A Weekend With Carrie Stevens

Been gone too long, sorry about that, lots of reasons, none bad. ūüėČ No time to even explain, not that it would be necessary. ūüôā

Here is my next professional engagement; I am one of seven featured fly tiers at a special event being held at the Outdoor Sporting Heritage Museum in Oquossoc, Maine. The dates are June 26, 27, 28. Here is the facebook page link for those of you on facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/events/940130296038129/

And here is the link to their website / events page:

http://rangeleyoutdoormuseum.org/rangeley-outdoor-museum-events.asp

Check this out! The other tiers are Leslie Hilyard, co-author of “Carrie Stevens: Maker of Rangeley Favorite Trout and Salmon Flies;” Peggy Brenner, Selene Dumaine, Sam Kenney, Peter Simonson, Chris Del Plato, and Ted Patlen. Graydon Hilyard will also be present. Lots of cool stuff scheduled for the weekend. Leslie Hilyard will be deconstructing an original Carrie Stevens streamer, and there is going to be a raffle for a Carrie Stevens original streamer, and much more!

I have not been fishing. Don’t even have a license yet… Been busy tying flies, was behind on my orders, and still am a little bit. Playing in the band frequently. Absolutely loving that! Next Thursday, June 4th, the band has 8 gigs in 17 days, and we start with a 4-day run, playing June 4, 5, 6, 7 at local venues. Three outdoor gigs. Here’s the band website in case you want to divert your fishing interest for a few minutes.

http://www.pepperstreetband.com

Mary and I will be spending a couple days at Lakewood Camps before the event, and then “local” at the Pleasant Street Bed & Breakfast in Rangeley.

http://pleasantstreetinnbb.com/

http://www.lakewoodcamps.com/

And to give you some eye-candy, here are two Carrie Stevens patterns tried by my Maryland friend, Bill Shuck:

Green Beauty Streeameer, tieed by Bill Shuck.

Green Beauty Streamer, tied by Bill Shuck.

Queen of the Waters, tied by Bill Shuck. This pattern is not in the Hilyard book, but is in Forgotten Flies. An original tied by her is photographed.

Queen of the Waters, tied by Bill Shuck. This pattern is not in the Hilyard book, but is in “Forgotten Flies.” An original tied by her is photographed.

 

Kelley’s Killer – Carrie Stevens Pattern

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kelley’s Killer – Carrie Stevens Recipe:

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

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

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

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

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

Shoulder: Tan-tipped Amherst pheasant feather

Cheek: Jungle cock

Head: Black with orange band

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the head and shoulder macro:

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

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

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

Carrie Stevens Streamer Deconstruction – Who Was First?

This article is sub-titled with an old adage: “You can’t believe everything you read.” There is a very easy answer to that question, but first this: The current¬†issue of “Fly Tyer” magazine states¬†that a new book, just published this month by Stackpole Books, on tying streamers by a newly published female author from Maine, with barely six years of fly tying experience to her credit – not that there’s anything wrong with that ūüėČ –¬†was the first person to perform¬†and write about the process of deconstructing a Carrie Stevens streamer. In this instance the pattern was the Blue Devil. I don’t know what other information¬†was¬†given¬†(fabricated) about this “deconstruction”, or exactly how this information was presented, because I¬†no longer¬†read that magazine, but I do know this: That statement is totally false. Reference to sub-title. ūüėČ The first person to deconstruct a Carrie Stevens streamer, as far as we know, AND write about it in some fashion, and¬†record the information, was Austin S. Hogan. Hogan was written about in “Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing” by Joseph Bates in 1950, as the originator of a number of streamer patterns. Hogan was also the first Curator of the American Museum of Fly Fishing (AMFF) in Manchester Vermont, a position he assumed in 1970.¬†Austin was a noted angling historian, and a personal friend of Carrie Stevens. Hogan had acquired a number of the prepared pattern sheets similar to the ones she sold to Wendell Folkins in December 1953 when he bought her business. A number of these are photographed and shown in the Hilyard “Carrie Stevens” book.

