Ontario In March – Fly Tying Classes and Demos

Everything is official now. I am heading to Ontario on Thursday, March 12, and presenting a fly tying class that evening at Grand River Outfitting and Fly Shop in Fergus from 6 – 9 PM. Here is the information posted on the event on the Grand River Outfitting and Fly Shop website:

www.http://ontarioflyfishing.ca/event/gro-presents-don-bastian-grand-river-caddis-patterns/

The class will feature all of my original caddis patterns: The Hatching Caddis Adult, Hatching Caddis Pupa, Floating Caddis / Mayfly Emerger, Floating Caddis Pupa, plus two more proven and deadly caddis larva patterns. These flies, if you have them in your box, will certify your readiness for most any caddis hatch / situation you encounter. Just have a range of sizes and colors… 😉  And here is a link to the shop: www.http://ontarioflyfishing.ca/

Mary and I will be meeting part-time shop employee, guide, instructor, and good friend, John Hoffmann for a relaxing afternoon and dinner before the class.

Friday evening, March 13, I am presenting a fly tying class at First Cast Fly Shop in Guelph, from 6 to 9:30 PM.

Here is a link to the event at First Cast:  http://www.thefirstcast.ca/event/don-bastian/

Rates and reservation information is now posted for both shop classes. The Niagara Region Flytyers Event has a few remaining tickets for sale to the public, at $20 each.

Saturday March 14, I am presenting a fly tying demo in St. Catherines, for the Niagara Region Flytyers Club, to be video -played on a TV screen, time of this demo is from 11 AM to 4 PM. There will be a couple breaks in this five-hour session. One highlight of the classes and demo will be the tying of Bastian’s Floating Caddis / Mayfly Emerger. Specific information about the patterns in these sessions can be obtained from the fly shops. As yet I am not certain that the event in St. Catherines is open to the public.

Bastian's Floating Caddis Emerger.

Bastian’s Floating Caddis Emerger. This pattern and its variations will be part of these sessions. This fly is deadly. One of my customers posted on the Orvis site, “it should be illegal.” 😉

During and after these classes, Mary and I will be hanging out as the guest of my close friend Rick Whorwood, who resides in Stoney Creek, Ontario, a suburb of Hamilton. We have been close friends for twenty-five years. Rick is a fellow musician of sorts; he has “some guitars” and recently bought a vintage 1967-ish Rogers Drum set, champagne sparkle pearl. He started taking drum lessons recently and while he is learning fast – he used to drum back in his teenaged years – he wants me to show him some of my chops. 😉 Mary plays guitar as well, and she’s a heck of a good singer, so I think the two of them might be doing a little jamming. Maybe even the three of us…

My vintage 1975 English-made Premier Powerhouse 2500 drum set...prior to the start of a local gig.

My vintage 1975 English-made Premier Powerhouse 2500 drum set…prior to the start of a local gig.

This is going to be a great trip! Anyone interested in these classes, please feel free to let me know in the comment section.

Status Report and Calendar of Events

This short post is an announcement of several things. First, this is post no. 400, since March of 2010 when I started this blog. I presently have 868 followers. (now up to 895 – 2-19-2015). A good many of them signed on in the last ten days when there was some drama aka “lively discussion” here. That has been cleaned up since then, and for good reason. To that, I will only say, sometimes good guys do win. 😉

Secondly, during this time, I had my highest ever number of visits, 894 on January 29th. And I received a lot of support, nearly 100% in fact, from people who commented, people who did not comment but e-mailed me, and / or voiced their support to me in person at the Somerset, New Jersey, Fly Fishing Show.

I have some events coming up. Here is my planned itinerary for the next few months:

Thursday March 12: Fly Tying Class at Grand River Outfitting and Fly Shop in Fergus, Ontario, 6 – 9 PM.

Friday March 13: Fly Tying Class at First Cast Fly Shop In Guelph, Ontario, 6 – 9:30 PM.

Saturday March 14: 5-hour fly tying demo, with camera and large screen at The Niagara Region Flytyers Club in St. Catherine’s, Ontario. 11 – 4 PM. Some tickets are available to the general public, at $20.

I will not be at the Lancaster Fly Fishing Show; I was thinking about it, but the band got booked at a Mardi-Gras event in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, so I’m staying in town to have fun.

Monday April 6: Federation of Flyfishers Club, fly tying demo and program on Soft-hackle Wet Flies. Big Flats, New York.

Saturday April 11: Catskill Fly Tyers Guild Annual Fly Tyers Rendezvous, at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum, Livingston Manor, New York. Here is the link to “Events” on their page:

http://catskillflytyersguild.org/events.html

Monday May 11: On-the-Fly, Spruce Creek, Pennsylvania. An all-day event.

https://donbastianwetflies.com/2013/05/12/on-the-fly-spruce-creek-pennsylvania/

There is another event in the planning stages that will be in Maine. I have been invited to participate in this. It will be the last weekend in June in the Rangeley Region. I am honored to be invited; that is all I can say about it for now. As soon as I receive information it will be posted here.

