Fly Fishing Show Somerset New Jersey

I wanted to post the news to my readers that I will be at the Fly Fishing Show in Somerset, New Jersey, this coming weekend, January 24, 25, and 26. I am sharing a table with Dean Myers, fellow Pennsylvanian and the new owner of As a member of the Regal Vise Company Pro Staff, I am also presenting a two-hour fly tying demonstration at the Regal Engineering Company booth on Friday afternoon from 2 – 4 PM.

I will be tying patterns such as parachute drys and scud hook nymph patterns for which the Regal non-true rotary design feature provides unique ergonomic advantages. I will also demonstrate setting of fan wings on dry fly patterns, showing how to mount, position, and align these tricky wings in less than two minutes.

I addition I will have my usual selection of classic wet flies for sale, including replicated antique flies on antique hooks with antique silk gut snells and snoods, along with my usual assortment of various fishing patterns and classic wet flies and streamers, singly and in pairs for the collector. Stop by and say hello!


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:

For additional information feel free to contact the shop or me directly at:

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!

International Fly Tying Symposium This Weekend

The International Fly Tying Symposium will be held this weekend in Somerset, New Jersey, at the Garden State Exhibit Center. The show hotel is the nearby Doubletree.

Here is a link containing information to the Fly Tying Symposium:

I am displaying and demonstrating at the Symposium this weekend, concentrating on the tying and teaching of Rangeley style streamers, featuring some patterns of Carrie Stevens; classic wet flies, both 19th and 20th century versions – four styles of mounting wet fly wings, and also some blind-eye 19th century patterns, particularly a few of the large fancy Lake and Bass flies. I’ve been tying primarily at shows lately on Mustad #4 and #2 wet fly hooks. Be sure to ask about my “new,” to me, and you too, probably, and greatly improved over all others, wet fly wing mounting method, thanks to my friend Dave Lomasney of York, Maine. I also promised to my readers to demo my method for mounting duck breast feathers for fan wing dry fly patterns. If anyone is interested I can tie a Fan Wing Royal Coachman start to finish.

I’m excited to present (for me anyway, and probably other tiers too), for the first time in public, the historically correct pattern version, every component correct according to originator Henry Wells, of the Parmacheene Belle, famous Maine Lake Fly dating to the year of its origin, approximately 1876. The complete accurate recipe for this fly was recorded in Wells’ chapter titled Fly Fishing the Rangeley Lakes Region in C. F. Orvis and A. N. Cheney’s 1883 book, Fishing With the Fly. Maybe it’s not significant to some, but I finally got hold of some yellow mohair dubbing, which is the original body material, and the color closely matches my photos of one-hundred-twenty year old Parmacheene Belles taken from the Orvis collection at the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vermont. I have a #1/0 bronze hook Parmacheene Belle tied on a gut snell with a bite guard. Stop by and check it out! It is interesting that the Orvis version of Wells’ famous pattern was created with a married half-red, half-white wing, not the original white-with-red-stripe married wing. Perhaps they developed an easier-to-tie commercial version.

Another author got Well’s mohair body incorrect in a 1950 book by calling for a yellow palmered hackle on a yellow wool or floss body. He likely relied on the painted image in Marbury’s book for his interpretation, because the original mounted fly patterns from her book were not discovered until the 1970’s in the old Orvis fly tying barn in Manchester, Vermont. The fish more likely than not probably don’t care, but I believe strongly in ascertaining historic fly pattern ingredient correctness, whenever possible. My photo of the original Plate Fly of No. 60, the Parmacheene Belle from Favorite Flies and Their Histories, 1892, by Mary Orvis Marbury, will be available on my table through the wonders of a lap-top computer, which will be running an on-going slide show of more than two hundred images of the actual plate flies from Marbury’s book.

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

Parmacheene Belle, Lake Fly from the 1893 Orvis Display at the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vermont. I have posted this image previously, but I felt its inclusion here would enhance this post. Note the red and white wing, not Well’s original white wing with red stripe.

Below is an image of the cousin to the Parmacheene Belle, the Parmacheene Beau, which according to Marbury, Henry Wells had nothing to do with. It is surprising that the Parmacheene Beau is included on the Orvis Display, considering her rather derogatory remarks about “the Beau” in her book.