In 1967, Hogan and a young¬†fly tier in his learning years, Mike Martinek, Jr., of Stoneham, Massachusetts, both members of¬†United Fly Tyers, deconstructed not one, but four Carrie Stevens streamers in Hogan’s apartment. A Big Ben, a Gray Ghost, and a couple other patterns. These flies were all damaged. One was missing a jungle cock cheek, another had a broken hook point, etc. They might¬†be named in another article¬†on my blog, but I’m going from memory here in the interest of getting this written. I have a lot to do this week. Mike was taken under¬†Hogan’s wing, and lucky he was, and how fortunate for the rest of us¬†fly tiers interested in tying streamers, and not only tying them, but also being interested in the historical accuracy of tying them correctly AND tying the patterns¬†true to the style of the originator.¬†Mike observed intently¬†as Hogan did the work, each fly in a vise, and¬†extensive notes were taken during the process. These notes were later copied and made onto poster board images. As recently as 2012 when the AMFF¬†had the display titled “A Graceful Rise” featuring fifty women who made significant contributions in the history and rise of fly fishing and fly tying, Hogan’s set of notes were included in the display on Carrie Stevens. I took photos of those notes, downloaded them to my hard drive, and learned first-hand the exact process of Carrie Stevens streamer construction. From these notes, it can be ascertained how the “deconstruction” would go. The “secrets” of Carrie Stevens’s methods of assembly are revealed in Hogan’s notes, so one could say there is nothing new to discover. But to anyone who does not know any bit or volume of information on any subject, the unveiling of such information¬†is always a “discovery.”
This includes the “elusive” white throat that is part of the Gray Ghost, though it was mysteriously omitted from the recipes of at least five books containing the recipe for the Gray Ghost. For the info on that, go to the search tab here, type in¬†“Gray Ghost White Ghost” and hit the “enter” key. Here is a macro of one page of Hogan’s notes:

Copy of Austin Hogan's notes on the construction of Carrie Stevens streamers.

Copy of a part of one page of Austin Hogan’s notes on the construction of Carrie Stevens streamers. This instruction specifically refers to her Gray Ghost. Don Bastian photo.

Of course the obvious observation is this: Since Hogan made these extensive notes, diagrams, and type-written text on Carrie Stevens’s unique, self-taught methods of¬†streamer construction, it goes without saying that he would have had to deconstruct her¬†streamers to discover¬†and reveal her methods. I have several images of these notes, the complete set that was on display at the AMFF, which at some point I will publish here. More recently, Graydon and Leslie Hilyard, authors of “Carrie Stevens: Rangeley Favorite Trout and Salmon Flies,” also published an article including the photographic step-by-step deconstruction of a Carrie Stevens Blue Devil. This was done in 2002, in The American Fly Fisher, the journal of the AMFF. Martinek also informed me that Robert Warren, who recreated the 1800’s Rangeley Region Lake Flies in the “Carrie Stevens” book, was present during the Hilyard / Blue Devil deconstruction. Here is a link to that volume with their article: http://www.amff.com/american-fly-fisher-2002.html

I close with¬†clarification¬†of¬†rumors, or glowing false statements being published: Mike Martinek is¬†the current expert on the history, tying, and information of Carrie Stevens streamers, and her methods of tying. He was present when four¬†Carrie Stevens streamers were deconstructed 48 years ago. Mike has been a fly tier all those years, and he has been teaching her methods for many years. A number of Mike’s students are also very knowledgeable and skilled streamer fly tiers,¬† and they have been¬† tying flies for decades. No to discredit anyone accomplishments; but some new kid on the block with less than six years experience is not suddenly the new reigning expert on Carrie Stevens, it just does not happen. Nor does being a woman from Maine and a fly tier suddenly make her or any other female resident of Maine, or any state for that matter, the next Carrie Stevens. Experience can only be earned with time and perseverance, it cannot be achieved without the actual time it requires, or bestowed or gifted by a magazine editor, or self-proclaimed by anyone who simply has not gained experience¬†for themselves. It comes as a badge of Honor to anyone who works hard and¬†stays at their craft for years and years. Having talent is a great help, it makes one become good at their craft, but rapid¬†development and growth of talent can occur whether one is an athlete, musician, academic student, wood-carver, etc., but development of talent in a short time span is still no substitute for experience. The information¬†a magazine / editor / newspaper states / presents ought to be thoroughly vetted and fact-checked before publication. That’s good journalism.¬†Fly Tyer magazine needs to publish a correction (at least) and even apologize to¬†their readers, and to Graydon and Leslie Hilyard, and to Mike Martinek for this misinformation¬†as far¬†as I’m concerned. Don’t hold your breath folks.

As noted in the “Favorite Fishing Flies – 1892” article, the “dramatic” true-life experience narratives and comments have been removed. Those of you who were part of that, I thank you sincerely for your support. I am moving on.¬†Life is good!