When I get details on the classes in Canada I will post them.

Life indeed moves on. I am excited about this 400th post. It is short, but continuing on, I shall try to make future posts worthwhile, as in entertaining, informative, helpful, and interesting. When my book, “Favorite Fishing Flies – 1892” on the 1800’s Orvis flies is accepted by a publisher – soon – you will all be the first to know. Thank you everyone for your support! Things have a way of happening as they are supposed to…

Wet Fly and Streamer Classes

There is still space available at two upcoming fly tying classes that I am teaching in Maine in March. The location is Eldredge Brothers Fly Shop, Cape Neddick, Maine. This is near the town of York in southern Maine. The dates are Saturday and Sunday March 15 and 16. Here is the information from Eldredge Brothers Fly Shop Class Announcement:

DON BASTIAN   When it comes to tying classic streamers and wet flies, Don’s name is synonymous with excellence. With the popularity of classic streamers and wet flies on the rise, we feel grateful to have a fly tier of Don’s caliber instructing these classes for us. Don has been tying flies for 50 years, has been a fly tying instructor for the past 29 years and tied commercially for 12 years. He has guided fly fishermen in Pennsylvania for 16 years and he has authored three fly tying DVD’s: Advanced Classic Wet Flies, Traditional Streamers and Bucktails, and Tying Classic Wet Flies. Don was the featured author of Ray Bergman biography in the book Forgotten Flies and has a combined total of approximately 765 flies published in that volume. His flies were regularly published in Art Of Angling Journal 2001 – 2003 and he has been published in Fly Tyer, Fly Fisherman, Mid-Atlantic Fly Fishing Guide, Hatches Magazine, Fly Tyers of the World, Vol. IV, (yet to be published), and Fly Fusion. Don will be instructing two full-day classes.
Many of the techniques and methods taught in this class will be of benefit to you regardless what type of flies you tie.

Classic Wet Flies       This class will focus mostly on the old Maine Lake Fly patterns dating back to the 1800’s. We will tie at least one each; a snelled pattern and one with a gut snood, both on blind eye hooks.

Date: March 15th, 2014 – 9:00am till 4:00pm ~ Full day class

Cost: $75.00 per Student ~ Lunch is included

Classic Streamer Flies      This class will focus mostly on Maine patterns which will include some of Carrie Stevens unique Rangeley Style methods of construction.

Date: March 16th, 2014 – 9:00am till 4:00pm ~ Full day class

Cost: $75.00 per Student ~ Lunch is included

Classes are limited to 13 students ~ Payment in full is required to hold a space in these classes ~ All tying materials (except thread) will be supplied ~ Students need only to bring their vises, tools & thread.

To register or for more information, please call Eldredge Brothers Fly Shop at: 207-363-9269 or 9279;
or Toll Free: 877-427-9345.

Fly Tying Classes – Eldredge Brothers, Cape Neddick, Maine

Hi everyone! Following a very successful class in March of 2013 at Eldredge Brothers Fly Shop in Cape Neddick, Maine, that filled to capacity a couple weeks after being announced, shop manager, Jim Bernstein has invited me back again this year. Two class dates are set:

Saturday, March 15, 2014 and

Sunday March 16, 2014.

The Saturday class topic is classic wet flies and will feature the heritage patterns of 19th century Maine Lake Flies, such as the Belgrade, Rangeley, Richardson, Cupsuptic, Parmacheene Belle, etc. The class will include tying patterns on eyed hooks, which became popular in the mid-1890’s, as well as dressing a fly or two on a classic blind-eye hook using both a gut snood and a snell.

Sunday’s class will focus on classic Maine feather-wing streamers and will include traditional Eastern styles of tying, with a special feature of two Carrie Stevens streamer patterns, presenting her unique Rangeley method of streamer construction, combined with my personal adaptations (for starters, unlike Carrie Stevens, I use a vise). Full details of her methods using information from classic streamer guru, Mike Martinek, Jr., and Austin Hogan’s  notes on his deconstruction of Carrie’s flies will be included.

Here is a link to the class information on the Eldredge Brothers Fly Shop site:

http://eldredgeflyshop.com/seminars

For additional information feel free to contact the shop or me directly at: dwbastian@chilitech.net

Fly Tying Classes

Fly tying classes have been around for some time, but not for a long time. If you have more than a couple decades or half-a-lifetime or most of your life, of fly tying experience, then perhaps you’ve heard stories how fly tying used to be, back in the old days, somewhat of a closely guarded profession, secrets were kept, even though there were a few books written on the subject. Back in the early 1930’s Walt and Winnie Dette, famous Catskill fly tying husband and wife team, asked Ruben Cross, author of Tying American Trout Lures, 1936, to teach them how to tie flies. They offered Rube the tidy sum of $50 in return for lessons, which at that time, considering it was the Great Depression, was more than pocket change. Their request  was met with Rube’s terse reply, “Go to hell.” Undaunted, the Dette’s bought some of Rube’s flies, carefully took them apart, made notes, and taught themselves how to tie flies. The rest of that chapter is history.

