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!

Bergman Fontinalis – Classic Wet Fly

The Bergman Fontinalis and the Fontinalis Fin were the first two brook trout fin wet fly patterns that I ever saw. I’ve written about this before, but at age twelve, my brother, Larry, and I fished with flies for the first time at a farm pond near our cabin in Tioga County, Pennsylvania. We caught lots of bluegills that day. I don’t recall what Larry used, but I fished a Yellow Sally. We became hooked on fly fishing, and when we returned to the farm house that served as our cabin, my dad showed me his copy of Trout. It’s a first edition, 9th printing of the 1938 classic. I still have it with his signature in ink inside the front cover, penciled notations in the margins with the pattern recipes in the back, like “sizes 8-10-12, good for brookies,” and I treasure it. I remember him saying it was a Christmas gift from my aunt and uncle.

Recently I tied up six classic wet flies as part of an order for a customer in Alberta, Canada. The Bergman Fontinalis posted here is the fourth pattern in that series, following the Parmacheene Belle, Fletcher, and Golden Doctor. I have five more classic wet flies, mostly Lake Fly patterns, that were tied last Wednesday, July 10th, during a private fly tying lesson with a student from south-eastern Pennsylvania. I have already photographed all those patterns and plan to post them here as well.

One highlight of Dave’s visit was that he wanted to learn how to fish wet flies. Since my area had received more rainfall and storms than normal, I informed him a week or so in advance that we’d have to play any fishing by ear. On Thursday morning July 11th, I took him over the hill to nearby Lycoming Creek. The water level was falling from recent thundershowers, and it was up quite a bit and off color, but you could see bottom in three feet of water. I gave Dave a crash-course in wet fly fishing, demonstrating casting, mending of line, tending of the drift, rod-tip position, and the hand-twist retrieve. I had rigged him up with two flies from his personal box; a #14 Partridge and Yellow in hand position, and a #12 Royal Coachman on the point, both tied on 3x tippet. He got a couple hits, and then after about a half hour, he hooked a trout. It turned out to be a decent brown, and the fish aggressively had taken the Royal Coachman. That made our day.

Getting back to the brook fin wet flies, there are six historic trout fin wet fly patterns that I am aware of; The Bergman Fontinalis, Fontinalis Fin, Brook Fin, Trout Fin, Brookie Fin, and Armstrong Fontinalis. I listed them in the order in which I personally learned of each pattern. Somewhere here in my blog archives there is an article dealing with those patterns. Three of these flies, the Bergman Fontinalis, Fontinalis Fin, and Armstrong Fontinalis were all created by Michigan angler and fly tier, Phil Armstrong. The Brook Fin was published in H. J. Noll’s Guide to Trout Flies; the Brookie Fin debuted in Helen Shaw’s, Flies for Fish and Fishermen: The Wet Flies, 1989; and the Trout Fin was presented in Ray Bergman’s final book, With Fly, Plug, and Bait, 1947, sent to him by fly tier Bert Quimby, of South Windham, Maine, as being a favored brook trout wet fly pattern for fishing in Maine. It does not list who created that fly, but there is a strong possibility it was originated by Quimby. The Armstrong Fontinalis was the last of these patterns that I learned about, a rather johnny-come-lately fly for me, around 2006. It was published in the book by William Blades, Fishing Flies and Fly Tying, 1951.

I have fished several of these patterns and caught trout and land-locked salmon on them in Maine, and also in a lake right here in Pennsylvania. As an aside, the Parmacheene Belle, according to originator Henry P. Wells’ writings, the brook trout fin was the concept for his fly design. I have always disagreed with that a bit, because there is no orange in his pattern, and that fly has a yellow body, there’s no yellow in a brook trout fin. Nevertheless, that pattern, the Kineo, and perhaps the King of the Woods could be considered as possible brook trout fin wet flies. Here is a photo of the Bergman Fontinalis:

Bergman Fontinalis -

Bergman Fontinalis – #4 Mustad 3399 wet fly hook. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Bergman Fontinalis

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 #100 Black

Hook: Standard wet fly hook, sizes #2 to #10

Tail: White, natural dark gray, married to and topping slightly wider section of orange, duck or goose quill may be used, in two sections (left and right side)

Body: Alternate ribs of dark gray and orange wool

Hackle: Dark gray

Wing: White, dark gray, married to and topping wider section of orange

Head: Black

I used goose wing quill sections to make the tail and wing on this fly. Two barbs each of the white and gray for the tail; three barbs of orange. In the wing, I used three barbs each of white and gray. The natural dark gray quill sections are best obtained from Canada goose feathers. The hackle was tied as a throat, wound collar style, from the tip end of a gray schlappen feather. The ends of schlappen feathers make great wet fly hackles in larger hook sizes; the stems are very soft, supple, and very small in diameter, so they wrap nicely, and build no bulk at the tie-in point of the wing. The barb density is low so I generally make five to six wraps when using schlappen in this fashion.