Stanley Williams – Streamer Tier

Not long ago I made the online acquaintance of a young man from West Enfield, Maine, by the name of Stanley Williams. He ties a very nice replica, what I have seen so far, of Carrie Stevens streamer patterns. I thought I would share one of his flies here, the reason being that I think it is really great that a young fellow like Stanley has found the passion to continue the tradition of tying her patterns, and from what I have learned thus far, he is making every effort to do so in the true and correct historic fashion. I know he mentioned to me in an e-mail that he went to the former home of Carrie and Wallace Stevens in Upper Dam, Maine, set up an impromptu fly tying station in the form of two saw horses, and tied a Gray Ghost streamer in the back yard. That was a pretty cool thing to do.

Here are some images Stanley sent me of his rendition of Carrie Stevens’ Blue Devil.

Blue Devil tied by Stanley Williams.

Blue Devil tied by Stanley Williams.

Blue Devil tied by Stanley Williams.

Blue Devil tied by Stanley Williams.

Blue Devil tied by Stanley Williams.

Blue Devil tied by Stanley Williams. Note the elongated head shape, which was the preference and style of head finished on original streamers dressed by Carrie Stevens.

Blue Devil tied by Stanley Williams.

Blue Devil tied by Stanley Williams. Note also: the wing angle – the¬†jungle cock cheek and center line of the stems of the shoulder and wing¬†is slightly above the horizontal line of the hook shank. The length of the bucktail and herl underbelly is equally as long as the wing. These are proportion and material placement details of Carrie Stevens’s original Rangeley Style of streamer tying that some tiers overlook. Stanley has ’em down. ūüėČ

Top view of Blue Devil tied by Stanley Williams - showing near-perfect alignment of the wing assembly.

Top view of Blue Devil tied by Stanley Williams – showing near-perfect alignment of the wing assembly.

Very nice Stanley! Keep up the good work!

PS: If memory serves, my blog articles¬†may have had something to do with Stanley’s “conversion” to my preference to band the heads of¬†the Carrie Stevens streamer patterns. While I know she stated the band was her signature of¬†sorts,¬†I believe the band color is moreover a part of the pattern design.¬†Plus this significant fact: When Wendell Folkins bought her business in 1953,¬†she insisted that he continue to include the banded heads and colors she created when tying her patterns, no doubt as a way to continue the “recognition” and signature of her original streamer patterns. Carrie Stevens also tied other popular patterns such as the Black Ghost, Colonel Fuller, Supervisor, and in some cases, she added a slight variation to the materials, and certainly in the tying style.

Carrie Stevens Streamer Patterns

I have posted these same flies previously, but these are some new flies and new photos.

Carrie Stevens Streamer patterns; closkciws from upper left:

An assortment of Carrie Stevens Streamer patterns; clockwise from upper left: Pink Lady (2); Gray Ghost (2); Blue Devil (2); Colonel Bates (2);¬†Larry’s Special, Larry, Rapid River, and Lakewood, center. All dressed on Gaelic Supreme Rangeley Style Carrie Stevens / Mike Martinek streamer hooks. Sizes are #1, #2, #4 all 8x long.

And a macro of the heads, shoulders, and cheeks like spokes of a wheel.

Same flies arranged in a wheel pattern. The head band colors are true to Carrie's original pattern specs.

Same flies arranged in a wheel pattern. The head band colors are true to Carrie’s original pattern specs.

And carded for sale to collectors:

Lakewood - Carrie Stevens streamer pattern, named for Lakwood Camps. Only a few of her 100-plus original patterns sported an orange head with a black band.

Lakewood – Carrie Stevens streamer pattern, named for Lakwood Camps. Only a few of her 100-plus original patterns sported an orange head with a black band.

Larry - a streamer pattern designed by Carrie Stevens and named after Larry Parsons, owner of Lakewood Camps from 1945 to 1974.

Larry – a streamer pattern designed by Carrie Stevens and named after Larry Parsons, owner of Lakewood Camps from 1945 to 1974.

Larry's Special - the second of two streamer patterns created by Carrie Stevens, named for Larry Parsons, owner of Lakewood Camps from 1945 - 1974.

Larry’s Special – the second of two streamer patterns created by Carrie Stevens, named for Larry Parsons, owner of Lakewood Camps from 1945 – 1974.

Rapid River - the fourth streamer pattern created by Carrie G. Stevens and associated with the Rapid River, Lakewood Camps, and former camp owner Larry Parsons.

Rapid River – the fourth streamer pattern created by Carrie G. Stevens and associated with the Rapid River, Lakewood Camps, and former camp owner Larry Parsons.

