Close Encounters of the Trout Kind

From three years ago today, but well worth sharing again. There is some good stuff here, if I may say so myself. 😉
Also in the comments, my dear departed friend, Jack Tokach, shared an amusing story about one of our personal experiences related to this topic. Enjoy again!

Don Bastian Wet Flies

This article developed into a bit of a larger piece, based on my personal years of experience and observations, as a result of my reply to a recent post on Gink and Gasoline. The article has a really long title so I’ll just post the link. I suggest you read this post before continuing here, it will help build my case. http://www.ginkandgasoline.com/fly-fishing/fly-fishing-is-there-a-time-when-anglers-should-admit-defeat-and-move-on/

My personal experience bears out the fact that, as long as a trout keeps feeding, he is not spooked and can be caught. That is where the challenge and appeal to keep trying comes in. Because many trout under the surface of the water cannot be seen from above, most anglers do not realize that a nymphing trout or a trout feeding off the bottom anywhere in the water column will do the exact same thing to your fly that a surface feeding trout does – which we…

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Hackles – Photo Tutorial on What’s What

A quick hackle / photo visual tutorial:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Liar’s Bench at The Angler’s Nook, Shushan, New York

“The Liar’s Bench” post was written almost two years ago, and it is still continuing to grow. In the last two days, I received two lengthy and well-written e-mails from a man in New Jersey named George Nimmo. Mr. Nimmo fished this area for years, and he has proven at once to be an excellent writer, moreover he is a valuable and bountiful source of additional, detailed information on the characters, the original fly shop owned by Ralph Entwhistle, and the history of The Angler’s Nook – a combination fly shop / campground / hangout / diner.

One of the most interesting bits of information on this whole story comes from Kevin Laughton, who lives in Australia and, through this blog article, discovered this topic. An Australian connection? Amazing but true. Mr. Laughton and others took several hundred US soldiers on active duty in Viet Nam fishing in Australia on R&R in 1970. One of the fellows Kevin hosted was none other than Richard Entwhistle, the son of The Angler’s Nook original owner, Ralph Entwhistle.

With a few more e-mails that I’ve saved, Mr. Nimmo’s expansive information, and a photo of Richard Entwhistle in Kevin Laughton’s kitchen in 1970 in Australia with some nice trout…yes, this will one day be a largely expanded article on The Angler’s Nook and The Liar’s Bench.

Please make sure you read through the entire list of comments. It is well worth it.

Don Bastian Wet Flies

I received a fly order through http://www.myflies.com from a customer in Delaware last month. Our back-and-forth e-mail correspondence eventually turned his initial dozen-and-a-half order for my Floating Caddis / Mayfly Emerger into a very nice order, as he kept adding more patterns until his order reached ten dozen, including some sulfur Comparaduns and Thorax Duns, and a few dozen of a pattern by Jim Slattery, originator of the Stimulator, called the Triple Threat Caddis. Here’s a link to Fly Angler’s On Line (FAOL) with that pattern: http://www.flyanglersonline.com/flytying/fotw2/091304fotw.php

The TTC, as I call it, while I’ve never fished it, looks like a great pattern. I’m definitely going to tie some up for my personal fly box. And I had fun tying it. I did them for my customer in tan with orange thread as the FAOL article suggests, a ginger-brown version, and olive. Anyway, to The Liar’s Bench at the Angler’s…

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Online Soft-Hackle Pattern Book

Waterhen and Red Soft-hackle. Photo from Neil Norman's blog.

Waterhen and Red Soft-hackle. Photo from Neil Norman’s blog.

A fellow named Neil Norman sent me a message a couple weeks ago that he had linked his blog to mine. Finally I had time to check it out. I borrowed the image above from his most recent post.

Since I have lots of readers interested in Soft-hackles here, I though I would share this news. I have linked his blog, a Soft-hackle Pattern Book:

http://softhacklepatternbook.blogspot.com/  to mine. The link is listed on the right, here, under “Blog Links” or something like that. You can click from here and get there anytime. 😉 Or better yet, if you like soft-hackles and what you see there, then subscribe and you’ll get e-mail notice of each post he makes.

Mr. Norman is a PhD candidate for English Literature. Dare I say, he writes well, and intelligently. Check it out!

Bastian’s Floating Sulphur Emerger – Part II

After today’s post on my Floating Caddis-Mayfly Emerger I received two requests for tying steps to make this fly. So reblogging this original post; here they are, from my article dated May of 2013. Lots of fishing pics, info on the day, tactical stuff, etc. Note to interested tiers: Both the Orvis version with the wound hackle collar, and the MyFlies.com version with side-lashed legs are here. See the notes on that below the MyFlies.com Hi-Vis Emerger.