Back in 1964 when I started tying flies, my dad showed my brother and I how to get started; a short lesson consisting of dad tying three flies, then giving all his tying tools and materials to Larry and I. We progressed for several years tying and trying, using the instructions in Ray Bergman’s Trout and the brief chapter titled, On Tying Flies, and How to Tie Flies, by E. C. Gregg, 1940. Fly tying lessons were slow to catch on in the late 1960’s and through the ’70’s. Nowadays, many fly shops have in-house demos and lessons and there is a plethora of fly tying videos on the market. And then there is the internet; forums, online how-to articles, and you tube videos of tying hundreds of fly patterns. There are many fly tying “arm-chair experts” out there, some qualified, some, well… Considering the wealth of available fly tying information, still, the best learning source is to take a class with an experienced, professional, accomplished fly tier who knows their work and also has an ability to teach and has appropriate organizational and instructional skills to lead a class.

DVD’s are great, but when I started teaching fly tying lessons twenty-eight years ago, I learned that even “professional” fly tying instructors are not always the best teachers. How did I learn this? I learned it over time from my students, and also from people that stopped by my tables at fly tying shows, where I have presented and demonstrated for over twenty years. Repeated questions on a number of tying topics convinced me that many fly tying instructors take too much for granted in their students, they assume knowledge and / or a level experience that may not be what they believe. My definition of a professional fly tier is one who has several notches in their gun belt. More on those “notches” in a few moments.

Whether one should take a fly tying class or not is a question that perhaps you have pondered. I started tying in 1964, and never actually took a fly tying class until I was working for Cathy and Barry Beck. Barry suggested I sit in on a class being taught by the late, great Jack Gartside.The next step for me was to serve as assistant instructor in a class taught by Barry Beck. Prior to these early 1990’s class sessions with the Beck’s, in 1985 I organized a new format for a beginner’s fly tying class for my local Trout Unlimited Chapter in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. I found out the chapter formerly conducted fly tying classes, but they had not been held after I joined in 1974. I served as class coordinator for these classes, and several chapter members who were also experienced fly tiers participated as teachers and assistants. Extra help can be a good thing and is generally beneficial, but oftentimes, there are some personal preferences and variations in individual fly tying habits that can be passed to the students by well-meaning assistants. Favorite methods of one person are not necessarily those of another. This can also be a good thing, I’m all for presenting multiple methods of skinning the cat, but there is also the possibility that the assistants can inadvertently contradict what the head instructor is teaching, and in the end, this can be confusing to the students. Good organization is key.

I heard a piece of fly tying class news over the past weekend at the International Fly Tying Symposium, which is not uncommon, but what I heard from a former student in a particular fly tying instructor’s recent class made me think that perhaps a bit of advice from a veteran fly tying instructor might be a good thing to pass along, especially if you or anyone you know is considering taking a fly tying class. The particular class report I heard was that in a three-hour session, the students did not even complete one fly. Aside from being a little bit dumbfounded, all I will say about that is: “Something’s wrong with this picture.” I was informed about this because by comparison, last winter I taught a streamer class to that same group, we completed six patterns in seven hours, including a break for lunch. We also dressed two Carrie Stevens streamer patterns using her unique Rangeley style material placements and her methods of streamer fly tying / wing assembly. I held that same class twice with the same rate of progress, twenty students in all. I know for a fact, based on my twenty-eight years of fly tying instruction experience, that I could easily finish two or three streamers with six to twelve students in three hours. So…if one is considering taking a fly tying class, here are my recommendations; referencing the aforementioned “notches” in a potential fly tying instructor’s gun belt:

1) Fly Tying Experience – the more the better. A qualified instructor has more than a few years, I’m talking decades of fly tying experience. If taking advanced classes, one ought not be able to count the potential tying instructor’s years of experience on the fingers of one hand. Intermediate tiers can teach others the basics of beginning and intermediate fly tying. Regardless of that, the best fly tying instructors have twenty, thirty, forty or more years of experience in fly tying no matter what the subject matter.

2) Fly Tying Teaching Experience – like number one, the more the better. A good instructor for teaching advanced fly tying patterns and methods should be one who has taught classes for at least ten years. That said, there are a few fly tiers who have excelled in a particular style of tying in a relatively short period of time. Pat Cohen of New York, a deer hair master with only about five years of tying experience, comes to mind. A good instructor can plan the class itinerary, stick to it, proceed at a comfortable pace, and get the lessons across without leaving any student lingering for lack of understanding the material and methods being presented. The instructor should also be skilled enough to plan for contingency variations, often tailoring specific tying procedures to the students needs or requests.