These four streamers are available in a boxed set, part of my Collector’s Edition series of Carrie Stevens streamer patterns. Presently priced at $80, the cost is soon going up for a few reasons – they have been¬†rather inexpensive for one, and also to¬†help cover the 5% fee and shipping¬†costs associated with MyFlies.com. Here is the link to the “Lakewood” Collector’s Edition Set No. 4 on MyFlies.com:

http://www.myflies.com/Carrie-Stevens-Streamer-Patterns-Collectors-Edition-Set-No-4-P784.aspx

Originally when I listed these sets for sale, I was winding the ribbing clockwise, but a couple years ago I¬†changed that on Carrie Stevens patterns to wind counter clockwise as she did. I also learned how to apply the throats in her unique, original¬†layered method, the result of my photos and study of the copies of Austin Hogan’s notes that were on display at the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vermont. This method was first learned by contemporary fly tier, Mike Martinek, Jr., of Stoneham, Massachusetts. Conversations I have had with Mike have benefitted me, and his classes have taught other tiers, to name a few, Rich Connors, Peter Simonson, and Peggy Brenner how to replicate streamers in the true Carrie Stevens Rangeley method. Mike had the good fortune to be taken under the wing of Austin Hogan while a young member of the United Fly Tyers in the Boston area. Mike was privileged to participate in the deconstruction of three or four Carrie Stevens original streamer patterns in Austin’s apartment in 1967. The information Mike¬†learned has been presented in a number of articles and videos over the years. Thanks Mike, for your help, and learning and passing on¬†techniques that might have been lost.

I feel the need to make a few more comments: The knowledge and experience of Mike Martinek and other long-time streamer tiers should not be considered lightly. These folks who have put their time in – for years – decades – learning and honing their craft – are the¬†fly tiers who deserve credit for¬†their expertise, knowledge, and credibility. One does not gain¬†“expert” status merely by tying for a few years and then suddenly coming out of the woodwork and¬†writing a bunch of articles and even a book. I don’t care how good a fly tier may be, I realize, like musicians, some folks have talent and aptitude to excel at an early stage. A couple friends in the few years stage of very good fly tying I would make note of are Stanley Williams of West Enfield, Maine, and fellow Pennsylvanian, Eunan Hendron. Yet there¬†is ultimately no substitute¬†for decades of experience. Look at me, I have been tying flies for almost fifty-one years, and it was only in 2012 that I learned the correct way to authentically dress Carrie Stevens Rangeley Style streamers, in the fashion that she originated.¬†For me the final learning curve was merely noticing and paying attention to details that I ought to have recognized earlier on. However, I do not, and likely never will attempt to hand-tie her patterns. Tried once and quite frankly, I don’t know how she pulled it off, to do her throat method while holding the hook, working the thread, and placing the hackle fibers. An old dog can learn new tricks, but this dog won’t likely tie streamers sans vise.

A pair of Gray Ghosts. A Carrie G. Stevens streamer pattern, first found listed on one of her invoices in 1934. No argument here; the Gray Ghost is the most famous streamer pattern ever created, and not likely to ever be surpassed in that distinction.

A pair of Gray Ghosts. A Carrie G. Stevens streamer pattern, first found listed on one of her invoices in 1934. No argument here; the Gray Ghost is the most famous streamer pattern ever created, and not likely to ever be surpassed in that distinction.

A pair of Colonel Bates streamers. Oddly enough, and I don't like to complain, but the person for whom this fly was named had two components incorrectly labeled in his own book.  Joseph D. Bates "Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing." Subsequent evidence - numerous Carrie Stevens original Colonel Bates streamers, including the Captain Bates and Major Bates, show the tail to be red hackle fibers. This makes sense, since not one  of the 100-plus streamer flies she originated have sections of duck quill for tails. And the shoulders on the Colonel Bates are and always were gray mallard, not teal.

A pair of Colonel Bates streamers. Oddly enough, and I don’t like to complain, but the person for whom this fly was named had two components incorrectly labeled in his own book. Joseph D. Bates “Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing.” Subsequent evidence – numerous Carrie Stevens original Colonel Bates streamers, including the Captain Bates and Major Bates, show the tail to be red hackle fibers. This makes sense, since not one of the 100-plus streamer flies she originated have sections of duck quill for tails. And the shoulders on the Colonel Bates are and always were gray mallard, not teal.

A pair of Blue Devils.

A pair of Blue Devils. One of the three streamer patterns in Carrie Stevens “Devil” series. The other two are the Red Devil and White Devil. All three patterns sport shoulders of “partridge” or pah-tridge” – indigenous to her local area near Upper Dam at¬†Mooselucmaguntic Lake in Maine’s famous Rangeley Lakes Region.

