergman originals. And remember, written fly pattern directions, when correct, should be easily tied correctly without a photo or image. Married wing and tail components are always listed from the top down. And a tag is always under the tail, and a tip is at the end of the body and always encircles the tail.

Hackles – Photo Tutorial on What’s What

A quick hackle / photo visual tutorial:

A rooster and diagram illustrating where specific feathers that fly tiers use come from on thee bird's body.

A line-drawn rooster and diagram illustrating where specific feathers that fly tiers use come from on the bird’s body.

I saw this old, or what seemed to me to be old, image on facebook this morning, and right away, thought to myself, ” I get these questions a lot.” Good numbers of people in my classes or folks I speak with at shows and fly tying demos don’t know where on a bird certain feathers come from. Or they don’t know the difference between neck hackles, saddle hackle, or hen back feathers.

The saddle hackles on a hen might be called ‘saddle hackles’ but are more often called ‘hen back’ feathers. The spade hackles on a rooster are merely wide ‘hen back’ feathers on a hen that have very long webby fibers. And the spey hackle on the rooster is also called ‘schlappen.’ Note in particular, the well-illustrated differences in the comparative shapes of the neck, saddle, spade, and spey feathers. A similar ‘shape difference’ applies to hen feathers as well, neck vs. saddle, with all the hen feathers being shorter and more webby that those same feathers from a rooster.

Saddle hackles generally have thinner stems than neck hackles, making them very nice for drys because the thinner stem winds easier and results in less bulk, and while they (saddles) will contain dry fly hackles, the sizes are usually larger, suited for use on big drys. In fact, I’m working on some orders now for Fan Wing Royal Coachman drys; sizes #8, #10, and #12, and some nice, natural brown, vintage saddle hackle I have is working out very well. I’m headed to Maine and Lakewood Camps and the Rapid River next week for a few days, as a diversion from my invited participation as one of the featured fly tiers at the Carrie Stevens Weekend at the Rangeley Outdoor Sporting Heritage Museum in Oquossoc on June 26 – 28. I plan to tie some of those Fan Wing Royals in a #6 size to perhaps tempt a large landlocked salmon or even better, a big brook trout to the surface. I’m sure it has been a long, long time since any anglers have drifted a big Fan Wing Royal Coachman on those fabled waters, and that my friends, is in my favor. 😉 And for that I will be using a long 3x tippet. 😀

Neck hackles are better suited for winging streamers, at least on older rooster capes, and thankfully, on the newer genetic ‘streamer necks.’ Just remember, whether it’s a rooster or hen: Neck = cape; saddle = back, spey = schlappen. That’s pretty much it. Thanks for reading. 🙂

Bastian’s Floating Caddis / Mayfly Emerger

I had announced this on my facebook page last week, but I also wanted to post something here. I am pleased to announce that the Orvis Company has picked up for the third year, my original pattern, “Bastian’s Floating Cadddis Emerger.” It is offered in their online catalog:

http://www.orvis.com/store/product_search_tnail.aspx?keyword=bastian%27s+floating+caddis+emerger

This pattern was created in 2006, a revised fly that began in 1996 with my original Hatching Caddis Adult pattern. It has been field-tested in Pennsylvania; on Penn’s Creek, Big Pine Creek, and Spring Creek. I also used it successfully on the Beaverkill in New York, and Montana’s Madison River, and my brother has used it on Maine’s Penobscot River for land-locked salmon. It has also proven itself as a very effective still-water fly. Since its release with Orvis, a customer and his wife from Massachusetts, who guide with the 2014 Orvis Guide of the Year, Tim Linehan, used it on the Missouri River in 2013 and hammered ’em. Tim had not seen the pattern previously and was surprised by its success. He bought some from me afterward.

Here is a photo of Susan Ukena with Tim Linehan, and a fine Missouri River rainbow that took my emerger – a #14 tan:

Sue Ukena and Orvis 2014 Guide of the Year, Tim Linehan, with a Missouri River rainbow that fell to Bastian's Floating Caddis Emerger.

Sue Ukena and Orvis 2014 Guide of the Year, Tim Linehan, with a Missouri River rainbow that fell to Bastian’s Floating Caddis Emerger.

I also wanted to get the fly on the MyFlies.com site, but could not in good conscience place the same pattern there. So I made two changes in the pattern, number one, the way the hackle is applied. On the MyFlies.com version, Bastian’s Floating Caddis / Mayfly Emerger, I side-lash the legs. And number two, I added a chartreuse foam indicator to the top of the fly and the neck, between the body and head section. This helps improve visibility of the fly, which rides on the surface. It is called an emerger, but this fly is actually a dry fly, even though it is unconventional in its appearance as a dry fly. Another thing about it, even if swamped by surface turbulence, it remains in the film. That is why the hi-vis indicator is helpful. Plus I have successfully for the last three seasons, doubled-up and used a tandem dry fly rig with this pattern; a sulfur dun and a ginger colored “sulfur” version of Bastian’s Floating Caddis / Mayfly Emerger. The larger, high-floating, more visible dun pattern keeps your eye tracking the drift of the emerger as well. Trout flash, swirl, boil, or just show themselves under the dun, and they are generally always looking at, or most times, have taken the emerger. This is why I have trained myself to be quick to strike at any sign of a trout. Even with just 10″ of tippet between the dun and emerger, the dry fly does not always give indication that the trout took the emerger. They are faster and quicker on the “take and spit” than most of us ever realize.

There are about ten or eleven articles here on my blog related to this pattern. Use the search tab, type in “Floating Emerger,” hit the enter key and they will come up. Lots of photos, success stories, tactical stuff, tying instructions…it’s all there.

Here is a pic from the MyFlies.com site:

This is the gingeerr colored veersion of Bastian's Floating Caddis / Mayfly Emerger, this KILLS on Speing Creeek and any stream where the sulfurs, Ephemerella rotunda exist.

This is the ginger-colored version of Bastian’s Floating Caddis / Mayfly Emerger. This fly KILLS on Spring Creek and any stream where the sulfurs, phemerella rotunda exist.