3) Teaching Ability – differs from teaching experience. Tenure does not necessarily translate to good instruction. A good fly tying instructor knows threads, deniers, and applications, and also should know, for example, the reason and explanation why left-handed fly tiers often have trouble with fraying threads. A good class instructor will be able to have his students learn in a relaxed atmosphere, and be able to answer their questions and help them trouble-shoot any problems they may be having. A good instructor can present each pattern and material usage and tying method and application in a manner that is easily understood by all the students, without skimming over or skipping significant details. This is more common that you might think; much of my personal teaching methods and instruction style is very detail-oriented; the result of fielding questions from fly tiers who have taken other classes and came away, shall we say, less than completely satisfied.

4) Versatility – a good fly tying instructor for advanced classes is one who has pretty much achieved a personal level of mastery of a particular group or groups of fly patterns and tying styles. Catskill Drys for example. If one ties and fishes only drys, then there’s not much point learning how to tie saltwater flies. But the more accomplished a fly tying instructor is, the better teacher they can be. Even though as an instructor I admit willingly to still being on the learning curve, as we all are. A good fly tying instructor knows wet flies, streamers, bucktails, dry flies, saltwater flies, and possibly hairwing salmon flies; these are basically bucktails and wet flies combined; a smidgin of bass bug information and maybe a little deer-hair spinning, and one or more sub-categories within each group. Full-dress salmon flies are a nice notch to have in one’s gun belt, but are not essential to being a good qualified fly tying instructor.

5) Knowledge and Ability – a good fly tying instructor knows how and why things work the way they do, and knows how to explain and teach methods that enable students to learn “how and why,” so the students can progress, learn, and make things work as they should.

6) References – last but not least, a good fly tying instructor will provide references of their past teaching experiences from a number of sources; venues, shops, and locations. References from former students and fly tying clubs should also be readily available. And it goes without saying, these should be good references.

Watch this blog for upcoming class schedules. I’ll be at a location in Massachusetts in February, and Maine in March. Possibly a few more locations. Details to be announced!

Classic Wet Fly – Tying Class

Last March I taught a classic wet fly class at Eldredge Brothers Fly Shop on Rt. 1 in Cape Neddick, Maine. Please check their link on my Fly Shop link list on the right. I hope they will invite me back this year; well, next year, since it would be in 2014. It’s a good possibility they’ll want me to return, since this year’s class booked full with thirteen students in less than two weeks when announced in October. Moreover, people registered on a cancellation list, and then more people were turned away because the waiting list was “a mile long.” I heard all this through eight or nine people who I spoke to at the Marlborough Fly Fishing Show and at the L. L. Bean Spring Fishing Expo, who informed me they wanted to sign up but were too late. It’s gratifying to have affirming interest like that pertaining to one’s avocation.

I have wanted to post a review of that class here on my blog, but like other topics, there is only so much time in a day, and each day seems to slip by faster than the one before. Is that me, or does time really speed up?  I intended to post each individual fly pattern and recipe for interested persons, but I’m having some trouble with my camera. Seems it will not function properly on “TV” mode, aka “Shutter Speed Priority” setting. I was forced to shoot these images on “Auto,” consequently I lost all control over depth-of-field. After previewing the individual images, I decided they are not up to my usual standards, so they won’t be included here, sorry folks. Moreover the mom-and-pop camera shop where I bought my camera has since gone out of business, a victim of “big-box store” competition.

One thing I hope to accomplish with this post was to review my itinerary and maybe have interested persons, fly shops, or organizations consider booking me to teach a class. That’s what I do, in part, to earn my living. So I hope everyone realizes that fact without me seeming to be “too commercial” or “too much like a used car salesman.”

I have also recently started teaching private fly tying lessons here at my home. This can be for a day or two, accommodate one to three persons, and include meals and lodging if desired. Depending on time of year, some fishing can also be included. Topics available are classic dry flies, classic wet flies, 19th century wet flies – including traditional tying styles of snelled and snood wet flies on authentic antique blind-eye hooks, traditional streamers and bucktails, specializing in Carrie Stevens unique Rangeley method of streamer component assembly, and general tying of all-round fishing patterns, nymphs, drys, emergers, and soft-hackles. I have almost fifty years of fly tying experience, and thirty years of teaching fly tying classes. All materials are provided for my private lessons. Please contact me for more information.

The class at Eldredge Brothers originally was to include nine wet fly fly patterns, but with experienced students in attendance, we moved along a bit ahead of schedule. The Coachman was tied to demonstrate a point in response to a student question, and when we finished about forty minutes early, I added the Parmacheene Belle as the final pattern after the student’s unanimous vote.

The list of flies included the teaching of Helen Shaw’s seven different wet fly body components; chenille, dubbing, floss, herl, quill, tinsel, and yarn. A variety of four different wing-mounting methods was included, as well and multiple methods of hackling. The patterns started out with the simplest ones first, gradually progressing in complexity, presenting increasing difficulty, and concluding with the Ibis and White, Armstrong Fontinalis, since everyone loves the Trout Fin fly patterns, and the Parmacheene Belle. You’ll also note on the Reuben Wood that I included a pattern with a gray mallard wing, since that seems to be a frequent question.  In addition to goose and duck quill wings, we also included wings of turkey wing and tail feather sections.