A pair of the Pink Lady streamer pattern, originated by Carrie Stevens. This was the final fly tied of her career, on the day in December 1953, when she sold her business to H. Wendell Folkins of New Hampshire.

A pair of the Pink Lady streamer pattern, originated by Carrie Stevens. This was the final fly tied of her career, on the day in December 1953, when she sold her business to H. Wendell Folkins of New Hampshire.

The Carrie Stevens Collector’s Edition Set No. 1 is available on MyFlies.com:

http://www.myflies.com/Carrie-Stevens-Streamer-Patterns-Collectors-Edition-Set-No-1-P658.aspx

One tying note I’d like to point out, and I learned this from experience and just by paying attention: When replicating Carrie Stevens streamer patterns, it is important to¬†note that images of her original patterns – the proportions – the components of underbelly, underwing of bucktail peacock herl, golden pheasant crest, silver pheasant crests, should¬†always be¬†as long as the wing. No shorties. I mean, you can tie them anyway you like to fish with, but for the sake of fly pattern historical accuracy, lets be true to her original design specs and proportions.

Cost of these four-fly Collector’s Sets is going to be increased to $90. Orders may also be place directly through me. Find me on facebook too: Don Bastian.

Carrie Stevens – Silver Doctor

Not too long ago a friend sent me this picture of a streamer. At first we were not sure what it was, though we were both pretty sure it was a Carrie Stevens tied fly. My friend sent the image to Don Palmer, of the Rangeley Outdoor Heritage Museum in Oquossoc, Maine, and he identified it as a Silver Doctor, though sans a few parts.

It’s pretty well beat, missing both cheeks, and the shoulder is gone as well on one side. The significant part of this image is that you can see evidence of Carrie’s use of cement / varnish, in the interior section of the wing. In addition to pre-assembling and cementing her wing components in advance; hackles, shoulders, and cheeks, she applied cement to the inner portion of the wing to help hold the fly together, and also used it to¬†help set the wings. Here you go:

Silver Doctor Streamer, tied by Carrie Stevens.

Silver Doctor Streamer, tied by Carrie Stevens. The jungle cock cheek is missing. The normally red head has oxidized and changed color from rusting of the hook.

And here is the revealing image that most of us never get to see:

The inside of a Carrie Stevens streamer fly - look closely, you can see residue of cement that held the shoulder in place. This also bears witness to how much cement she used, and how long of the stem portion of the feathers she applied it to.

The inside of a Carrie Stevens streamer fly РSilver Doctor, missing both the gray mallard shoulder and jungle cock cheek. Look closely, you can see residue of cement that held the shoulder in place. This also bears witness to how much cement she used, and how long of the stem portion of the feathers she applied it to. You can also see more of the throat fibers exposed, revealing a bit of her unique, self-taught, layering method of applying the throat to her flies. The copy of notes I have that were made by Austin S. Hogan, angling historian, and the first curator of the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vermont, reinforce all that I have described here.

Don’t forget, you can click on the pic, enlarge it, and be better able to view the cement residue. Remember, Carrie Stevens was a milliner by trade, so when¬†she started tying flies in 1920 when she was already in her forties, it was only natural for her to apply what she learned in her trade to her new profession of fly tying.

The other thing that is noteworthy; you can also see the slight up-angle of the wing, the stems are not in perfect parallel alignment with the shank of the hook, as I’ve seen some tiers do, but are at a slight angle above the horizontal line of the hook shank. I mean to me, if you’re gonna tie Carrie Stevens patterns then I think they ought to be done as she did…that is, if you know the facts and have the ability to tie the fly in “true Rangeley Style.”

Thanks to my friend, Lance Allaire of Maine, for sending these pics to me.

Gem – A New and Unknown Carrie Stevens Pattern

Two different people sent me this photo over the weekend of an unknown (as far as I know), carded  Carrie Stevens bucktail pattern. Obviously, it is her card, her handwriting, and her fly. And very interesting in that fly is is a similar design to the FRS Bucktail patterns she originated for her friend and client of her guide husband, Wallace Stevens. The client for whom the FRS bucktails were created and named was Francis Reast Smith, 1873-1950.

Here is the pic of the Gem:

Gem bucktail, created and tied by Carrie G. Stevens of Upper Dam, Maine.

Gem bucktail, created and tied by Carrie G. Stevens of Upper Dam, Maine. This hook is a variation from her standard use of the Allcock 1810 Regular Heavy Sproat turned-down eye streamer hooks that she normally used. Not sure what it is, but it is known she used some Mustad hooks similar in design to the Allcock 1810 after World War II.