A customer here in Pennsylvania recently ordered some of these. Here is a quote from the e-mail I got the other day when he received his order:

“Received the flies. Once again, I am just stunned at the character of these flies in person, I am not surprised they are so killer.”

These flies are available from Orvis, or from MyFlies.com. I also offer them in custom colors and sizes, I have tied them as small as #20, and as large as a #10 – 2x long in brown as a Slate Drake Emerger. Now all we have to do is wait for Spring…

Spring Creek – First Trip 2014

Yesterday afternoon a friend, his son, and me went to Pennsylvania’s Spring Creek with hopes of catching some sulfur mayfly activity. We did. This article is a brief report on that trip.

The day was bright and sunny, and we selected a section of the stream to fish from the west bank, allowing for the sun to be at our backs. This gave us the advantage by reducing glare and minimizing eye strain, and also hid us from the fish because they have the glare in their right eye. We fished a section flowing from right to left. I always consider that whenever possible.

I started the first twenty minutes or so by giving my friend’s son, Sam, a lesson on nymph fishing. This was a refresher course on a demo that I had given him a few years earlier. As I narrated the approach, casting, targeting, drift management, striking, moving the indicator depending on the depth and current speed of the target area, and hook-setting, I had a couple strikes, and then, the one fish I did manage to hook, was lying in a most unlikely location, which added significantly to the learning impact of the lesson. The trout was holding in just a riffle, shallow, barely fifteen inches deep. Object lesson learned: “Don’t pass up any potential spot, even it you think it is too shallow, at least not on this crick.”

We hooked a few trout on nymphs, then adjourned stream-side for an early dinner of baloney and cheese sandwiches with mustard, before the hoped-for evening hatching and feeding activity. We started fishing again about five PM. Only an occasional trout rose, so I stayed with the nymphs and worked my way upstream through some riffles and pocket-water. I hooked a few trout, but nothing to write home about. For a change of pace I decided to start tossing a dry, or rather, my two-dry fly rig that I started using last year. This set-up is a sulfur dun of various styles with my Floating “Sulfur” (Caddis) Emerger trailing off this fly with about ten inches of 5x tippet. I tie it to the hook bend. After I made about three casts, I hooked a trout on the Floating Emerger. Took his photo as he reluctantly posed for me. The very next cast another trout took the emerger. I thought, whoa, this is gonna be great! Well, it was, almost, but not right away.

My first Spring Creek trout of 2014

My first Spring Creek trout of 2014, taken on my Floating Caddis – Mayfly “Sulfur” Emerger, a #14.

I walked downstream to a pool where my companions were, checked in with them, and since they had a few risers, and caught a few trout, I decided to move below them and try some riffles and pockets. I caught this guy on a #14 Sulfur Poly-wing Thorax Dun:

First trout that took the sulfur dun

First trout that took the sulfur dun in my two-dry fly rig.

I keep both these drys close together because they never alight with the tippet stretched out. The intent is to prevent the two flies from getting into current lanes with different speeds. If I have twelve inches of tippet between the two flies, the two patterns are often only a few inches apart. Trout can see both of them, I believe, and make their choice. The Floating Emerger was rising more trout in the afternoon, but as the hatch intensified, they seemed to prefer the dun, though all along trout continued to hit both flies.

We did not have a heavy hatch, and not a lot of trout were actively rising; it seemed sporadic at best. Still we caught trout. After hooking and raising several trout in the water below the pool where my companions fished, I started back up through the same section of riffles and pocket water I had fished previously, and decided to tie on a #12 Sulfur Parachute Dun. Why a size twelve, you ask? Well, some of Spring Creeks sulfurs are nearly that big, I’ve seen enough of ’em over the last twenty-five to make the assessment with certainty. The other reason, and there are a few are: It was about seven PM, and a larger fly would be easier to see on the rough water I was fishing, and also easier to see as daylight faded into dusk. A larger fly would float better. A larger fly would be easier for the trout to see as well.

So that’s what I did, and trout took the large sulfur dun with no hesitation. The first trout I rose was in a fast riffle, and he smashed the fly; he was about fourteen inches. Every fish that took that fly, whacked it, but then again I was fishing faster, rather turbulent riffle and pocket water and they don’t have a lot of time to think about it. I like the challenge of fishing like this because it is very difficult to get the fly to drift naturally in many of the likely-looking spots. The heavy water allows me to get close enough to almost “dap” the flies on the water, very similar to close-range high-stick nymphing, because often I had only a few feet of fly line extending past the rod tip.

This trout was the fish of the day for me:

Sixten-inch Spring Crek brown taken on a #12 Sulphur Poly-wing parachute Dun.

Sixteen-inch Spring Creek brown taken on a #12 Sulphur Poly-wing Parachute Dun.

And since he, or rather, “she” was a nice trout, she warranted a few more pics:

head out of water, in the net. I always try to keep larger fish in the water, and always do when I'm photographing the fish by myself. And with a net.

Head out of water, in the net. I always try to keep larger fish in the water, and always do when I’m photographing the fish by myself. And with a net. You can see my fingers underneath her. To those unaware, the absence of a kype or hooked jaw, indicates this trout is a female.

And here she is posing in a lovely full-body image:

16" Spring Creek Brown, taken ion a #12 Sulfur Poly-wing  Parachute Dun.

16″ Spring Creek Brown, taken on a #12 Sulfur Poly-wing Parachute Dun.

I took another smaller trout later on:

Smaller trout, about ten inches,

Smaller trout, about ten inches, you can clearly see the parachute dun. When I want to photograph trout like this, I actually bring the trout in close, then before I touch the fish, I turn on my camera and hit the macro button. Sometimes after doing this the trout gets away, but I don’t care, I’m releasing it anyway. Once the camera is readied and “on,” I grab the fish, snap a pic, unhook the fly, and they’re quickly back in the water. I wet my hands first. When doing this I have the fish out of the water for about 5 – 6 seconds.