The Bergman Fontinalis was obviously created to honor Ray Bergman. At the time Trout was published in 1938, Bergman was the preeminent angling author in the country, having served as angling editor of Outdoor Life magazine since 1934. It was a position he held for thirty-four years.

If you are looking for some enjoyable tying with a bit of a challenge, or want to experiment fishing with some new fly patterns, give the Bergman Fontinalis a try.

Golden Doctor – Classic Wet Fly

The first time I ever saw or heard of the Golden Doctor wet fly was in Trout, 1938, by Ray Bergman. Along with the Silver Doctor it was an attractor pattern, and like the recently posted Fletcher wet fly, it has a three-color married tail. Between that fancy tail and the red and blue goose shoulder “splits” over the gray mallard wing, the Golden Doctor is another beautiful, yet little known classic wet fly. I recently discovered in doing research for my upcoming book, Favorite Fishing Flies – 1892, that the Golden Doctor is an older pattern than I previously realized. Reading through Favorite Flies and Their Histories, 1892, by Mary Orvis Marbury, I found some text where Mary mentions the Golden Doctor, so that means it dates at least to the early 1890’s. My guess is that the pattern is even older than that. I have always liked the Golden Doctor, it is another very beautiful wet fly. The color combinations of materials, the claret hackle and the red head, all make for a dashing pattern. Here is a photo and recipe for the Golden Doctor:

Golden Doctor wet fly -

Golden Doctor wet fly – dressed on a Mustad #4 – 3906 standard wet fly hook. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Golden Doctor

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 #56 Red

Tail: Red, yellow, green – married

Body: Flat gold tinsel

Hackle: Claret

Wing: Gray mallard flank, with splits of red and blue goose shoulder

Head: Red

I used two full mallard flank feathers, paired, that is, a left and a right, and cut opposing sections from each feather, then I mounted the slips with the tip down, the wing curving downward in the traditional 19th century style. The claret hackle was wound from the tip of a schlappen feather, several turns. These feathers make great collar hackles, because the stems are so fine and flexible.

This is yet another pattern I confess to having never fished, but how could you not? Just look at it, the colors and form are perfect for brook trout and land-locked salmon.

Fletcher – Classic Wet Fly

One of the little-known wet fly patterns from Trout, by Ray Bergman, is the Fletcher. It is not a particularly complicated pattern to tie, except for step two: the tail. It has a married tail consisting of three components. This element gives the Fletcher a special attractiveness and eye-appeal. I admit to never fishing the Fletcher, but I have tied a good number of them over the last fifteen years. I think that is something I should rectify – fish this fly. I’m sure it would take trout and land-locked salmon.

This fly is one of six that is part of an order for a customer in Alberta, Canada. He has ordered five dozen wet flies for fishing, and six wet fly patterns, tied on #4 hooks, mounted, boxed, and signed for his collection. The Fletcher is the second pattern in this series of six, the Parmacheene Belle from the other day was the first pattern in this six-pack. I also intend to post the photos of the fishing flies on this order.

Here’s the photo of the Fletcher:

Fletcher wet fly -

Fletcher wet fly – dressed on a Mustad #4 – 3906 standard wet fly hook. Tied and photogrpahed by Don Bastian.

Fletcher

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 #100 Black

Hook: Standard wet fly hook, #2 to #10

Tag: Flat silver tinsel

Tail: Red, yellow, and guinea fowl – married

Hackle: Grizzly tied palmer

Body: Black floss

Wing: Brown mottled turkey

The recipe in Bergman’s Trout calls for a gray hackle, tied palmer, but study of the color plate, recognizing artist Dr. Edgar Burke’s attention to detail, and the fact all the flies for the color plates in Trout were painted from actual samples, the hackle on the plate image is clearly painted as grizzly. I married the tail with duck wing quill and guinea fowl wing quill. Wet flies with a palmer hackle have plenty of action in the water. I need to tie some of these to fish with.