Parmacheene Beau,

Parmacheene Beau, Lake Fly, from the 1893 Orvis Display. Note the scarlet “split” or stripe. The mohair body is more noticeable here, and the tinsel tag is visible; it is there on the Parmacheene Belle, but not visible due to poor lighting. Both these hooks are large, No. 1, 1/0, possibly 2/0.

I’m also on the Saturday evening banquet program, for a short, humorous, musical presentation. Hope to see new and old friends this weekend! Tight threads everyone!

Arts of the Angler Show – November 9 – 10

I would like to remind my readers and their friends that this coming weekend, the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum will hold its annual Arts of the Angler Show at the Ethan Allen Inn, in Danbury, Connecticut. The Ethan Allen Inn is located off I-84 at Exit 4, Lake Avenue. The Arts of the Angler Show is a full feature fly fishing show in an elegant atmosphere.

Saturday hours are from 8:30 AM until 5:00 PM. Sunday hours are from 9:00 AM until 3:30 PM. Admission is $12 per day or $20 for both days. Saturday evening will feature a price-fixed dinner for $23, including tax, gratuity, and a complimentary glass of wine. A live auction is scheduled to start at 7:00 PM. Dinner reservations must be made at the front desk by 2:00 PM Saturday.

The Fly Tying Studio kicks off Saturday morning at 11:00 AM. The first session features yours truly, tying the White Ghost streamer. I will be demonstrating this Carrie Stevens pattern using her authentic and original Rangeley-style of streamer construction, with a few personal modifications such as the type of cement I use to fasten the wing assembly. Also, my use of rayon floss and mylar tinsel does not inherently alter the characteristic of her flies. Oh, and I tie my streamers with a vise. She tied without a vise, and I tried a few of her patterns that way. Honestly, I don’t know how she pulled that off, some of her pattens, yeah, but the more complex ones, you got me. But that’s one reason why Carrie Stevens is one of the greatest female fly tiers who ever lived. My procedure for tying and teaching her streamer patterns and methods is the result of years of experience, but more specifically, from the study of personal photos that are copies of Austin Hogan’s notes on Carrie’s tying methods, which were created by his deconstruction of her patterns. I also incorporate a few techniques adapted from one of the best streamer tiers in the country, Mike Martinek, Jr. Mike was with Austin Hogan in the late 1960’s on one occasion when they disassembled four of Mrs. Stevens’ flies, so he has an inside view and experience and level of knowledge that no other living streamer tier possesses. Thanks Mike, for sharing your knowledge!

Other fly tiers featured in the Fly Tying Studio on the hour are Safet Nickocevic, Peggy Brenner, “Fishy”Fullum, and John Likakis. More than thirty-five fly tiers are scheduled to participate in this event.

Here is a link to the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum site on the show, this includes photos and descriptions of the Live Auction items.

For more information, call the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum: 845-439-4810. Please come and support the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum.

To whet your appetite, and to give you something to look at, here is a photo of a White Ghost streamer:

White Ghost streamer, Carrie Stevens pattern tied and photographged by Don Bastian. The hook is a size #1 - 8x long Gaelic Supreme Martinek / Stevens Rangeley Style Streamer.

White Ghost streamer – a Carrie Stevens pattern tied and photographed by Don Bastian. The hook is a size #1 – 8x long Gaelic Supreme Martinek / Stevens Rangeley Style Streamer.

Doc Fritchey Trout Unlimited Chapter Meeting

I would like to announce for anyone that lives within reasonable driving distance of the south-central Pennsylvania area, specifically the state capital of Harrisburg, that I am presenting the program this Tuesday evening, October 22, at the monthly meeting of the Doc Fritchey Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

My program topic is Wyoming’s Miracle Mile. This presentation details a fishing trip I made some years ago to the Miracle Mile section of the North Platte River. My slides include photographs of beautiful rugged Wyoming scenery, plus images of the river and the areas we fished. Fly patterns, tactics, water conditions, tackle, and playing and photographing fish will be included in the presentation.

The meeting program starts at 7:30 PM and will be held in the Hunt Club room on the second floor of the Bass Pro Shop in the Harrisburg East Mall on Paxton Street in Harrisburg. This is right off I-83. The meeting is open to the public. Come and bring a friend!