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.

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Comando Streamer – Percy Tackle Company

My friend, Alec Stansell, in Massachusetts, sent me this picture of a streamer pattern that was previously unknown to me. It’s an original carded fly from the Percy Tackle Company, formerly of Portland, Maine. Percy’s Tackle received plenty of mentions in Joseph Bates’ Book, “Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing,” 1950, 1966, 1995. I like sharing this kind of vintage, classic information on our fly tying heritage with my readers, so here it is:

The Comando:

 

Comando Streamer, carded and sold by The Percy Tackle Company. Gardiner Percy was the company founder.

Comando Streamer, carded and sold by The Percy Tackle Company. Gardiner Percy was the company founder. Photo courtesy of Alec Stansell.

The recipe:

Comando

Tag: Flat silver tinsel

Tail: Red hackle fibers

Ribbing: Flat silver tinsel  – this is very tarnished, but at my suggestion Alec did a little fly tying archeology with his bodkin, scratching a small section of the surface to reveal the silver tinsel rib 😉

Body: White angora or spun rabbit fur

Throat: red hackle fibers

Wing: Two brown hackles over which are one black hackle, slightly shorter

Cheek: Jungle cock

Head: Black

Thanks Alec for sharing this photo with me!

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. 😉

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.

Wet Fly Wing Mounting Methods

I have recently received a number of questions on setting wet fly wings and thought this older post was worth reblogging, so here it is. The main point I make is that there are four ways to mount wet fly quill wings.

Don Bastian Wet Flies

Questions about wet fly wings are often raised with particular reference to the appearance of quill wings on the finished fly. Many years ago I learned to tie wet flies using a winging technique which is probably the most traditional method. My earliest wet fly tying followed Ray Bergman’s instruction in his book Trout. In the chapter “On Tying Flies” he presented the following method: “For wet flies, place the two even and concave edges together, with the tips pointing inward and touching each other.” This method faces the top, or dull side of the quill slips together.

Study of historic sources of wet fly dressings indicate that normally the barb sections which form the wings are tied in with the tips pointing up. The line drawings and Dr. Edgar Burke’s accurate color plate wet fly paintings in Trout clearly confirm the tip-up style. When tied in this way the…

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Guess Who Came to the Show?

This is pretty cool. On Saturday November 22nd, at the 24th Annual International Fly Tying Symposium in Somerset, New Jersey, a man came to my table. He was intently eyeing my flies, moving back and forth, from one end of the table to the other. Finally the customer I was speaking to departed, so I devoted my time to this fellow. He was a fine looking man, and well dressed, casual. I’ll move ahead in this story for a moment, but after he left my table, my girlfriend, Mary, said, “That guy looks so familiar. I think he’s a newscaster.” Well…

The thing that was fascinating and interesting, was our conversation, which was driven by the questions he asked. This man knew full well, about Carrie Stevens, about Rangeley streamers, about the 19th-century B-Pond wet fly, and even Lucius A. Derby, for whom Carrie Stevens created a memorial streamer pattern in 1942, based on the B-Pond wet fly.

Our conversation covered details about the Masonic Lodge in Lowell, Massachusetts, named after Lucius A. Derby. According to the book, “Carrie Stevens: Maker of Rangeley Style Trout and Salmon Flies,” by Graydon and Leslie Hilyard, she made seventy-five of these streamers, which were presented to the Lodge members at the memorial service for Lucius A. Derby in 1942. He knew all about this.

He then asked about the “four known brook trout fin wet flies,” to which I replied, “Actually there are six historic trout fin patterns.” I had a Riker Mount with all six, so I got it out and showed the man. Brook Fin, Trout Fin, Brookie Fin, Bergman Fontinalis, Fontinalis Fin, and Armstrong Fontinalis. Michigan angler, fly caster and fly tier, Phil Armstrong, created the last three.