Parmacheene Belle

The Parmacheene Belle is arguably the most famous and most-well-known of all the married wing brook trout flies. It was created by Henry P. Wells in 1876. He named it after Parmacheene Lake in the Rangeley Region of Maine. He fished it in that area and took a number of large brook trout on it. The Parmacheene Belle was first published in Fishing With the Fly, 1883, coauthored by Charles F. Orvis and Albert Nelson Cheney. It was not shown among the lithographed color plates of the Lake Flies and Trout Flies in that book, but there is a chapter written by Mr. Wells titled, Fly Fishing for Trout in the Rangeley Region. Favorite Flies and Their Histories, 1892, by Mary Orvis Marbury, contains letters from a number of the correspondents who named the Parmacheene Belle among their favorite trout flies.

Over the years, different fly dressers, different fly companies, and different authors presented different versions of the Parmacheene Belle. This version here is identical to Mr. Wells’s specifications that he presented in his chapter of Fishing With the Fly, save for the fact that on the body, I used yellow rabbit dubbing instead of yellow mohair as called for by him in the correct dressing.

Favorite Flies and Their Histories presents a different version of the Parmacheene Belle, in that the wing of the Orvis pattern is not “white striped with scarlet” as specified by Mr. Wells, but rather is half-and-half red and white. The color plate in the Marbury book is also unclear as to the hackle. J. Edson Leonard’s 1950 book, Flies, contains three errors or differences, if you prefer “fly pattern political correctness,” in the dressing for the Parmacheene Belle. His mistakes on that pattern possibly came from him trying to analyze the image of the plate fly in Marbury’s book, which can be an effort in futility. You’ll see the correct dressing for the Parmacheene Belle listed below the photo of my rendition as presented by the originator of the fly, Mr. Henry P. Wells. A friend commented recently about fly patterns on another forum, that any dressing or pattern recipe as presented by the originator should be the “correct one.” Indeed.

Leonard lists the following errors / variations on the Parmacheene Belle: “Hackle – scarlet; Body – yellow floss, palmer yellow hackle.” I believe Leonard misinterpreted the artist’s rendition of the mohair body, which in order to appear scraggly, appears as fibers protruding from between the tinsel ribbing. I have a photo of the original plate fly, and the body is yellow mohair, there is no palmered body hackle. I also posted a while back, the Parmacheene Belle from the 1893 Orvis display at the American Museum of Fly Fishing. I decided to edit this post and ad that photo here as well:

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

Parmacheene Belle from the 1893 Orvis Display at the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vermont. The hook size is large, as a Lake Fly, about a number 1 or perhaps even a 1/0. I checked my photo of the actual book plate fly, there is definitely a tinsel tag on that fly, though it is tarnished. Note the spelling, that is correct, as also written on the road signs in that area of Maine. Note the reverse-tied wing; the folded butt ends of the quill sections are visible in front of the few thread wraps that lock the wing back into position.

Of course, to reiterate, as I noted above, different companies, authors, and fly tiers have modified this dressing, and of course, not intentionally over the one-hundred thirty-six years since its creation. I’m just glad that since I first tied the Parmacheene Belle in 1974, that I finally got it right.

Parmacheene Belle -

Parmacheene Belle – dressed by Don Bastian on Mustad #3906 size #4 wet fly hook, according to the recipe by the originator, Henry P. Wells. His article in Fishing With the Fly, 1883,  states that the Parmacheene Belle was created “some seven years ago.”

Parmacheene Belle

Hook: Standard wet fly hook, #2 to #10

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 #1 White for body, #100 Black for head

Tag: Flat silver tinsel

Tail: Scarlet and white, married (I personally prefer the scarlet on top)

Butt: Peacock herl

Ribbing: Flat silver tinsel

Body: Yellow mohair

Hackle: “White fronted by scarlet” per Mr. Henry Wells

Wing: White striped with scarlet, married

Head: Black

The correct pronunciation of this name, according to the original Abenaki Indian language, has four syllables: “Par-ma-CHEE-nee.” Here is the written account of the recipe by the originator of the pattern:

H. P. Wells’s description of the Parmacheene Belle, Fishing With the Fly, from his chapter titled Fly-Fishing in the Rangeley Region, p. 90.