By zooming in on the image, I was able to ascertain that the head is red with a black band, and there is a tag on the fly, though it is impossible to determine the color of it. Perhaps if I made another image, cropped it to the tag, and them zoomed in and maybe lightened the brightness I might be able to find that out. That’s a little detective project for later on…

This is also interesting for another reason: chenille was like, never used on any of Carrie Stevens’ other named and well-known and known, but unfamiliar patterns. On the tag, it is very likely that it is a silver tinsel, because of all her named and known patterns, give or take a hundred-plus, she used gold tinsel on only five of them. Upon close inspection, the profile of the tag seems to indicate that it is oval tinsel as well, presenting the use of another material that she did not use on the dressings of her standard Rangeley Style streamers.

Don’t forget folks, you can click on the image to enlarge it, and another click will make it even bigger Check it out!

The topping appears to be green hackle fibers. Body is yellow chenille, and the wing is white bucktail over red bucktail. I’m sticking my neck out a bit and am calling the tag oval silver tinsel, without having made the aforementioned detailed investigation.

To my regular followers…I have a major life-change event on the horizon…all good. Moving on and forward from some of the negative residual of my ill-fated second marriage which ended almost four years ago. I have been very busy with all that. At some point I will be more in control of everything and will be able to focus on more regular writing here as well. I send my heartfelt thanks to all of you for your patience and devotion.

I will be at the International Fly Tying Symposium in November, the 22nd and 23rd, in Somerset, New Jersey.

Queen of the Waters – Carrie Stevens Streamer Pattern

Mary Orvis Marbury’s book, Favorite Flies and Their Histories, 1892, contains information on the wet fly pattern, Queen of the Water. It is pattern No. 195, and the information begins on p. 351 in her book.

Marbury writes, “The Queen of the Water is credited to both Professor John Wilson (“Christopher North”) and his brother, the naturalist, Professor James Wilson.” The Wilson brothers were from Scotland. John Wilson also created the Professor wet fly in 1820. It is plausible to assume that the Queen of the Water wet fly pattern is nearly as old.

Marbury also writes of a possible connection between the Professor and Queen of the Water, the Professor without the scarlet ibis tail, being very similar to the Queen, except for the palmer hackle on the body of the latter, and a minor variation of the body color.

Additional text in Favorite Flies continues: “It is claimed by old fishermen the Professor fly was originally made without the bits of scarlet ibis representing the stylets of an insect, and many experienced fishermen of today cut these fibres of ibis feather off, while others consider the fly useless without them. If, as is asserted, the Professor was first made without them, then there was very little difference between the Professor and the Queen of the Water, except that the body of the latter is of a darker shade of yellow, almost an orange, and the hackle is wound the entire length of the body; therefore it is reasonable to assume the two are only variations of the original fly, which in time came to be known as two distinct patterns.” Most anglers refer to the Queen of the Waters with an “s” on the end.

The Carrie Stevens version of the Queen of the Waters streamer was published in Forgotten Flies, Complete Sportsman, 1999. In the chapter titled, The Rangeley Region, Carrie Stevens, and Beyond, there is a fold-out photo gallery page that includes an original Queen of the Waters streamer tied by Carrie Stevens. This fly was another of her wet-fly-streamer conversion patterns, yet the book, Carrie Stevens: Maker of Rangeley Favorite Trout and Salmon Flies, Stackpole Books, 2000, by Graydon and Leslie Hilyard, does not include the Queen of the Waters. Furthermore, the reproduced Queen of the Waters Stevens pattern in the text and photos of Forgotten Flies varies from the photograph of the Stevens original. The reproduced pattern recipe includes a belly of white bucktail, with a body of flat silver tinsel. Careful study of the photo of the original Queen of the Waters tied by Carrie reveals a body of orange floss with a tag and ribbing of flat silver tinsel. That makes more sense as well, in comparison to the orange floss body on the original wet fly pattern. The old adage, “Seeing is believing,” is relevant in this case. My choice is to believe what I see, rather than place trust in written text that conflicts with what is clearly visible to the eye. The fact that there exists a photograph of an original Queen of the Waters streamer pattern originated and tied by Carrie Stevens, offering the opportunity for visual inspection is good enough for me.

Here is a photo of my rendition of the Queen of the Waters, still in my vise:

Queen of the Waters streamer, Carrie Stevens pattern.

Queen of the Waters streamer, Carrie Stevens pattern. The lighting and image may not be great, but it’s kind of like “mood lighting,” or how things may sometimes appear when viewed in dim light.