At this point I want to say, anyone keeping fish out of the water for photographs for more than ten seconds after you have played them into submission, presents the risk of harming the fish through lack of oxygen. Speed it up, preferably, respect the fish, and keep them out of the water as little as possible. Imagine someone holding your head under a bucket of water to take photos of you immediately after you just ran the 200-yard dash. That is the position the trout are in when we bring them to hand. And don’t get them on shore where you can drop them and have them slip and flop out of your grasp and die from trauma after being released. I recently read a study on steelhead trout, tagged with radio collars in the Pacific Northwest, where a significant number were dying after being caught and released. The data discovered that most of these fish died of head trauma, caused by thrashing about or being dropped onto the rocks on shore, and not from being hooked with rod and reel.

And here is the intact rig with the actual flies that did the deeds:

Size #12 Sulfur Poly-wing Parachute Dun

Size #12 Sulfur Poly-wing Parachute Dun with a #14 Floating “Sulfur” Emerger, patterned exactly after my Floating “Caddis” Emerger – the only change is the body dubbing color to ginger and I use orange thread. There was only eight inches of 5x tippet separating the two flies. Both flies are treated frequently with floatant.

This two-dry system works. I plan to try a Sulfur Dun and Sulfur Spinner together, that way the trout won’t treat me with disrespect like they did last year one evening, when the dun hatch fizzled out, and there were tons of spinners in the air, I thought I knew better and tied on a spinner. I ended up casting the spinner to about fifty rising trout, only to hook a handful of them. Turned out the dun hatch reignited and went gangbusters from about 8:15 until dusk, and the trout took the duns to my dismay, but I learned that lesson. I should have recognized that sooner. In the type of pocket and riffle water I was fishing, a Dun / Spinner two-dry fly rig will work. I’m about to test that out. 😉

Here are two links to articles on the Sulfur Emerger I wrote last May 2013, including the recipe and tying instructions:

https://donbastianwetflies.com/2013/05/31/bastians-floating-caddis-sulphur-emerger/

https://donbastianwetflies.com/2013/05/31/bastians-floating-sulphur-emerger-part-ii/

Fly Order (SPAM)

Perhaps I’m getting a little creative in an odd sort of way, by throwing the word SPAM into the title of this article. I have actually gotten quite a few laughs over the last couple years by reading the ever increasing volume of some of the SPAM that comes into donbastianwetflies.com. Not that I spend a lot of time reading it, I don’t. It comes from everybody and their brother and their mother and their aunt and uncle and their in-laws and cousins and their lawyer and the pool boy and the plumber and brothers and sisters and where to buy shoes and drug companies and your credit score and porn sites and new windows and easy loans and online dating and Viagara and Cialis and Levitra and loan me money and best new food recipes and a host robotic cyber morons pretending to be a real person…ugh…it is actually pretty ridiculous.

This morning, after not checking here for several days, I had a new record-high for SPAM; 574 items. Course I don’t read these, I just fly through them ASAP and hit “delete, delete, delete, delete…” until they are gone into the trash bins of cyberspace. Or where ever it is that they end up…

So, getting back on topic, here are a couple pictures of a recent fly order that I shipped out, one of many that I have recently received through the site, www.MyFlies.com.

Flies...

Flies…a mixed-bag order that went out to a single customer. Extended Body (my design) of closed-cell foam; Slate Drake duns and spinners in multiple styles, Green Drake Spinners, a few of my Floating Caddis-Mayfly Emergers, the RSP, my Low-water Inchworm, and also my own design of the Floating Inchworm. The gray wings on the Slate Drakes might look like CDC, but it’s actually plain, old poly yarn.

Macro of previous photo.

Macro of previous photo. Note the olive body on the Floating Caddis-Mayfly Emergers.

And a macro of the BXB (Bastian Extended Body) Green Drake Fan Wing pattern:

Fan Wing Coffin Fly

Fan Wing Coffin Fly. The Hook is a Tiemco 2488 light-wire, wide-gape, up-eye scud.

BXB Green Drake Coffin Fly, inspired by the Dette Coffin Fly

BXB Green Drake Coffin Fly, my original design; inspired by the Dette Coffin Fly and the Coffin Fly from Trout (1938) by Ray Bergman. Since these flies were tied, I figured out how to put three tails on these patterns, just like the real Ephemera guttulata mayflies have. I clip the hackle on the bottom so the fly floats lower in the surface film, and this also helps it ride right-side up.

An authentic original Dette Coffin fly, tied by the Dette's Fly Shop, Roscoe, New York. It is not known whether Mary Dette tied this fly or not.

An authentic original Dette Coffin fly, tied by the Dette’s Fly Shop, Roscoe, New York. It is not known whether Mary Dette tied this fly or not. This pattern is tied on a 1x long dry fly hook. This fly was a gift from a friend, fellow Pennsylvanian, Bill Havrilla. Thanks Bill!

As I slowly gain ground on my fishing fly orders, I am catching up a little bit. I shipped five orders so far this week, but I also received three new orders. Right now I still have twelve orders from MyFlies.com stacked up, plus some other custom orders waiting to hit the vise. That’s the main reason why I have not been out fishing yet. In fact on Saturday April 12th, I was out late the night before, got awake at 3:15 AM, started thinking about stuff, never got back to sleep and got out of bed at 4:30, and by five AM I was already tying. It wasn’t until I went to the post office and drove past the Quiggleville Community Hall at 10:30 AM and noticed that I had missed the Annual Fishermen’s Breakfast. Dang. See:  https://donbastianwetflies.com/2012/04/15/opening-day-on-spring-creek-pennsylvania-part-ii/

It wasn’t until that moment when I drove by and realized I missed the Annual Fishermen’s Breakfast that I even remembered it was the Opening Day of Trout Season in this part of Pennsylvania. I missed out…more so on the breakfast than on the fishing. The water was high and kinda muddy, but I bet that locally grown, home-made sausage, farm-fresh eggs, and pancakes was real tasty!

Fanwing Royal Coachman and Royal Coachman Wet Fly

I recently finished an order of Fanwing Royal Coachman dry flies and some Royal Coachman wet flies along with the drys. The Fanwing Royal Coachman was among the most popular of all fanwing patterns, which grew to popularity in the late 1920’s. A wide variety of existing dry fly patterns were adapted to fanwing versions, largely due to their popularity. Fanwings remained popular through the 1950’s and even into the early 1960’s. The Fanwing Royal Coachman remained on Ray Bergman’s “Favorite List of Dry Flies” in all three of his trout fishing books, covering a time span of twenty years.