“This fly somewhat resembles the ‘No Name,’ figured as No. 15 of Lake Flies in this book. As I tie it, the tail is two strands of white and two of scarlet; the body of yellow mohair, with silver tinsel; the hackle double; first white, with a scarlet hackle wound over this – capping the former so to speak; the wing white, striped with scarlet. By scarlet the color of the red ibis is to be understood.”

He does not mention the silver tinsel tag, yet the Orvis pattern has that component, and I like that addition as well, so it included it on my dressing.

As noted above I used yellow rabbit dubbing for the body since I don’t have any yellow mohair. This fly was initially created as a Lake Fly, which was a designated category of large trout flies, sometimes with added components to dress them up a bit more, that were intended for use in the remote and wilderness locations of Canada, the Adirondacks, and parts of Maine for the historically larger fish that used to be abundant in those locales. Henry Wells wrote in his article: “…indeed – hooks as large as numbers 1, 2, and 5…are at times not at all amiss.”

Too bad we can’t go back in time for a fishing trip!

Black Witch – Unknown Austin S. Hogan Original Pattern

Last winter, around February I suppose, a friend from Maine, Lance Allaire, sent me a photo of an unknown streamer fly tied by Austin Hogan. Lance asked me if I knew the pattern, but I did not. In fact I’d never seen it before. I checked several sources but came up empty-handed. He sent it to me thinking I may be able to help. The long story made short is this: I finally thought that Mike Martinek, Jr., of Stoneham, Massachusetts, would be the best person to ask the question of the origin of this unknown streamer. Mike was mentored by Austin Hogan in the late 1960’s, and Mike knows more about Carrie Stevens and Austin Hogan, and many other streamer tiers, both living and dead, of the New England states than probably anyone else alive. Mike thought the pattern was called the Black Witch. I came up with nothing else in a name search, except for some fly pattern of that name in England that is much newer in origin than 1973, as this fly is dated. So I give credibility to Hogan’s Black Witch.

I wanted to tie this fly, and in asking Lance via e-mail one day about the dressing of this pattern, since from the photo he sent me I could not ascertain the presence or content of tail, tag, body, and ribbing, if in fact all these components were present on the fly. I requested if he could check the fly out for me, but Lance did something even better. “How about I send the fly to you?” Lance asked me in his e-mail reply.

“Perfect!” I replied. So I finally got around to tying the pattern a few weeks back, and today I photographed the Black Witch, both Austin’s fly and mine as well, separately and together. Here is the Black Witch:

Black Witch streamer fly -

Black Witch streamer fly – originated and tied by Austin S. Hogan, formerly of Fultonville, New York. The hook is a #6 – Mustad 94720 8x long streamer. The dark stain is where scotch tape was used over the bend of the hook to secure the fly in place. The adhesive of course, degraded over time. Austin’s original signature and date can be seen. The date is 1973, forty years ago.

Black Witch streamers -

Black Witch streamers – above by Austin S. Hogan, originator, and Don Bastian. My streamer is on a Mustad size #4 – 94720 8x long. In tying my first replica of Hogan’s pattern, I wanted to use the same manufacture of hook as his original.

Black Witch tied by Don Bastian, on Mustad #4 - 94720 8x long.

Black Witch tied by Don Bastian, on Mustad #4 – 94720 8x long.

Black Witch

Hook: Standard streamer hook, 6x to 8x long, sizes #2 to #8

Thread: Danville 6/0 Flymaster #100 Black

Body: Flat silver tinsel

Underbelly: Four to six strands of peacock herl, then white bucktail

Throat: Orange hackle fibers

Wing: Four white hackles

Shoulders: Lemon wood duck flank featheras

Cheeks: Jungle cock

Head: Black

I assembled this fly in authentic Rangeley style, cementing the hackles, shoulder, and cheeks together, and I also layered the throat in sections, starting well behind the head as Carrie Stevens did. It was Austin S. Hogan who first deconstructed some of Carrie Stevens flies to see how they were made. He made extensive notes and diagrams of Mrs. Stevens’ methods. Hogan was the first curator of the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vermont. Much of Hogan’s personal collection of fly fishing memorabilia is stored there.

Black Witch tied by Don Bastian.

Black Witch tied by Don Bastian.

Black Witch - tied by Don Bastian.

Black Witch – tied by Don Bastian.

Head, shoulder, and cheek macro image of Black Witch, tied by Don Bastian. I used clearPro Lak cement, several coats, and a final coat of black Pro Lak.