I also had my six original trout fin wet fly patterns; based on classic style, they are: Olive Trout Fin, Hemlock Trout Fin (previously published), and the Gold Trout Fin, Silver Trout Fin, Rainbow Fin, and Brown Trout Fin. There is one more original but I can’t think of it now.

He was there a good twenty minutes. The conversation was active, engaging, and never slowed for a minute. This man was knowledgeable beyond most of the fly tying / fly fishing folks who stop by my table. We also talked of Carrie Stevens fly tying. I had a Kelley’s Killer original, an image of the fly, tied by her, on my digital camera, so I got the camera out and showed that image to him as well. We discussed its components, differing greatly from the pattern in Hilyard’s book. It was one of those kind of exhilarating meetings that you remember.

We never did figure out who he was until we were at the bar that evening. Mary kept saying, he looked so familiar, but she could not remember his name. All of a sudden, I stated, I’m seeing an “image of the guy wearing a bow tie.” Kind of a page in my mind that just turned. She googled, “news correspondents who wear bow ties” – and BINGO!

Tucker Carlson – of Fox News. Formerly of CNN and MSNBC. Kind of made my day, after the fact. It was impressive that he was so knowledgeable about historical aspects of fly fishing and fly tying. Cool stuff!

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Rangeley Lake Flies

Earlier this fall, I tied an order for a customer going to Upper Dam in the Rangeley Region of Maine to fish for brook trout and land-locked salmon. He told me to select the patterns, so I thought it only appropriate to choose the flies for his trip from among the famous, historic, heritage Lake Flies, some of which were listed in Mary Orvis Marbury’s 1892 book, Favorite Flies and Their Histories. These flies were in the Orvis inventory, and also for sale by other firms, such as Abbey & Imbrie, who went out of business in 1920.

I tied them on size #6 and #8 Mustad hooks, though I did use contemporary wet fly hooks, in this case, Tiemco #3769, 0x-long wet fly hook. The reason for that is that vintage wet fly hooks such as the #3906 and #3399 Mustad, and other hooks such as Partridge, Allcock, Nyack and others, while they make great-looking wet flies, the contemporary hooks are in my view, better for fishing flies. This is due to their manufacture with high-carbon steel, and having chemically sharpened points and mini-barbs. Besides the limited availability of antique and vintage hooks relegates their prudent usage to collector and framed flies.

Here are the pics of part of the order:

A collection of Lake Flies, all originated and / or used in Maine's Rangeley Lakes Region.

A collection of replicated 19th century Lake Flies, all originated and / or used in Maine’s Famous Rangeley Lakes Region. On the left, Montreals; top center, The Tim – named for Tim Pond near Eustis;  right, Richardson, named after Richardson Lake; and center, a dozen Parmacheene Belles in two sizes. The latter was named for Lake Parmacheene, part of the system that the Magalloway River flows out of.

The Tim in Marbury’s book has a black ostrich herl head, but I substituted black rabbit dubbing to replicate the vintage look. This trick also makes for less time and effort where you might otherwise apply numerous coats of head cement to finish the head smooth and shiny. The fly, done this way, with the faux-ostrich dubbed head, looks classic and can be finished – and fished – right out of the vise. On to the next fly…

Rangeley Lake Flies, a bit of a closer image - macro photo.

Rangeley Lake Flies, a bit of a closer image – macro photo.

And finally, The Tim:

The Tim Lake Fly - named for Tim Pond, created in the 1870's-80's...named for Trapper Tim, for whom Tim Pond was named.

The Tim Lake Fly – named for Tim Pond, created in the 1870’s-80’s…named for Trapper Tim, for whom Tim Pond was named. The mallard wing was applied in two sections, basically layering two sections of webby mallard, right over each other. The second, top layer, is folded or tented over the lower portion of the wing.

The Tim:

Tag: Flat silver tinsel

Tail: Scarlet quill section

Ribbing: Oval silver tinsel

Body: Yellow floss

Hackle: Yellow

Wing: yellow dyed gray mallard

Head: Black wool or dubbing, finished with black thread.