Below is a photo of the flies from the class:

Alder, Brown Turkey,

Starting at top row, left to right: Alder, Brown Turkey, Coachman, Black and Silver, Black Quill, Reuben Wood, Captain, Forsyth, Ibis and White, Armstrong Fontinalis, and Parmachenne Belle. All flies are dressed on #6 hooks, Mustad 3366 straight eye, except for the Coachman, it’s on a #3399 Mustad, and the Parmacheene Belle is on a #4 – 3399 hook. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

The Alder is supposed to have a wing of brown mottled turkey, but I had plenty of gray turkey, so we used that instead, since my objective in tying this pattern, besides this being a herl-bodied fly, it  was more about preparing and mounting the softer turkey wing than about having the exact color. I have mailed these flies off to Jim Bernstein, shop manager at Eldredge Brothers, and I believe they will eventually be published on their web site. These are all good fishing flies, they were historically, and still are today.

Hendrickson – Red Quill – Parachute Dry

As part of a custom dry fly order I’m working on, this is a second pattern installment, one of my versions of the Hendrickson – Red Quill, or Male Hendrickson Parachute Dry pattern. This dressing once again uses the stretchy body synthetic material, known on the fly tying material market by multiple names: Sexi-Floss, Dyna-Floss, Floss-Flex (formerly by Orvis as Super Floss – they discontinued it), etc.

Here is the Hendrickson Male or Red Quill Parachute:

#14 Red Quill Parachute Dry - tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

#14 Red Quill Parachute Dry – tied and photographed by Don Bastian. This photo and the one following are taken at different shutter speeds, and therefore they present different lighting and depth-of-field.

I have presented both these macro photos with different lighting, since the exposure may not accurately reflect the actual color of the fly. I suggest you combine what you see with what I write; generally there is truth (from me at least) in both the photo and written word. At least I endeavor to make it so.

#14 Hendrickson - Red Quill Parachute, tied with Sexi-Floss, etc. abdomen.

#14 Hendrickson – Red Quill Parachute, tied with Sexi-Floss, etc. abdomen.

Hendrickson Parachute Dry

Hook: Standard dry fly #12 and #14

Thread: Danville #47 Tobacco Brown

Wing: Dark dun Para-post

Tails: Dark dun Microfibetts, 6 fibers split 3/3 –  if you examine the group shot closely, you’ll see the division of the tail fibers

Abdomen: Brown – Sexi-Dyna-Super-Flex Floss

Thorax: Reddish brown rabbit dubbing

Hackle: Dark dun

Head: Red-brown

Tying Instructions:

1) Start tying thread at hook eye, position wing material about 1/3 distance from eye to hook point.

2) Post the base of the wing with thread about 3/32″ to 1/8″.

3) Attach clipped hackle stem upright to base of wing post.

4) Wind to hook point, clip tag thread end, attach six Microfibetts tail fibers. Wind to end of body. The tail fibers are divided using a left-hand thumb and finger pinch, ending with thumb-only pressure against hook bend. This makes the fibers flare out. Take the three fibers on the near side, using your left index finger tip to angle them toward you, and then divide the fibers with four figure-eight wraps using maximum tension thread wraps. YOU MUST do this with maximum thread tension, and you must also move your grasp w/left hand from right to left side of tail, back and forth, on the fibers as you progress, to stabilize and counteract the thread torque as the wraps are made. Up to speed, this takes me six to eight seconds to tie a split tail. But then again, since I started using this technique over twenty years ago, I bet I have tied more than 10,000 to 12,000 dry flies with this method and material. Experience and repetition is what really makes you good at what you do.

5) Advance thread to thorax, attach Sexi-Floss. Holding it secure with max thread tension, stretch it, and then wind back over the material, then back to thorax again. Be careful not to compress the tail fibers with the tying thread or the Sexi-Floss. The thread forms the underbody, and with the #47 Tobacco Brown thread and translucence of the Sexi-Floss, creates the lovely and realistic reddish-brown appearance as on the natural Ephemerella subvaria mayfly dun.

6) Wind the Sexi-Floss to form the abdomen. Secure with 3 -4 tight wraps, trim excess.

7) Apply dubbing and create thorax.

8) Wind the hackle counter-clockwise, five to six turns, tie off.

For additional instructions of the tying procedure, see my recent Parachute Adams post.

A dozen Hendrickson Pareachute Dyyuns, ready to fish!

A dozen #14 Hendrickson Parachute Duns, ready to fish! Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Between the split tails and the parachute hackle, this is a land-right-side-up-every-time fly pattern. Good tying style for any may fly pattern.