Head, shoulder, and cheek macro image of Black Witch, tied by Don Bastian. I used several coats of clear Pro Lak cement and a final coat of black Pro Lak.

The Black Witch is similar to another of Hogan’s patterns, the Grizzly Prince, except that pattern has an orange tail, and grizzly hackles over the white, but the lower barbs of the grizzly hackles are stripped off on that pattern. That was one of Hogans rather unique techniques, as also expressed on his Black and White Streamer. See Joseph D.  Bates, Jr., book, Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing. Hogan created about a dozen original streamer patterns. They are all listed in the 1996 edition of Bates book.

Pale Morning Dun Patterns

As a companion Four-pack Set to my Sulphur Dun Ephemerella invaria patterns on http://www.myflies.com/ I am also offering the same series of mayfly dun pattern styles for the Pale Morning Dun, which is also in the same Ephemerella genus as the sulphurs, the PMD species being named excrucians.

Since I have personally only ever encountered one PMD hatch, I took some information from the site Troutnut.com – http://www.troutnut.com/hatch/459/Mayfly-Ephemerella-excrucians-Pale-Morning-Dun and I would like to express my thanks for the helpful information presented there. Troutnut has a lot of good, no nonsense aquatic insect information. I recommend visiting that site.

Since the Pale Morning Dun is one of the most widely-ranging and long-lasting hatches of its geographical distribution, I considered the marketing aspect of my fly tying livelihood and decided to offer the PMD in a series of pattern styles as I did for the widely distributed sulphur mayflies of the east and mid-west.

The “PMD’s” are a very eagerly anticipated hatch on many streams, particularly in the mid-west and western US. These mayflies occur with variations in color and size depending on the location, from a #14 to a #18. This offering of four different dry fly pattern types and hook sizes is intended to increase the anglers chances of success when fishing a PMD hatch. Trout can be selective to pattern types, particularly on flat water, so it is beneficial to the angler to be prepared with more than one style and size of dun pattern when fishing this hatch. This proven collection of Pale Morning Dun patterns helps solve the difficulties of fishing PMD drys to finicky trout. All four dun patterns are tied with split tails.

Pale Morning Dun dun patterns, left to right:

Pale Morning Dun dun patterns, left to right: Parachute Dun, Thorax Dun, Comparadun, Quill-body Comparadun, hook sizes here are #14. All flies tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

The PMD Comparadun is a no-hackle pattern that rides low, yet stays  on the surface film. The light natural color deer hair wing is highly imitative and easy to see, and the split tails stabilize the pattern and offer added mayfly realism. Comparaduns land right-side up on nearly every cast. They are an excellent pattern choice for smooth water and moderate riffle currents. This pattern has a slim, dubbed abdomen with a thread ribbing and a more robust thorax, providing a natural imitative mayfly silhouette for increased realism. This design factor helps trigger confident takes from trout.

PMD Comparadun

Hook: Standard dry fly hook, #14 – #18

Thread: Danville Flymaster Light Olive #61

Wing: Natural light deer hair

Tails: Light dun Microfibetts six fibers split 3/3

Abdomen: Light olive rabbit dubbing, abdomen reverse-ribbed with tying thread

Thorax: Light olive rabbit dubbing, built up larger than the abdomen to present a natural mayfly silhouette

Head: Light olive

PMD Comparadun

Pale Morning Dun Comparadun

The PMD Quill-body Comparadun is a personal pattern design variation that has a more realistic body silhouette with a slim, waxy-smooth abdomen that contrasts with the more robust fur-dubbed thorax. The abdomen is made from a synthetic quill material that is highly translucent, and it also floats, thereby adding increased flotation to this pattern. This shade of light olive on the abdomen very closely imitates the natural color of the PMD’s.

PMD Quill-body Comparadun

Hook: Standard dry fly hook, #14 – #18

Thread: Danville Flymaster Light Olive #61

Wing: Natural light deer hair

Tails: Light dun Microfibetts six fibers split 3/3

Abdomen: White Sexi-Floss (aka Flexi-Floss, Dyna Floss, Super Floss, etc.) Winding the white Sexi-Floss over the light olive thread creates a very translucent abdomen. The Sexi-floss is tied in at the thorax. (See my other posts on this topic, use the search tab). The translucent nature of this material allows the thread color to predominate. This stuff is the best synthetic quill substitute available. And, it floats! This increases the pattern’s buoyancy.