I used Danville white Flymaster 6/0 for the body, and switched to black for the head. These Lake Flies were historically tied in larger sizes, #4, #2, #1, even as large as #1/0 and even 2/0 in some cases.

Oh yes, my customer reported success with the flies on his trip. Classic flies, fun to tie, and they still catch fish! See also the recent posts on the Black Prince, where that classic wet fly has tempted brown trout on Pennsylvania’s famed limestone streams, Penn’s Creek and Spring Creek, for two of my customers.

I have another batch that I took photos of, they were part of a second shipment. I’ll get those posted here as well…after the coming week or so of doing things more important right now…

The Black Prince Rides Again

Black Prince 013-1A few posts back, I wrote about a customer who had bought four dozen Black Prince wet flies from me. Well, her success with that old classic pattern continues, and has spilled over to another angler she met on the stream. After her success on Penn’s Creek, I had asked her what size she was using. There is more success to this fish story, since he also ordered some Black Prince wet flies from me, and I wanted to share a few of their notes:

Wednesday Sept. 24:

Mr. Bastian,

“I say again: ALL HAIL THE BLACK PRINCE!!

I was this evening at Fisherman’s Paradise (FP – near Bellefonte, Pennsylvania), and again was successful with the Black Prince. FP is a very difficult place to fish in that the pressure there is enormous. But I am learning; I go there in the evening and not only fish past sundown but past last light into the darkness. They are active at this time. I am there fishing with my Glenn Brackett, 7ft. 3wt. bamboo rod, Hardy “Baby” Perfect, Cortland “Sylk” line and the Orvis 4x braided Bimini leader. The last one I caught was a nice fat 10-inch that gave a really good fight. Just gorgeous. Size you ask? #16.

I AM learning how to wet fly fish!!”

Best Regards,
Jean

And she replied to my initial post about the Black Prince:

Thursday Sept. 25:

“Dear Mr. Bastian,

Very nice post. Getting the word out on actually using Bergman flies is important. And yes you were correct: I fished across-and-down. Very traditional stuff. Perhaps I should be out there with that Leonard Fairy Catskill and that little Hardy St George Jr. Now that’s tradition!”

Jean

And she wrote this note after yet another successful evening on Penn’s Creek fishing the Black Prince:

Sept. 28:

“I must say, Mr. Bastian, that the Black Prince is a really something. I do hope you are fishing with your own flies. (Of course I am, just not often enough – 😉 – Don). As a fitting closure to the evening, a juvenile bald eagle, a trout in his talons, flew over my head. Gorgeous.”

Best Regards,

Jean

On her “Black Prince” outing at Fisherman’s Paradise, she met another angler who lives in nearby State College. Since she was catching fish, he was curious what she was using. Jean met Robert, and they talked flies, they spoke of classic tackle, talked about me, since she has been a customer for a few years now, and I had also spent some time fishing with her in July 2012, and he also wondered where he could get this “killer fly.” She gave him my e-mail address, he placed an order for two dozen Black Prince wet flies, #14, and #16.

Here is a letter he sent just yesterday, Wednesday October 22:

“Your quality of work is just outstanding! I have been treating your flies like little pieces of art that get tossed through the air. Have only used them on the creek in one outing so far, on Spring Creek at ‘The Rock’. I fished them in tandem ( #14 and #16), 45 degrees upstream dead drift until 45 degrees behind me, and then swung them across and used a twitch method until it was directly downstream, followed by a hand twist retrieve. (This is) The method detailed in Ray Bergman’s, Trout (1938, 1952). In two hours I landed six nice fish. Two were on the hot spot, right when they started to drag 45 degrees behind, one really good strike during twitching, and three more on the retrieve. This is such a fun way to fish for me, and I will certainly be looking into more classic wet fly patterns in the future. I will give you a full days report soon.”

Robert
This ought to give you all a few ideas…places to fish, and trout to catch!