I tied my first Royal Coachman nearly fifty years ago, and it was a favorite top-water pattern of mine. See also:  https://donbastianwetflies.com/2011/02/08/fan-wing-royal-coachman-dry-fly/

There’s a few fish stories in that older piece that do not need to be repeated here. Instead I’ m posting these photos:Royal Coachman FW and Wets 003Size #8, #10, and #12.

Two dozen Fanwing Royal Coachman Drys, #8, #10, and #12.

Two dozen Fanwing Royal Coachman Drys, #8, #10, and #12. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

And the forerunner to the dry fly Royal Coachman, the Royal Coachman wet fly:

A dozen Royal Coachman wet flies, #6 and #8, carded up to make them look nice.

A dozen Royal Coachman wet flies, #6 and #8. I tied the wings on these in the old-school- traditional style that was popular in the 19th century.

The original version of the Royal Coachman wet fly had a tail of barred wood duck, but the Federal Migratory Bird Act of 1918 put an end to that. I’m guessing at that time the present golden pheasant tippet fibers for tail came into use for this pattern, since wood ducks, hunted to near-extinction, along with the wide-scale 19th century logging that severely reduced their favored nesting sites – tree cavities, were given national protection and were not legally hunted nationwide until 1959.

All carded up to make them look nice for my customer.

All carded up to make them look nice for my customer.

Hackles on the wets are hen, wound as a collar. White duck wing quill sections on the wet flies, and white male wood duck breast feathers on the fanwings. There are tinsel tags on both dry and wet patterns, and the body is red floss and peacock herl.

Martinis and Thread Wraps

I’m sitting here tying some classic Fanwing Royal Coachman drys, just started on some #8 hooks; all two dozen hooks #8, #10,#12, have the wings already mounted, so the hard part is done! This thought hit me as I set the tinsel tag on the first hook:

What is the similarity between Martinis and thread wraps to secure tags, tails, floss, ribbing?

One is not enough, three is too many!

Yup. Tie in and wrap the tag, secure with two wraps. Add the tail, secure with two wraps. Add the peacock herl for the rear of the body, and here of course you have to wrap forward to the hook point. I’ll try to get photos to post before I ship the order.

Pink Lady Fan Wing Dry Fly

Considering my fly tying and fly fishing roots, in that I was exposed to Trout, 1938, by Ray Bergman at age 12, and also How To Tie Flies, 1940, by E. C. Gregg; these two books had a profound influence on my early interest and education in tying flies. Other than seeing my dad tie three flies, I never saw anyone else tie a fly for ten years, except my brother, Larry, since we shared dad’s tying tools and materials until he went away to college in 1972. Primarily because of those two books you could say I am a classically-trained fly tier. Similar to a musician who was classically-trained, but I have stayed closer to my traditional roots than a classically-trained musician who becomes a performer of rock or jazz. My traditional fly tying roots include stories of how the Fan Wing Royal Coachman was a favorite dry fly pattern of my father, Donald R. Bastian.

Ray Bergman wrote about the Fan Wing Royal Coachman in his books, but it was not until later in my tying career that I obtained a copy of Ray’s first book, Just Fishing, 1932. Bergman’s account in Just Fishing describes his initial revulsion at the mere appearance of the Fan Wing Royal Coachman, and then continues in the text of that book as to how and why the pattern quickly became one of his favorite dry fly patterns.

From the single color plate of dry flies in Just Fishing, painted by artist Dr. Edgar Burke, there is a Fan Wing Pink Lady. I always thought that was a beautiful fly. Over a decade ago, bowing to my classically-trained fly tying roots, I put together a boxed selection of five different Fan Wing dry fly patterns, containing, of course the Royal Coachman, plus a Light Cahill, March Brown, Green Drake, and the Pink Lady. Last season during the shows I sold the last boxed set I had, but I have had a few dozen fan wing flies completed, ready to make up a few more sets, save for tying a couple more of the patterns to complete the selections.

The Pink Lady became a well-known dry fly pattern, thanks to George M. L. LaBranche, who in 1914, authored The Dry Fly and Fast Water. LaBranche is credited for originating the Pink Lady. In the 1920’s when Fan Wing patterns became popular, it was only natural that someone would take the Pink Lady and convert it to a Fan Wing pattern.

Here is a Fan Wing Pink Lady that I tied a couple years ago:

Fan Wing Pink Lady - the hook is a size #10 standard fine wire dry fly hook.

Fan Wing Pink Lady – the hook is a size #10 standard fine wire dry fly hook. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Fan Wing Pink Lady

Hook: Standard dry fly hook, size #8 to #12

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 #2 Cream

Wings: White duck breast feathers, see footnote below *

Tag: Narrow flat gold tinsel

Tail: Golden pheasant tippet

Ribbing: Narrow flat gold tinsel

Body: Pink floss, pale in color

Hackle: Light ginger

Head: Cream

* Male wood duck breast feathers can be used for the white wings, though during the Golden Age of Fan Wing Drys in the 1920’s and ’30’s, wood ducks were under the protection of the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. Nearly driven to the brink of extinction by loss of habitat due to intense logging and unrestricted market hunting, the extirpation of the wood duck was a definite possibility, considering the fate of the passenger pigeon. Mandarin duck feathers were used, as were also the breast feathers from small breeds of white domestic ducks. Wood ducks were fully protected starting in 1918, but some states allowed limited hunting of wood ducks to resume in the late 1940’s. ‘Woodies’ were not hunted again nationwide until 1959. Thankfully wood duck populations are presently healthy, the result of intensive duck box nesting programs and sensible hunting practices.

I apologize that I do not have a front view of the fan wings, but you can check my recent post on the Fan Wing Royal Coachman. The wings look the same. Wing sizing should be equal to the length of the entire hook. A heavier tippet, 4x, is best when fishing fan wing drys, and minimizing your false casting also works to your advantage.