Thorax: Light olive rabbit dubbing, built up larger than the abdomen to present a natural mayfly silhouette

Head: Light olive

PMD Quill-body Comparadun

PMD Quill-body Comparadun.

The PMD Parachute Dun is made with the same abdomen of synthetic quill material as the Quill-body Comparadun, and has a dubbed thorax, but it has a poly-post wing and a parachute hackle. The advantage of parachute duns provides a highly-visible, low-floating, imitative design. It is generally considered a better dry fly pattern for fishing riffles, runs, and typically rougher pocket water than the no-hackle Comparadun.

PMD Parachute Dun

Hook: Standard dry fly hook, #14 – #18

Thread: Danville Flymaster Light Olive #61

Wing: Light dun polypropylene

Tails: Light dun Microfibetts six fibers split 3/3

Abdomen: White Sexi-Floss (aka Flexi-Floss, Dyna Floss, Super Floss, etc.)

Hackle: Light dun or ginger – I anchor the butt of the hackle stem to the base of the wing post

Thorax: Light olive rabbit dubbing, built up larger than the abdomen to present a natural mayfly silhouette

Head: Light olive

PMD ParachuteDun

PMD ParachuteDun

The PMD Thorax Dun offers yet another pattern variation that helps fool trout. The wing is placed a little farther from the hook eye than the Parachute Dun, and the hackle is wound conventionally, but clipped on the bottom. Like all the patterns in this set, the Pale Morning Dun Thorax Dun features a split tail with the synthetic, translucent quill abdomen and a fur-dubbed thorax. Like each pattern in this collection, the Thorax Dun offers a different silhouette on the surface. Being prepared with multiple fly pattern designs for any mayfly hatch is an asset to the angler.

PMD Thorax Dun

Hook: Standard dry fly hook, #14 – #18

Thread: Danville Flymaster Light Olive #61

Wing: Light dun polypropylene

Tails: Light dun Microfibetts six fibers split 3/3

Abdomen: White Sexi-Floss (aka Flexi-Floss, Dyna Floss, Super Floss, etc.)

Hackle: Light dun or ginger, clipped flat on bottom

Thorax: Light olive rabbit dubbing, built up larger than the abdomen to present a natural mayfly silhouette

Head: Light olive

PMD Thorax Dun

PMD Thorax Dun

PMD Four-pack Selection - Boxed Set.

PMD Four-pack Selection – Boxed Set. Set includes three each of the four patterns: PMD Comparadun, PMD Quill-body Comparadun, PMD Parachute Dun, and PMD Thorax Dun and can be ordered in size #14, #16, or #18 (single hook size per set).

Set of Four – These four PMD patterns are also being offered together in an attractive boxed set. The set is identified with a printed label, a signature card, the flies are mounted on foam strips, and they are beautifully packaged in a clear plastic case. This attention to detail and quality of the boxed set makes this a tasteful gift.

What it imitates: Ephemerella excrucians mayfly sub-imago, Pale Morning Dun (PMD)

When to fish it: The PMD is an ubiquitous mayfly, very abundant throughout the west, and there is a wide range of dates for their emergence. It is often best to consult local sources for hatching information. Despite their name, they often hatch in the afternoon and evening depending on conditions and locale.

Where to fish it:  Pale Morning Duns inhabit most water types, tailwaters, spring creeks, freestone streams, rivers, and some ponds and lakes, except warm water and infertile high country lakes.

How to fish it:  PMD patterns can be fished on 5x to 7x tippet, depending on water type. This hatch is prolonged, and on heavily-fished waters, trout can become drift-shy, requiring very precise presentation to fool them into taking your fly. Accurate casting and drag-free drifts are essential for success. On smooth water long leaders of 12 – 14 feet are necessary. Two or more pattern variations of the PMD can increase your chances for a good day on the water.

To place an order for the duns or the set visit: http://www.myflies.com/Pale-Morning-Duns-Four-Pack-Selection-P830.aspx

Split Ibis Wet Fly

Here is another old wet fly pattern that historically was a part of our fly fishing heritage in the form of the traditional Lake Flies and smaller sizes of trout flies. I present the Split Ibis – both my tied version from the recipes of Ray Bergman’s Trout, 1938, and also another antique fly from the 1893 Orvis Display at the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester,Vermont.

The Bergman recipe for the wing reads, “white, scarlet, white, scarlet, married,” while visual inspection of the Orvis pattern starts with the scarlet on top. Normally in written married wing recipes, the order of components is written from the top down.

