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!
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Black Prince

The Black Prince wet fly is an old pattern. It is shown on the Lake Flies in Favorite Flies and Their Histories, 1892, by Mary Orvis Marbury. It is also in Trout, 1938, by Ray Bergman. It was a popular pattern and has appeared in other publications as well. The Orvis version has a body made entirely of flat gold tinsel, while the later version in Trout sports a black floss body with a gold tinsel ribbing. Both have red tails, the version in Marbury’s book also has a jungle cock cheek. Hackle and wings on both versions are black, with natural black hackle being used on the original plate fly. I have a photo of that and recognized it as natural black; more of a dark charcoal color.

The reason I am inspired to post this article is that I recently completed an order of four dozen Black Prince wet flies, for a customer for fishing. She wanted them in sizes #12, #14, #16, and #18. The surprising part, not to me, but likely to many of you, is that my customer recently fished Pennsylvania’s famed and reportedly difficult to fish, at times anyway, Penn’s Creek. This is a stream where no stocking is done in a large section of Special Regulation water. The fish are almost all wild, stream-bred brown trout. I received her e-mail message today, as follows:

“ALL HAIL THE BLACK PRINCE!!! A short time ago I had a great afternoon on Penn’s Creek above Coburn with the Black Prince.  I would lay odds that is a fly that has not been seen around here in 50 years!!  And neither have the trout.”
My customer did not specify the size(s) she used, nor did she indicate how they were fished, but it’s a sure bet the flies were simply swung down-and-across. The hooks I used to supply her fishing fly order were modern hooks; I used Tiemco wet fly hooks – #3769. I prefer vintage and antique hooks for display and collector flies; and contemporary, high-carbon steel, mini-barb, chemically sharpened points to get the job done if the flies will be getting wet. Modern hooks are unquestionably better for fishing.
Here is a photo of the version of the Black Prince from Trout:
Black Prince - classic wet fly. The hook size is #6,Mustad vintage style No. 3399.

Black Prince – classic wet fly. The hook size is #6, Mustad vintage style No. 3399. The hackle on this fly was applied after setting the wing, using an old-fashioned technique. This method combines the winged wet with the effectiveness of a soft-hackle.

Black Prince

Thread: Danville Black Flymaster 6/0

Hook: Standard wet fly hook, sizes #2 to #18 – large hooks, full hackle to replicate Lake Fly style.

Tag: Flat gold tinsel

Tail: Scarlet hackle fibers of a section of red duck quill – may be two matching slips paired, or a single slip of duck or goose wing quill, as was done almost exclusively in the 1800’s

Ribbing: Narrow gold tinsel

Body: Black floss

Wing: Black duck or goose wing quill, matched and paired; may also be natural crow

Hackle: Black

It is the tiers discretion to apply the hackle as a false or beard style hackle, or as a soft-hackle collar, which may be wound either before or after placing the wing.

If one desired to replicate the Orvis version of the Black Prince, use fine flat gold tinsel for the tag, make the body from medium flat gold tinsel, use a scarlet dyed quill section for the tail – traditionally in the 1800’s, scarlet ibis feathers were used for this – and add a jungle cock cheek.

Like so many classic wet flies, trout do not see them, and one ace-in-the-hole trick you can tuck up your sleeve is to hit the water with something different than what everyone else is fishing. How about the Black Prince?

Next on my customers custom order – the Grackle, another old classic pattern.