I listed the wings as the first ingredient, because when tying these flies, it is advisable to mount the wings first. I believe there is feather mounting information in my Fan Wing Green Drake post. Don’t forget you can use the search key tab at the to right of my home page; just type in a topic you are looking for, and hit ‘enter.’

The Fan Wing Pink Lady is a classic dry fly pattern.

Fanwing Coffin Fly

A while back I posted a Green Drake Coffin Fly pattern that I developed with the white foam extended body. It was patterned after the Dette Coffin Fly, which has a white body, short-clipped palmered white hackle, teal breast feathers for wings, and a silver badger hackle. A few weeks ago I also had the inspiration to tie that same fly, but instead add the curved, short teal center breast feathers to create a classic, fanwing pattern. I recall that idea came to me by simply noticing a single teal “fanwing” breast feather lying among my fly tying stuff, and as I picked it up and looked at it in my hand, I decided to make my extended body Coffin Fly pattern into a fanwing version. I know, it’s way past green drake time and that won’t come again for another ten-and-a-half months, but I just today added this pattern to MyFlies.com along with my BXB Green Drake Coffin Fly, and I also will be adding the classic Fanwing Royal Coachman as one of my patterns there before too much longer. I seem to be in a mood to tie and call attention to fanwing patterns, and I and some of my customers have had some great fishing this year on my extended body March Brown, Slate Drake, Green Drake, and Yellow Drake patterns in a number of locales in several states, so here is the Green Drake Fanwing Coffin Fly:

Fanwing Coffin Fly

Fanwing Coffin Fly – the imago, or spinner pattern for the eastern green drake, Ephemera guttulata. The hook is a Tiemco 2488 #10. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Fanwing Coffin Fly

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 #4 Pale Yellow

Body: White closed-cell foam, cut into strip about 2mm wide from 2mm sheet

Tails: Three moose body hairs

The Abdomen with tails is made on a mandrel held in the vise; I upgraded to a tube fly jig for this procedure several months ago, but I used to use a simple straight pin or needle. Once the abdomen is made, and I generally make these by the half-dozen at least, usually more, that is attached to the rear of the TMC 2488 hook, just ahead of the barb. But first:

Before mounting the abdomen to the hook, switch tying thread to Danville Flymaster #100 Black, then mount the wings on the hook, just ahead of the mid point of the body. It takes practice to get the wings straight, and they seldom tie on straight, but I discovered a method long ago of using the thread to my advantage. I care not for how they set on the hook; I just want to get them on there, both at once. Once they are mounted, stand them up by damming thread in front of the stem butts, and when they are about vertical, if one or both wings are curved at all to the left or right – which they most likely will be – you start with one feather, post the thread three times taut, but not tight, around the base of that feather. You have to think which way to wrap, because you’re going to use increased thread tension to twist the crooked wing into perfect alignment. This means you have to think and analyze which way you need to spin the feather to straighten it. After posting around the base of the wing, then wrap around the hook shank once, making sure you’re back to clockwise winding, and then pull slowly. The taut, but not previously tight thread will tighten and s-t-r-e-t-c-h around the base of the feather stem, and from this action, the wing feather will twist right or left as needed (and premeditated by the tier, um, that would be you) into the proper position. Repeat this for the other wing, if necessary.

If either wing needs to be turned or twisted to the left, then you post around the base of that stem counterclockwise. If either stem needs to be turned to the right, then you post clockwise. Don’t forget to wrap once or twice around the hook shank before to attempt to tighten the thread to straighten out the wing. It’s a snap. Guess I’ll have to make another video…

After doing this to both wing feathers, if necessary, I then post around the base of both stems together. Doing this means you also have to mount the feathers to the hook with some bare stem on both feathers above the hook and tie-in point. This prevents you from wrapping over any barbs at the base of the wing stems, which if you did, there would be barbs askew at the base of the wings. Not pretty.

Wings: A matched pair of curved teal breast feathers

Body: Black rabbit dubbing

Hackle: Silver badger

Head: Black

This pattern and most fanwings of any size, should be fished on 4x tippet to minimize twisting.

Here’s a front-view of the wings:

Fanwing Coffin Fly -

Fanwing Coffin Fly – front view of divided, over-sized wings, characteristic of fanwing patterns.

Here is a link to the product page for my BXB Fanwing Coffin Fly and this new, Fanwing Coffin Fly on MyFlies.com: http://www.myflies.com/BXB-Green-Drake-Coffin-Fly–P806.aspx

I’m sure some of you will want to see that fanwing tie-in procedure, so I will attempt to make another video, but I’ll also be happy to demonstrate it at any of the shows where I’m appearing. Thanks for reading!

Boat Dog

One of my friends and a fly customer, Steve Sawczuk, from Plainville, Connecticut, invited me this past winter to join his group again at the Wantastiquet Trout Club near Weston, Vermont. We arrived on June 16th, and spent several days there. Fellow fly tier and friend, Roger Plourde, was there,  – See my Silk Gut for Sale Post – that’s Roger, he still has some available. He is also from Plainville and was an invited guest as well. Last year Steve invited me, and I ended up taking Abigail, my Cocker Spaniel, along. We had great fishing to evening hatches of yellow drakes, and we hoped to hit that hatch again. We were a week later, but last year the weather was unseasonably warm early on. There were six of us in the group: Steve, Roger, Dick Heffernon, Bill Keister, Ray Riley, and myself. This year Abigail tagged along again, and Zeb, a Border Collie mixed-breed, owned by Ray, another Trout Club member, joined the group as well. He and Abigail got along great. Zeb rides in the boat. Abigail on the other hand, at eleven-and-a-half years of age, has never been in a boat in her life. That was, not until this past June 17th.

Zeb and Ray

Zeb and Ray returning to our camp at the Wantastiquet Trout Club.