Here’s my version:

Split Ibis wet fly, tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Split Ibis wet fly, tied and photographed by Don Bastian. Note the tail of golden pheasant tippet fibers, in comparison to the married tail on the Orvis version. The hook is a Mustad vintage 3399 Sproat Bend.

Split Ibis:

Hook: Standard wet fly hook #1 to #10

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 #100 Black

Tail: Golden pheasant tippet

Ribbing: Oval silver tinsel – addition of ribbing is my personal variation to reinforce the body and provide more flash

Body: Flat silver tinsel

Hackle: Brown

Wing: White, scarlet, white, scarlet – married

Head: Black

I apply four or five coats of head cement, finishing off with black Pro Lak on most of my wet flies and streamers.

The Split Ibis is included among the Lake Fly pattern in Mary Orvis Marbury’s book, Favorite Flies and Their Histories, 1892. It is pattern number 78. Here is my photo of the Split Ibis from the 1893 Orvis Display.

Split Ibis from the 1893 Orvis fly display.

Split Ibis Lake Fly from the 1893 Orvis fly display. The hook is approximately a No. 1 or 1/0. Note the body of oval silver tinsel, and the yellow part of the married tail is severely faded.

Split Ibis – Orvis Version

Tag: Flat gold tinsel – not visible on this pattern, but it can be seen on the Plate Fly image, plus I have my photo of the original plate fly; there is a tag of flat gold tinsel

Tail: Scarlet and yellow, married

Body: Oval silver tinsel

Hackle: Brown

Wing: Scarlet, white, scarlet, white – married

Historically the Split Ibis was a favorite Lake Fly pattern, successfully used for native brook trout and landlocked salmon. My niece, Emily, tied this pattern and has caught brook trout and salmon with it in Maine’s Moose and Roach Rivers.

Fitz-Maurice Lake Fly

This pattern as represented in Trout by Ray Bergman is a little different than the old, original 19th century version I discovered on the 1893 Orvis Display Plates at the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vermont. Bergman’s book obviously includes the Fitzmaurice as a trout pattern, while as represented in size on the Orvis display, it could be a either a Lake Fly, intended for brook trout and landlocked salmon, or a Bass Fly, or perhaps both.

Here is the version replicated from the recipe of Trout:

Fitzmaurice wet fly, recipe from Trout by Ray Bergman.

Fitzmaurice wet fly, recipe from Trout by Ray Bergman.

Fitzmaurice, Trout version:

Tag: Oval gold tinsel – the addition of the tinsel tag is mine, note the flat gold tinsel tag on the Orvis version

Tail: Peacock sword fibers

Butt: Black chenille

Body: Red chenille

Wing: Bronze mallard

Hackle: Yellow

Head: Black

Following is my photo of the Fitz-Maurice from the 1893 Orvis Display:

Fitz-Maurice

Fitz-Maurice from 1893 Orvis Display, hook size is approximately a #1/0. The Lake Flies were traditionally tied in sizes this large, as were the Bass Flies.

Fitz-Maurice – Orvis Dressing:

Tag: Flat gold tinsel

Tail: Peacock sword fibers

Body: Rear 1/2 red chenille, front 1/2 black chenille

Hackle: Golden yellow, wound full over front 1/5 of hook shank

Wing: Gray mallard, two whole feathers; this could be classed as a spoon wing. The stems were tied reverse-wing.

This pattern has a gut loop eye, often referred to back in the day as a snood. The chenille is very dense, most likely a fine grade of silk chenille. The Fitz-Maurice is not listed in Mary Orvis Marbury’s Favorite Flies and Their Histories, 1892, but as you can see it is on the 1893 Orvis Display, and it will be among more than 200 additional 19th century fly patterns, beyond the 291 in Marbury’s book, that will be listed by name with the accurate recipe, determined by visual inspection of actual flies, and from study of my collection of fly photos, in my upcoming book in progress, Favorite Fishing Flies – 1892. The additional fly patterns from the 1893 display include flies in all categories of Marbury’s book: Hackles, Lake Flies, Trout Flies, Salmon Flies, and Bass Flies.