Don Bastian Wet Flies

This article is Part II of the Floating Sulphur Emerger pattern. This season on Spring Creek, using my Floating Caddis – “Sulphur” Emerger, I decided to try something new and different; that is; fishing with two dry flies at the same time, in a tandem dry fly rig. I had done that successfully out west in 2006 on the Madison, using my Floating Caddis Emerger trailed on 5x tippet behind a #10 Grizzly Wulff as an indicator fly. I did this so I could see the Emerger on the broken water, plus to provide better visibility and improved tracking of the smaller, flush-floating emerger at distances of forty to fifty-five feet that I was occasionally casting.

On Spring Creek this season, this is the data and fishing report from four trips made on the following dates: May 10th, 17th, 24th, and 30th. Each time I fished there I used two…

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Tomah Joe

Last weekend at the Fly Fishing Show in Somerset, New Jersey, a friend came by and gave me some barred wood duck flank feathers. On Saturday afternoon, I tied this fly for him, a Tomah Joe, dressed according to the original 1880’s recipe. My girlfriend, Mary Fortin, took the picture of it still in my vise with her cell phone. Here it is:

Tomah Joe, tied by Don Bastian. Photo by Mary Fortin.+

Tomah Joe, tied by Don Bastian. Photo by Mary Fortin. The hook is a blind-eye 2/0 antique hook. The red wool head is my personal addition. Oftentimes the heads on these old flies are rather unkempt-looking and unfinished.

Here is a photo I took at the American Museum of Fly Fishing in 2012 of the original fly plate that was used for the artist’s painting for the 1883 book, “Fishing With the Fly,” by C. F. Orvis and A. N. Cheney. The Tomah Joe is on the plate. This image was previously published on my blog.

Tomah Joe, Lake Fly pattern, at top right. This plate of Lake Flies is over 130 years old.

Tomah Joe, Lake Fly pattern, at top right. This plate of Lake Flies from the Orvis Company archives, now in the collection of the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vermont, is over 130 years old. The other patterns are: Bee, top left, No Name, Blue Bottle, Grasshopper, and Webster. This is one of the plates of Lake Flies from the Orvis / Cheney book.

Note the tail on the Tomah Joe is a single yellow hackle feather, not fibers, not a golden pheasant crest as is sometimes seen. Multiple examples of the Tomah Joe in the AMFF in Manchester, Vermont, remain consistent with this component of the dressing. That is why I used the material I did on the tail of the Tomah Joe I dressed at the show.

Tomah Joe

Tag: Flat gold tinsel

Tail: A single yellow hackle feather

Butt: Peacock herl

Body: Oval silver tinsel

Hackle: Scarlet fronted by yellow

Wing: Barred wood duck

Head: tiers discretion

Here is another photo I added via edit just today. A friend in Massachusetts bought this Tomah Joe from me in 2001. The pattern is tied as in Ray Bergman’s book, “Trout,” 1938. Not whole feather tips for wings, but slips of barred wood duck on each side. And yellow fibers for the tail. This is mounted the way I used to do it, put the hook point into foam bits on a card. Now I wire all the flies to the card…makes for a much better appearance.

Tomah Joe, recipe from "Trout" by Ray Bergman.

Tomah Joe, recipe from “Trout” by Ray Bergman.

Have fun!

Flymphs

Some fine work, indeed, by my friend from Jarretsville, Maryland. Bill Shuck tied up this selection of flymphs, just to see how a set of these classic, heritage flies would look boxed up. I’m thinkin’ they look pretty darn good. 😉 This man can tie nice flies! Sweet Bill! Very nice work. I like your type, labeling, and fly arrangement. Thanks for sending me the photo of your work.

A selection of flymphs, tied by Bill Shuck from Maryland. Bill tied the flies, mounted the flies, arranged the flies, took the photo, did the type, the labels, the whole shebang. All I did was post this image off his very fine work.

A selection of flymphs, tied by Bill Shuck from Maryland. Bill tied the flies, mounted the flies, arranged the flies, took the photo, did the type, the labels, the whole shebang. All I did was post this image of his very fine work. Don’t forget, you can click on this, and any other image on my blog, to enlarge it.

And I did send Bill the plastic box for the selection, and gave him some pointers on how to use the foam strips I sent him to git ‘r’ done. Again Bill, nice tying!

Check out Flymphforum.com for more images of these classic, historic, soft-hackle wet flies, for more flies tied by Bill and others.