I will be happy at anytime when I am demo tying on locations to demonstrate and teach you this split-tail technique. I learned it from Barry Beck, back in my commercial tying days. This trick alone increased my Comparadun tying production from 9 to 10 flies an hour to 17 or 18. It’s true, I was once timed at a demonstration in Ontario – a #14 Light Cahill Comparadun, three minutes flat. Including head cement and fly out of the vise.

Also, following up on the successful bidding of my private fly tying lesson donation this past December to the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester,Vermont, I have recently started teaching private fly tying lessons right here in my rural Cogan Station, Pennsylvania, home. It is peaceful and quiet, St. Michael’s Road is lightly traveled; deer, turkeys, and other wildlife sightings, even the occasional black bear, are common. The view to the north of Bobst Mountain is gorgeous, and I’m far enough away from Williamsport that the light pollution is minimal – you can actually see the Milky Way in a clear night sky. On  warm summer night, if you leave your bedroom windows open, you may even hear the howl of coyotes.

If you come, you are my guest and are treated accordingly. All fly tying materials are provided, you only need to bring your vise, threaded bobbins, a light, and tools. Depending on time of year, your visit can also include a little hosted fishing if desired. The standard package is a morning arrival, stay all day, comfortable and quiet overnight accommodations, with a full breakfast the next morning. I do all the cooking and care for your comfort during your stay.

We can tie what ever you wish – drys, classic wet flies, saltwater patterns such as Lefty’s Deceiver, Half and Half, Clouser Minnows; hairwing salmon and steelhead patterns, nymphs, emergers, soft-hackles, 18th century Orvis and other classic and historic patterns, or bucktails and Rangeley and eastern style streamers. I specialize in classic wet flies, Carrie Stevens (teaching her original methods of material placement and usage), and other tiers of classic streamer patterns, 18th Century Lake Flies, and traditional patterns. Small groups of two or three persons can be accommodated.

For information, rates, and to schedule a day or two of personal fly tying instruction, please contact me at: dwbastian@chilitech.net

David Footer Articles Celebrate His Career

As I announced last week, both the Portland Press Herald and the Lewiston/Auburn Sun Journal, both of Maine, have published feature articles about David Footer in their Sunday September 16th Editions.

Here are the links: http://www.sunjournal.com/news/bplus/2012/09/16/one-fly-guy-50th-anniversary-footer-special-shines/1249071

http://www.pressherald.com/sports/footer-lewiston-artist-due-an-honor_2012-09-16.html?pageType=mobile&id=2&start=11
Below is the photo of the Footer Special that I tied and photographed for the Press Herald:

Footer Special – I tied this fly last Thursday evening.

The two articles combined, present informative and interesting information about a Maine taxidermist, artist, sculptor, and legend.

I am humbled and honored to be able to recognize David’s Footer Special fly pattern in its 50th Anniversary Year, and have Mr. Footer as the Guest of Honor this Friday, September 21st, at L. L. Bean in Freeport, Maine.

Footer Special Fly Tying Class with David Footer as Guest of Honor

It has been advertised for about a month that I am teaching a classic streamer fly tying class at L. L. Bean in Freeport, Maine, on Friday September 21st. There is only one space left, but Bean’s is also accepting stand-by names in event of any cancellations.

L. L. Bean also conducts regular fly tying classes Friday evenings at 7:00 PM. Since I was already scheduled to be present at Bean’s that day, I offered to serve as guest instructor for the Friday evening tying class on September 21st. In March, during the weekend of the L. L. Bean Spring Fishing Expo, I was invited to teach the class on March 16th. My suggestion to select a pattern different than the usual packaged fly pattern kits to the store manager was acceptable, as long as the pattern used materials in Bean’s regular fly tying stock. I chose the Footer Special, primarily since it is a pattern of  Maine origin, by taxidermist – artist David Footer. I thought the class would be relatively uneventful. I was wrong.

On the Friday afternoon of the Spring Fishing Expo, one of David Footer’s friends, Nick Sibilia, member of the Saco River Salmon Club, friend came by my display area and said, “I told Dave you were teaching his pattern tonight. He’s gonna try to come.” I was thrilled. I wouldn’t have given that a thought. I had met David for the first time at the Marlborough Fly Fishing Show in January of this year. https://donbastianwetflies.wordpress.com/2012/01/24/david-footer-and-the-footer-special/

David lives in the nearby Lewiston-Auburn area of Maine. It turned out that David could not be present that evening, but he was well-represented at the class by his daughter Julie, who works with him, and another daughter and her husband, and additional family members, grand-children, and I think even one of David’s great-grand-children. Julie had prepared a text on the origin and history of the Footer Special. This turned out to be a fortuitous combination of L. L. Bean’s 100th Anniversary and the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Footer Special streamer fly. The Footer Special was first published in the 1982 book, Trolling Flies for Trout and Salmon, by Dick Stewart and Bob Leeman.

It all came together very nicely that evening. The folks at Bean’s were delighted by the turnout. There were about 18 students in the class, and more spectators than students. It was the biggest attendance ever at Bean’s tying classes. It was a privilege to be involved in this.