Alexandra Wet Fly

The Al4exandra Wet Fly - from the 1893 Orvis Display

The Alexandra Lake Fly – from the 1893 Orvis Display in the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vermont. This fly is 120 years old. The hook size is approximately a 1/0. Note the whole light brown mottled turkey quill wing under the peacock sword. This previously unknown full quill wing is just one tidbit of actual fly pattern component discovery that I have unearthed during my research for my book, Favorite Fishing Flies – 1892. The turkey wing on the Alexandra has seemingly been missed from most, if not all fly pattern sources where this pattern was published for over one-hundred years.

Alexandra

Tag: Flat gold tinsel and red floss

Tail: Peacock sword fibers

Ribbing: Oval silver tinsel

Body: Flat silver tinsel

Hackle: Chinchilla (grizzly that is mostly white), or grizzly

Wing: Light brown mottled turkey with peacock sword topping and red splits

Head: Red or black

The Alexandra is pattern number thirty-six of the Lake Flies in Mary Orvis Marbury’s 1892 book, Favorite Flies and Their Histories.

J. Edson Leonard’s Recipe for the Alexandra:

Tag: Flat gold tinsel * (see footnote)

Tail: Peacock sword fibers

Tip: Flat gold tinsel * (see footnote)

Ribbing: silver

Body: Gray floss

Hackle: Gray dun or badger

Wing: Peacock sword, red splits

* J. Edson Leonard in his 1950 book, Flies, lists the tip as a “red floss tip, gold tag,” while this is his own definition of a tip: “A tip is any winding such as floss or tinsel located immediately behind the body and may or may not be accompanied by a tag, which is always under the tail fibers, whereas the tip always encircles the tail fibers. Alternately, Leonard defines a tag as: The tag is a narrow winding of silk, tinsel or fur located at the rear of the body and under the tail fibers.” He elaborates further: “…not synonymous with “tip” which, although disputed by some authorities, is always in front of the tag winding and immediately behind the body.”

Leonard’s own line drawing, Figure 7, p. 37 in Flies, shows a contradictory labeling of “tip” and “tag.” The fly on Figure 7 shows a two-part tag and no tip, even though the front floss portion of the tag is labeled as the “tip.” I am going to go with his written definition, as it makes more sense, even though this is one of the rare occasions that I choose to place more trust in what I read rather than what I can see. I love J. Edson Leonard’s book, Flies, don’t get me wrong on that. It is very detailed and covers a ton of material. Yet there are mistakes in his fly pattern recipes taken from Mary Orvis Marbury’s book plates, that I have discovered according my visual inspection and study of the actual flies that were used for the painted color plates in Marbury’s Favorite Flies.

I listed the tag, tip, and tail on Leonard’s recipe according to his written definition of the material placement, though this contradicts further with the Marbury / Orvis published pattern, from which Leonard reputedly took his recipe for the Alexandra.

According to Mary Orvis Marbury’s writing in Favorite Flies and Their Histories; the Alexandra “was originally named by General Gerald Goodlake ‘Lady of the Lake,’ but this name was afterwards abandoned in favor of Alexandra.” The Alexandra takes its name from Princess Alexandra of Great Britain. Marbury considered that the Alexandra “may not properly be called an artificial fly, being intended as a vague imitation of a minnow, and was originally recommended to be cast and played minnow fashion just below the surface of the water.”

“The pattern was invented by Doctor Hobbs a number of years ago, and it came into great favor with English fishermen; indeed, it was believed to be so taking that its use was forbidden on some streams. The favorite method was to allow the line to run with the current, and then draw it back up stream by short, sudden jerks that opened and closed the hackles, giving a glimpse of the bright, silvery body.” (Note Leonard’s body of gray floss).

Marbury also wrote: The Alexandra is “preferred on large hooks, and is used for trout in deep, dark waters, or for black bass, for either of which it is frequently effective, owing probably to its likeness, when being drawn rapidly through the water, to a tiny minnow.”

My family and friends have found the Alexandra to be a particularly effective pattern for brook trout and landlocked salmon in Maine. My niece Emily also had success one year right over the hill from my home on Pennsylvania’s Lycoming Creek, trailing an Alexandra behind a Wooly Bugger. On that Memorial Day afternoon in 2006, Emily landed seventeen trout, and just three fish took the bugger. The remaining thirteen trout were taken on the Alexandra, Yellow Sally, and Parmacheene Belle. Guess nobody told those browns and rainbows she caught that they weren’t supposed to eat classic brook trout flies.

This writing is a sampling of the fly pattern information that my research has turned up in my work on writing my first book, Favorite Fishing Flies – 1892. The book is in the final phase of completion.