Queen of the Waters - the hook is a size #2 - 8x long - gaelic Suptreme Martinek / Stevens Rangeley Style Streamer.

Queen of the Waters – the hook is a size #2 – 8x long – Gaelic Supreme Martinek / Stevens Rangeley Style Streamer.

Queen of the Waters

Considering the facts presented above, the recipe for Carrie Stevens Queen of the Waters streamer according to the photo of her original pattern is:

Tag: Flat silver tinsel

Ribbing: Flat silver tinsel

Body: Orange floss

Throat: Brown hackle fibers

Wing: Four white hackles

Shoulders: Gray mallard

Cheeks: Jungle cock

Head: Black with an orange band

This topic is the result of one of my subscribers in England writing to ask if I knew any history of a Queen of the Waters streamer pattern. I had remembered the pattern being included in Forgotten Flies, and we exchanged some correspondence on the subject. The end result was I decided to tie this pattern and post it here. Thank you Darrell!

Queen of the Waters -

Queen of the Waters – tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Forgotten Flies lists the head band color as red, and while it is difficult to confirm this from the photograph of Carrie’s fly, I believe the band is orange, which again, seems to go hand-in-hand with the body color of her version of this traditional wet fly pattern.

By the way, the recent Stevens streamers published here, the Donald Bartlett series, and this fly, have head cement of clear Pro Lak (available in Canada). It seems to go on with no bubbles and no discoloration, but it does take five coats. That is worth the time if it holds up well.

Brook trout and landlocked salmon seem to be attracted to many predominantly white streamers and bucktail patterns. I have never tied (or fished) this pattern prior to tying this first specimen shown here, but like so many other flies, it would most likely fish well.

Don’s Delight – Carrie Stevens Pattern

Just so you all don’t think I’ve lost my marbles and turned this blog into Wild Kingdom – Cogan Station, with all the recent deer sightings and fawn births, I am posting the Don’s Delight, a Carrie Stevens pattern, as promised, “before too long,” from a few days ago when I posted the Don’s Special.

The Don’s Special was one of three streamer patterns that Carrie G. Stevens, of Upper Dam, Maine, created for George Donald Bartlett. Don Bartlett first visited Upper Dam in 1909 at the age of nine. He made annual trips there for thirty-six consecutive years until his untimely death in 1945 at the young age of forty-five. Don was from Willimantic, Connecticut, as were a couple other notable Carrie Stevens friends, customers, and guide clients of her husband, Wallace. These included Frank Bugbee, for whom Carrie never created a fly, but it was he who thought of the name, Gray Ghost, for Mrs. Stevens most famous fly, indeed, the most famous streamer ever created, bar none. The third individual was Alfred “Allie” French, for whom Carrie created the Allie’s Delight and Allie’s Favorite.

I mentioned not too long ago that among thirty-five Rangeley style streamer patterns I have recently created, one of my patterns, designed in honor of Frank Bugbee, is called Bugbee’s Ghost. I promise to tie Bugbee’s Ghost and get it on here “before too long.” As part of that collection, I have also tied my original patterns – Carrie’s Ghost and Carrie’s Killer. They have been sitting here for weeks, patiently waiting for their photo shoot.

On to the Don’s Delight:

Don's Delight - hook is a Gaelic Supreme Martinek / Stevens Rangeley Style sttreamer. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Don’s Delight – hook is a size #1 – 8x long, Gaelic Supreme Martinek / Stevens Rangeley Style streamer. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Two card-mounted Don's Delight streamers. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Two card-mounted Don’s Delight streamers. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

 

Don's Delight - tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Don’s Delight – size #1 – 8x long, tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Don’s Delight

Thread: Black or white Danville 3/0 Monocord or Uni-Thread 3/0, for under body build up on larger hook sizes, 6/0 can be used on smaller hooks

Hook: Any standard long-shank streamer hook, sizes #1 to #8, 6x to 10x long.

Tag: Flat silver tinsel

Tail: Red hackle fibers

Body: Flat silver tinsel

Throat: White hackle fibers

Wing: Four white hackles

Shoulder: Golden pheasant tippet

Cheek: Jungle cock

Head: Black with a red band, finished with Danville #100 Black and #56 Red Flymaster 6/0

The Don’s Delight, as a predominantly white streamer pattern, is an effective baitfish imitating fishing fly.