On Monday afternoon, I decided to try taking Abigail in the boat. At first she was hesitant, in fact, probably terrified is a better description, because I could not coax her to come to me in the boat. I actually had to get out of the boat and catch her, then physically carry her back to the dock and place her in the boat. Once we motored off, she pretty much settled down and was about as passive and uninterested as she possibly could be about the whole experience. We drifted and anchored and motored about, trying here and there, catching a decent number of trout, and yet Abigail seemed, well, bored, which she expressed by lying flat on her side. But she’s a very low-key dog anyway, unless there is some possibility of her snagging a morsel of food. It doesn’t matter if it’s a dog treat or people food, regardless, she wants it, twenty-four-seven. I feed her one cup of kibble per day and a few other treats, and that’s it. Whenever she’s in a group of people, no matter how many, if only one had some food, even a stranger, Abigail becomes their new best friend. She was a little overweight for a couple years when my mother-in-law was caring for her during a rather unsettled period of my life from 2008 to August of 2011, but once I got her back and got her food under control, she’s right where she’s supposed to be with her weight.

Arriving at camp there was an immediate problem, because Zeb is fed with an “open feeding” policy, and the very first thing Abigail did upon entering the cabin was to follow her nose, zero in on Zeb’s bowl and start eating his food. I wrote Ray in an e-mail beforehand indicating that she would do that. The poor little girl is now also about ninety-percent deaf. Fortunately even as a pup, I trained her not only with voice commands, but also simultaneously used hand-signals as well. That has proven to be fortuitous. When she was a younger dog, it was a good feeling to simply give her a mere hand signal and have her come, sit, stay, etc. Now, it helps a great deal, and could even save her life.

Anyway, with each occasion that Abigail got into the boat, she got more used to it, and I believe she grew to enjoy it more and more. The first two times when we docked up after fishing, she was afraid to make the three-inch jump from the seat of the boat to the dock. But the third and subsequent times, she left the boat without hesitation.

Abigail

Abigail – the “Boat Dog” – surveys the lake as Ken Hall, aka Quill Gordon, author of Fish in A Barrel Pond Blog, handles the trolling motor, guiding us to a “hot spot” on the lake. Sorry to cut your body out of the photo Ken, but Abigail is the star of this show. Besides, your pictures are coming up soon.

This is a photo of our camp.

This is a photo of our camp. That’s Ray on his cell phone, talking on the porch because you can’t get a signal inside. Funny how moving just a few feet makes the difference in the signal strength.

heavy weather moving in.

Heavy weather moving in Tuesday afternoon on Wantastiquet Lake. At the time I was in the boat with Dick Heffernon, another guest in the party. We had a bit of an experience with this approaching storm.

On that Monday afternoon I was with Dick in the boat, and the storm was well to the north at first, though we could hear the thunder far off. We were hopeful that it would pass without incident. After a little while, there seemed to be darkening clouds gathering more to our immediate west, and we thought about moving the boat closer to camp, just in case we had to bolt for the dock.

Clouds and rain in t

Clouds and increasing wind create ominous conditions of an imminent storm.

At about this point, I looked to the west, and there appeared to be a bank of fog moving in. But I knew it was no fog bank. It was rain; the kind of rain that is so heavy it can cut visibility to near-zero. Visibility was still good, however, and I estimated the rain was about two miles distant. Dick and I quickly agreed that we’d better haul our butts toward shore. Roger and Ray had passed us about five minutes earlier, calling the fishing over for a while, with the thunder approaching and getting louder.  But right before we made the decision to get of the water, Dick got his fly line got tangled around the propeller on the trolling motor. I dropped the anchor to keep us from drifting down the lake, which would have carried us farther away from our dock and camp. When Dick raised the motor up, he could see that there was no hope of untangling his line from the prop, considering the wave action effecting the boat, plus the reality that Dick would have to be possessing the body of a professional gymnast or a contortionist circus performer to assume the necessary posture and balance to do the work at hand. And that he is not, nor am I. Option number two was to row, row, row the boat back. But there wasn’t going to be any singing of that traditional campfire round during this trip.

Just then a fantastic, jagged, sprawling, and very bright jolt of lightning streaked across the sky over the mountain to the north. The ends of its long, scraggly fingers dipped below the horizon, perhaps a strike somewhere. I quickly pulled the anchor, mounted the oars, and started rowing. We had to travel about a quarter of a mile. When we were about 100 yards from the dock, the wind increased exponentially in velocity, seeming to blow about thirty or more miles per hour. It came up very fast, and despite my best exertion of rowing strength and efforts of guidance with the oars, we missed the mark and the boat settled against the shore, fortunately though, only about thirty feet from end of the dock. By now it was starting to rain, luckily for us not pouring, but the wind was blowing like it was during the storm scene from the movie The Wizard of Oz. Except in our situation there was no funnel cloud, no musical sound track, and the Wicked Witch of the West was not flying across the sky on her broom threatening to cart me and Abigail off to her lair. In retrospect that would have been a perfect and entertaining time for me to do my best falsetto imitation of the Wicked Witch: “I’ll get you yet, my pretty, and your little dog, too! Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, h-a-a-a-a-a!”

Dick and I managed to reach the dock, chain the boat, and get out of Dodge. It had started raining, though not real heavy yet, which was a good thing because we had to walk about fifty yards to our camp. Just as we reached the safety of the cabin, the wind and rain arrived with a vengeance. Indeed, in less than one minute the rain was so heavy we could not see across the lake, and in fact, we could barely see the dock fifty feet away. The cabin porch faces directly to the west, and the wind drove that rain right through the screens onto the porch and everything on it. Fortunately a half-hour later the storm had passed and the lake was again calm. We watched as a few trout started rising, but we made a trip to the grocery at Londonderry, and after returning, we hung around camp, enjoying camaraderie, libations, and cigars while waiting for dinner. I also set up my fly tying stuff and hoped to tie a few more extended-body Yellow Drakes, since most of the guys took trout on them Sunday evening, despite that fact there was not really a big hatch of them. What I actually ended up doing that afternoon was repair several flies that I had given Steve and Roger. Steve had one of my Yellow Drakes from the year before, that the hackle came partially unwound – see this post from Fish in A Barrel Pond Blog: http://fishinabarrelpond.com/2012/06/25/trout-candy-eye-candy/ So I repaired it for him, a simple matter of attaching a new hackle feather.