I decided to again select the Footer Special for the class on September 21st. Once this was in motion, Ed Gauvin of the L. L. Bean Hunt / Fish Store and I decided to extend an invitation to David Footer to attend the class. I am delighted to announce that we have received confirmation from Julie Footer and David Footer. She and her father, and David’s wife, Annette, have graciously accepted the invitation and will be coming to the class on September 21st. Considering that we have more promotion time, it is anticipated that this evening will be even better than the previous Footer Special class.

David Footer has been an artist and taxidermist for over sixty years. He will be presenting his personal account of the Footer Special streamer pattern creation along with the big fish story that goes with it.

David Footer is one of the few remaining Maine personalities with direct links to the rich history and traditions of the Rangeley Lakes Region and the Golden Age of the Maine streamer fly. Julie Footer provided this information about her father: “He took the North Western School of Taxidermy correspondence course- and was licensed by the time he was 15, which was in 1946- that was also the year he first ever saw a Herb Welch mount: which was hanging at Bald Mountain Camps in the main Lodge. My father never knew who mounted that fish until years later (but the sight of it inspired him), and never met Herb Welch- to speak with about taxidermy until October of 1952 when he was 21 years old, and already had been a licensed taxidermist for six years.”

Herb Welch was a contemporary and friend of Carrie G. Stevens. Between Carrie Stevens’ Gray Ghost and Herb’s Black Ghost, they own the distinction of being the originators of the two most famous streamer patterns ever created. Herb Welch was recognized as the best taxidermist of his day. David Footer is linked to this history through personal experience.

Julie also included this information, “Under the direction of Master Taxidermist Herb Welch, David’s mentor, he honed his skills and became a master himself in the craft.” Here is a link to David’s About the Artist web page: http://davidfooter.com/?page_id=3

This Footer Special fly tying class with pattern originator David A. Footer as guest of honor will be held on the mezzanine at L. L. Bean, 7:00 PM. The class is free, anyone is welcome to attend. Materials will be provided. Tiers should plan your arrival ten to fifteen minutes early! Spectators are welcome!

I was priviliged to tie the Footer Special for the 2000 book, Forgotten Flies. It is also one of the patterns included in my 2007 DVD, Traditional Streamers and Bucktails.

I am very excited about this! A special thank you to Julie Footer, for your assistance in providing accurate information of your father’s early years of taxidermy. Thank you all for your interest and support!

The Footer Special – created by David Footer in 1962.

Footer Special:

Hook: Any standard streamer hook, 6x to 10x long, size #1 to #8

Body: Flat gold tinsel

Belly: Sparse dark blue bucktail followed by 4 – 6 strands peacock herl

Underwing: Sparse red bucktail over which is sparse yellow bucktail

Wing: Two yellow hackles; some tiers use four hackles in the wing

Shoulders: Guinea fowl body feathers

Head: Black

There is a large flat-screen TV to provide a detailed, close-up view of the tying instructions to the class.

Floss “Body Keeper” – A Step-by-step Tutorial

I’ve already fielded several questions from my readers on my Lady Killer post:  https://donbastianwetflies.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/lady-killer/  and have tried to explain to the best of my ability, my technique of using a mini-version of Warren Duncan’s floss body “keeper” technique to help secure the rear of floss bodies on streamers and wet flies. It will be a while until I can shoot, edit, and post a video, so I went for the next best thing: a step-by-step photo tutorial. I just finished it. It was done quickly, on a fly in progress in less than ten minutes as I was working on another Carrie Stevens pattern, the Artula. I’ll just comment on each photo in the steps. Hopefully this will clarify the method somewhat.

Those of you that have taken a class from me in the last year-and-a-half have been exposed to this trick on wet fly bodies. I have been teaching the use of a body-length floss keeper on wet flies, as New Brunswick fly tier Warren Duncan employed on his floss body patterns, before his untimely passing in 2007, which occurred at his vise while working on a commercial fly order. I have yet to teach this method for floss bodies on streamers. The reasons are described in the photos on the Lady Killer post. Here are the instructions, quickly photographed as I stated; my camera was hand-held, and I futzed with the lighting and shutter speeds until I got something suitably decent. Due to the orange and digital camera automatic color reading they aren’t the best. But hopefully they are clear enough to present the steps and procedure with clarity.

Step 1: Tag and tail are set and secure. Only one wrap is used to secure the tail before adding the keeper. The “keeper,” two short strands of Danville’s No. 7 orange floss have been tied in with two wraps of the working thread, Danville’s 3/0 monocord. The funky lighting and automatic camera lens default settings interaction makes the floss and tail look yellow. You can see the clipped butt of the tinsel tag. The next step is to advance the tying thread to the front of the shank where 4 strands of floss 12″ to 13″ long for the body are attached with a top pinch wrap. The working thread is then wrapped back over the floss as it is held taut, lashing it to the top of the hook shank. Return thread to rear of body as in next photo.