YThese are the three patterns Carrie Stevens created for Donald Bartlett: Top to bottom: G. Donald Bartlett, Don's Delight, and Don's Special

This photo presents the trio of patterns Carrie Stevens created for Donald Bartlett: Top to bottom: G. Donald Bartlett – #2 – 8x, Don’s Delight – #1 8x, and Don’s Special – #2 – 8x. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

 

Don’s Special – Carrie Stevens Pattern

The Don’s Special is one of three patterns created by Carrie G. Stevens of Upper Dam, Maine, in the 1930’s or early 1940’s for her friend and guide client of her husband Wallace, George Donald Bartlett. Don, as he was known, was extremely proud of the fact that Carrie named three flies after him, this according to his daughter, Lucy Bartlett Crosby.

The Don’s Special is very similar to another Stevens pattern, the Blue Dragon. Here, I must interject: The Blue Dragon, in the photo of an original tied by Carrie Stevens in the Graydon and Leslie Hilyard book, Carrie Stevens: Maker of Rangeley Favorite Trout and Salmon Flies, 2000, is quite clearly shown wearing the blue hackles on the outside of the wing, though the written recipe in Hilyard’s book has the blue hackle inside the outer wing of grizzly. I have studied the photo of Carrie’s Blue Dragon fly with a magnifier, and also asked several other fly tiers their opinion on the wing of the Blue Dragon. We all concur that the hackle order of the wing on the Blue Dragon, inside out, is: gray, grizzly, blue. This also makes so much more sense for the pattern name, Blue Dragon, as opposed to the placement of grizzly hackles on the outside of the wing. Finally there is a very noticeable difference in the appearance of the Don’s Special when compared to the Blue Dragon. Both patterns in the Hilyard book are Stevens originals; the Blue Dragon is obviously quite blue in its overall color scheme, while the wing of the Don’s Special is predominantly grizzly.

The other two patterns Carrie named after Don Bartlett are the Don’s Delight and the G. Donald Bartlett. I recently posted the G. Donald Bartlett, and I will follow up here on my blog before too long with the Don’s Delight. All the Carrie Stevens patterns I post here are placed in my Carrie Stevens Pattern Dictionary category, under the heading category of Streamers and Bucktails. Don’t forget to use the Search Tab when you may want to locate something here on my blog.

All three of the Bartlett patterns are part of a set of Carrie Steven’s Collector’s Edition Flies that I package and sell on MyFlies.com. http://www.myflies.com/Carrie-Stevens-Streamer-Patterns-Collectors-Edition-Set-No-6-P785.aspx

Here are some photos and the recipe:

Don's Special - tied and photographed by Don Bastian. The hook is a Gaelic Supreme Martinek / Stevens Rangeley style streamer, No. 2 - 8x long.

Don’s Special – tied and photographed by Don Bastian. The hook is a Gaelic Supreme Martinek / Stevens Rangeley style streamer, No. 2 – 8x long.

Don's Special - card-mounted. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Don’s Special – card-mounted. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian. (Note: that’s not my current phone number). It is: 570-998-9124.

Don’s Special

Hook: Standard long shank streamer hook, 6xl to 10 xl, size #1 to #8

Thread: Depending on hook size, heavier thread such as Danville 3/0 Monocord or Uni-Thread 3/0 may be used for the underbody beneath the tinsel. The advantage of using heavier thread on the hook shank is a quicker build of the thread underbody because fewer thread wraps means faster tying. Since this pattern has a tinsel body, black thread could be used. The Uni is much heavier than the Danville 3/0 due to inconsistencies of the aught thread rating system among thread manufacturers. For accurate thread ratings refer to the Denier system.

Tag: Flat silver tinsel

Tail: Yellow hackle fibers

Body: Flat silver tinsel

Throat: Yellow

Wing: Two blue hackles, flanked on each side by two gray hackles flanked on each side by two natural grizzly hackles

Cheeks: Jungle cock

Head: Black with a red band

The wings were cemented beforehand using Elmer’s Rubber Cement. I have found this the best cement to use. It is inexpensive, readily available, it lasts underwater, – and I know because of a 36-hour soaking experiment, and it is durable – because of three-hundred violent hand shakes of rubber-cemented wing after aforementioned 36-hour soaking. It does not bleed through, it sets quickly but not too fast, and it can be used right from the bottle without the time of leaving it sit to “cure” as some cements / tiers prefer to do with other brands of cement or nail¬† polish, until it reaches the “desired consistency.” I tend to build my streamers wings from the inside out. I prefer to cement them, after 48 years of fly tying, as opposed to assembly separately as illustrated in my DVD Traditional Streamers and Bucktails, 2007, Bennett-Watt Entertainment. http://www.myflies.com/DVD-Traditional-Streamers-and-Bucktails-P622.aspx

Don's Special -

Don’s Special – tied and photographed by Don Bastian.