I’ve never had one of my extended body drake patterns fall apart in any way, but Roger had one where the thread ribbing over the extended abdomen came off. I basically made a new abdomen, cut off the old one, and attached the new one in its place. Ken was watching me do this work, and the guys were all getting a big kick out of it and commenting on “Don’s Fly Repair.” At one point Ken made the remark, “Would you like to purchase a Service Agreement with that fly for an additional five dollars? Guaranteed repairs for the life of the fly.” By the time I completed the repairs, it was time for me to clear the table for dinner. I had made lasagna ahead of time on Sunday morning before my departure, chilled but not baked it, and also created a tossed salad, and a fresh-made pecan pie (I made it myself) that was still warm when we served it right after dinner. If you checked the post above, you’ll note from Quill Gordon’s photos that the weather was nice enough in 2012 for me to have my tying stuff permanently set up on the cabin porch. That was the year we were sipping the “Weapons Grade Head Cement Thinner, aka Moonshine. 😉 It was too cold this year. We had a few night time temps in the upper forties and low fifties.

I don't know whether Abigail was looking or sniffing, probably both.

I don’t know whether Abigail was looking or sniffing, probably both. Something seemed to have her attention. Perhaps she saw a fish.

Abigail, Queen of the Boat.

Abigail, Queen of the Boat.

The middle seat became Abigail's favorite resting place.

The middle seat became Abigail’s favorite resting place. Yeah, as her owner, I’m partial and prejudiced, she’s a beautiful little girl and her beauty is only enhanced by her sweet disposition. Ray noted her facial markings are appropriate, her eye mask makes her appear like a little bandit. Indeed!

Ken and I motored about, here and there…picking up an occasional trout.

At one point we passed close to Ray and Roger.

At one point we passed close to Ray and Roger…and Zeb.

Zeb is very interested in what goes on in the boat. He sees trout rise and practically goes on point if they surface close to the boat. He knows the sound and the reason of a reel drag, and has learned to associate that sound with a hooked fish. He still gets excited even if one of the anglers in his boat merely strips off more line to make a longer cast. He loves being in the boat so much that he’ll just go sit on the dock and wait, hoping to go fishing.

Ken Hall

“Quill Gordon” has a fish on.

Ken, aka Quill Gordon, wrote a post on his blog and made a few remarks about our visit and my time with him in the boat. To check that out follow this link:

http://fishinabarrelpond.com/2013/06/22/stubbornly-waiting-for-drakes/

The Caddis Emerger Ken refers to in his writing is my Floating Caddis Emerger, or more appropriately, my older pattern called the Hatching Caddis Adult, which is also another surface caddis emerger pattern.

On Tuesday afternoon, I was with Steve in the boat. We trolled a bit and drifted here and there. He was fishing various nymphs and drys with a George Mauer Sweetwater bamboo rod, a seven-foot, nine-inch seven weight. I used my sink-tip and was casting a Wooly Bugger. I managed to draw only two strikes, and Steve had done nothing. I said, “I’m thinking of putting on my Floating Caddis Emerger, I can’t do any worse with that than I am with this Bugger.” Next thing I know, in barely three minutes, Steve has a fish on. I asked, “What did you get him on?”

“You’re not gonna believe this, but I got him on your emerger pattern,” He replied.

“No s***!” I exclaimed. I hadn’t even noticed that he changed flies. Steve soon got another trout. By then I changed to a floating line and also put on a Floating Caddis Emerger, a tan-bodied pattern. Steve caught another trout. And another. And another. Meanwhile I could not buy a strike with my fly. I inspected his, and it was one of some that he had tied during the winter, with a darker ginger-brown body than what I had. What we both found interesting too, was that if no trout took the fly after the cast was made, rather than pick up and cast again, Steve worked the fly in slowly with a hand-twist retrieve. It would remain on the surface, or just under the film, so he’d either see a surface take or a swirl and feel the strike. And as my luck would have it I had left a container of those flies at home on my tying table. By the time he tallied seven trout on that fly in less than an hour, Ray and Steve trolled by. “Are you guys getting anything?” Roger queried.

“Steve is kicking my ass with my pattern,” I answered laughingly. Steve chuckled with obvious satisfaction.

“What’s that?” Roger inquired.

“My Floating Caddis Emerger,” I said. “The tally for our boat is: Steve – seven, me ZIP!”

A little while later, Steve offered for me to try casting his Mauer bamboo rod. He had mentioned that earlier, since indicating in an e-mail that he’d he recently bought that rod, I replied that I had known George Mauer for a few years before he passed away. The wind had died down and the lake was flat. I can’t say what the trout thought this fly was, because there were no caddis about, other than an occasional stray. Yet as we drifted about fifty yards from shore near a small cove, the first trout that rose within casting distance, fortunately for me, rose twice, just as I was making a cast. I was also standing up, which helped me adjust quickly. I was able to immediately alter my distance and targeting, and sighting the two rises in succession I determined the fish was moving from right to left. Trout in lakes and ponds seldom remain stationary as they do in flowing water. They cruise for food and it’s always a crap-shoot when you try to target a rising trout in a lake because he’s got a three-hundred sixty degree radius for possible movement and change of direction after the rise. I led the second rise by about four feet, hoping he was moving in that direction, and as luck would have it, he must have seen it hit the water. The trout came right up, slowly, we could both see the fish. He tipped up and without hesitation, kept coming and gently sucked in the fly. “Fish on!”

I offered Steve his rod back, but he was relaxing in his chair, smoking a cigar and said, “No, you go ahead.”

“Thanks! I’ll take you up on that.” I replied. We drifted a while, I cast here and there, enjoying the feel of the rod, and occasionally Steve turned the prop on the trolling motor a bit to keep the boat positioned just off shore. The next trout I took I did so while I was fishing blind, in other words, casting without seeing any rises. The water was flat calm and suddenly as I watched my fly, I saw something white off to the right, it was moving, then I realized it was the belly of a trout. Then I saw the shape of the fish. He was closing the distance to the fly, rising up, and just like the first trout, never stopped until he reached the fly and confidently gulped it in. Fish on again!  It was a very good feeling that we had success with my pattern during rather adverse conditions. Or at least the conditions did not seem so adverse, it was a nice, calm afternoon, it’s just that the trout were not on the feed.  Steve and I tallied nine trout that afternoon, to the other guy’s couple, or maybe three per boat. When we got back to camp, I made myself a spicy Bloody Mary and set about tying a batch of ginger-colored #16 Floating Caddis Emergers.