Step 2: Working thread has been returned to the rear of the body, lashing the floss to the shank after being attached at the head. The body floss has been securely tied in. The tinsel ribbing has also been tied in. With no photo, proceed with the next step by advancing the tying thread to the head. I stop winding to spin my bobbin counterclockwise a few times as I go to keep the thread flat. You’ll note I used open wraps of the thread to get forward quickly.

When wrapping floss fly bodies, the most important part, and the most critical point in the process to achieve good results, is to properly start your first wraps. By nature of its multiple strands, floss cannot be attached at one small point on the shank of the hook. To accurately describe this, envision the circumference of the hook shank compared to a 360-degree circle. The floss cannot be attached at one narrow spot where it may only occupy 5 degrees or less of the hook shank surface. About the minimum we can expect is 25% coverage. 40% to 70% is the norm.

When any stranded fly tying material separates during winding, whether it is peacock herl, antron yarn, or floss, the reason this occurs is because uniform tension is not being maintained on all the fibers. Floss is most difficult of stranded fly tying body materials to get under control. It must be properly setup before the first wrap in completed. If this is not done, then the problem of separation of fibers only exacerbates as you continue.

First, elevate the floss perpendicular to the hook shank. Then using both hands, employ a thumb and finger tip stroking action, alternating from right to left hand as you do this. This action tightens the fibers. Then, while continuing the two-handed stroking action, begin to advance the floss, all the while still using both hands, stroking the floss as the wrap is advanced; three o’clock, five o’clock, 6, 7, 8 o’clock positions about the hook shank.

You only need to be concerned with, and concentrate on two-and-a-half to three inches of the floss fibers, because that is the portion that is actually wound and wrapped about the shank of the hook. If tying a wet fly using six inches of floss, or a streamer using twelve to fifteen inches of floss, the procedure remains the same.

If you elevate the floss perpendicular and do not gain proper tight tension of every last strand, then what happens is, remember the percentage of the hook shank covered by the attached floss, the fibers on the leading edge will sag, while the fibers on the trailing will tighten.The floss fibers that occupy the space between the leading edge and trailing edge all do this to a varying degree relative to their placement in the floss bundle on the hook shank.

What you must do! Tighten all the floss fibers before you being to wrap, , then simply advance the floss, continuing the two-handed thumb and finger stroking on just three inches of floss to maintain uniform tension of all the fibers, and this is very important for you to understand, it bears repeating:  maintain uniform tension of all the fibers as the tension of each individual fiber relative to the tie-in point on the hook shank changes during the initial rotation. It is unnecessary to stroke the entire length of the floss being used.

Your goal is to set up the floss, before winding begins, so that all the fibers are uniformly tight against shank of the hook, before you begin to wrap. I guarantee, if this is properly done as instructed, you will easily wind the floss smoothly and with no separation. Floss generally is wound by placing the first complete wrap on the shank, then each subsequent wrap is made by advancing the floss, placing 1/2 its width on top of the previous wrap, the front 1/2 onto the thread underbody.

If a tapered body, larger in front is desired, then decrease the pace of your advance. The more the floss is “held back” it begins to add bulk to itself.

Step 3: Two forward wraps have been made with the body floss. The keeper still hangs off to the rear. Hackle pliers grip the floss to hold it taut while I took the photo. Are you with me so far? The next step is to bring the keeper forward over the two established wraps of the body floss.

Step 4: The two short “keeper strands” of floss have been pulled forward; you can see they have formed a tiny shell back. Next, after making a partial wrap with the floss, switch your grasp on the floss to your left hand (opposite or right hand for your lefties). But just enough to trap the keeper forward. Grasp and pull the keeper taut with your right hand and then complete the third wrap with the body floss. It is when pulled forward in this manner, that the keeper adds more coverage to the floss body over the circumference of the hook shank at the rear of the body. This produces an additional gripping effect on the floss that secures it with more coverage than what is normally done by the ribbing alone. Carefully advance the floss forward, and try to maintain the keeper strands on the top of the hook shank.

Step 5: The body floss has been advanced about 2/3 of the way forward. You can see the butt ends of the two keeper stands protruding from the front of the body wraps. Continue wrapping the floss forward to complete the body. Sorry the photo is a little blurry. I stopped at The Trail Inn for a pint of Guinness on the way home from the bank. Actually the beer wasn’t the reason…you can blame the klutzy photographer. :mrgreen:

Step 6: The finishing thread for the head, Danville’s No. 7 Orange Flymaster 6/0 has replaced the white monocord. The ribbing has been wound. Carrie Stevens made her ribbing wraps rather close together, so on an 8x long hook, to adhere to her style, I’ll make 14 – 16 wraps. This hook is a #1 – 8x.

Once you have reached this stage you can secure the thread and start another body, or move on to attaching the belly, throat, and wing assembly to complete the fly. I hope these instructions clear the waters. Have fun!