Quill Gordon brings a trout to the boat.

Quill Gordon brings a trout to the boat.

On Tuesday evening Ken offered to take me in the boat. Abigail and I graciously agreed. The photo above is of Ken landing one of the fish he took. I took two fish on my Floating Caddis Emerger, since we really were not seeing Yellow Drakes in numbers to say there was an actual hatch. And this was after Steve had done so well with it earlier in the day. But alas, I lost my last Floating Caddis Emerger in a fish, doing something that I know from experience I should not have done. Life is like that. On occasion we do the wrong thing even when we know better. I grabbed the 5x tippet and held on to it, trying to remove the fly from the jaw of a fourteen-inch brown, and when he made a sudden lunge, I hung on, and he broke the tippet knot and took the fly. I could have replaced it with one of two well-worn Floating Caddis Emergers, but I have retired both of them from service, except that I ask them to pose for an occasional photo to demonstrate their effectiveness. The photo posted there, of one of them, in late December of 2012, and again below, was one I took thirty-four trout with. The foam overback is all chewed and tattered, but otherwise the fly is intact. I ended up using an older pattern, another original fly I created in 1996 that was actually the predecessor to my Floating Caddis Emerger, mentioned above, it’s called the Hatching Caddis Adult. There’s a whole ‘nother collection of fish stories about that pattern as well. I’ll add that pattern and recipe and fish stories here sometime next week.

As I fished the Hatching Caddis Adult, a dry fly pattern similar in a number of ways to the Floating Caddis Emerger, I demonstrated to Ken how, if during a retrieve or pull of the line, that fly, due to its components and design, when treated with floatant,  submerges, but then when you stop, it resurfaces. The pattern literally breaks through the surface film. So does the Floating Caddis Emerger. I had demonstrated that about three times, even saying, “Watch this!”

Ken said, “That’s pretty cool,” and just then, SWOOSH! A nice trout struck the fly. But he missed, there was no connection when I raised the rod tip. But the point was made with additional emphasis from the fish. Nice!

A well-used Bastian's Floating Cadis Emerger, this fly lanede thirty-four trout in May of 2006.

A well-used Bastian’s Floating Caddis Emerger, this fly landed thirty-four trout on Spring Creek, Pennsylvania, one day in May of 2006. This pattern can be ordered from Orvis, http://www.orvis.com/store/product.aspx?pf_id=7R6A

I recently created a revised version of the Floating Caddis Emerger pattern that I have been selling. Bastian’s Floating Caddis-Mayfly Emerger with a ginger body, as I’m calling the revised pattern is available to order from me. I made a couple alterations to change the fly so it would not compete with the contract I have with Bastian’s Floating Caddis Emerger with the Orvis Company.

Bastian's Floating Caddis-Mayfly Emerger

Bastian’s Floating Caddis-Mayfly Emerger. I decided to add the chartreuse foam strip for an indicator to improve visibility of the pattern. The other difference is that instead of a single hackle wrap, I side-lashed hen back fibers for the legs.

Other than myself, the first anglers to test the new Hi-vis version of my Floating Caddis Emerger were Tom Ukena and his wife Sue, of Northborough, Massachusetts. They were on the Missouri River the first week of June, guiding with Tim Linehan, the Orvis 2013 Guide of the Year, and they really did extremely well with that pattern, taking as Tom wrote in an e-mail, “a good number of great fish, 18″ to 21”. I’ll be making a separate post about that fly before too long.

There was a nesting pair of loons on the lake this year.

There was a nesting pair of loons on the lake this year. The male stands guard not far offshore from the nest, and believe me, we knew he did. Not alarmed by our boats, but when a great blue heron flew over he cut loose with a loud, raucous, threatening series of calls and wails that I’m sure, included what would pass for loon profanity. The heron kept his distance.

The female loon on the nest, incubating two eggs.

The female loon on the nest, incubating two eggs. The top of her mate’s head is in the foreground.

On Quill Gordon’s Stubbornly Waiting for Drakes post, there is a photo of both loons and their freshly-hatched chicks on the water. And a bunch of yellow drakes too. Check it out!

PorterCove

Porter Cove on Wantastiquet Lake. I was in the boat with Bill, and while there I took two trout on my Floating Caddis Emerger. One of them was a fifteen-inch brown that smashed the fly like a largemouth bass hitting a plug. The water here is quite shallow, and since it was flat, I had to make some pretty long casts, probably sixty feet, to take trout. That’s one reason why I favor a six or seven-weight rod for boat and float tube fishing. Too much effort to struggle with a three or four-weight, especially if it’s windy and long casts are required. Even if you can cast fifty or sixty feet with a three-weight, it usually requires an extra effort of false casting. I believe ninety percent of all your casts can and should be made with only two backcasts – including your pickup stroke. In the end the reason for this is all about increasing your fishing efficiency.

Sunday June 16th on my way to camp, I stopped at the American Museum of Fly Fishing in nearby Manchester on a prearranged visit. Deputy Curator Yoshi Akiyama had the remaining seven plates of the original Orvis flies that were published in Mary Orvis Marbury’s book Favorite Flies and Their Histories, 1892, gathered together for me to photograph. They were not there in June in 2012 when I made the initial series of photos for my upcoming book, Favorite Fishing Flies – 1892. On my way back to Pennsylvania on Thursday June 20th, I stopped again at the museum and photographed another dozen or so flies from the 1893 Orvis Fly Display that I had not previously included. I’ll be adding these pattens to my book, increasing the number of additional fly patterns to about two-hundred twenty-five, beyond the two-hundred ninety-one from Marbury’s book. By the way, the new display, The Wonders of Fly Fishing, is now open at the Museum.

And so concludes another visit to Wantastiquet Lake. We all had a great time!

I just threw some seasoned chicken thighs on the grill, turned the heat down low, and I’ll leave them slow cook for at least an hour. In the meantime, I’m going to go make myself a spicy Bloody Mary.