Classic Wet Fly – Tying Class

Last March I taught a classic wet fly class at Eldredge Brothers Fly Shop on Rt. 1 in Cape Neddick, Maine. Please check their link on my Fly Shop link list on the right. I hope they will invite me back this year; well, next year, since it would be in 2014. It’s a good possibility they’ll want me to return, since this year’s class booked full with thirteen students in less than two weeks when announced in October. Moreover, people registered on a cancellation list, and then more people were turned away because the waiting list was “a mile long.” I heard all this through eight or nine people who I spoke to at the Marlborough Fly Fishing Show and at the L. L. Bean Spring Fishing Expo, who informed me they wanted to sign up but were too late. It’s gratifying to have affirming interest like that pertaining to one’s avocation.

I have wanted to post a review of that class here on my blog, but like other topics, there is only so much time in a day, and each day seems to slip by faster than the one before. Is that me, or does time really speed up?  I intended to post each individual fly pattern and recipe for interested persons, but I’m having some trouble with my camera. Seems it will not function properly on “TV” mode, aka “Shutter Speed Priority” setting. I was forced to shoot these images on “Auto,” consequently I lost all control over depth-of-field. After previewing the individual images, I decided they are not up to my usual standards, so they won’t be included here, sorry folks. Moreover the mom-and-pop camera shop where I bought my camera has since gone out of business, a victim of “big-box store” competition.

One thing I hope to accomplish with this post was to review my itinerary and maybe have interested persons, fly shops, or organizations consider booking me to teach a class. That’s what I do, in part, to earn my living. So I hope everyone realizes that fact without me seeming to be “too commercial” or “too much like a used car salesman.”

I have also recently started teaching private fly tying lessons here at my home. This can be for a day or two, accommodate one to three persons, and include meals and lodging if desired. Depending on time of year, some fishing can also be included. Topics available are classic dry flies, classic wet flies, 19th century wet flies – including traditional tying styles of snelled and snood wet flies on authentic antique blind-eye hooks, traditional streamers and bucktails, specializing in Carrie Stevens unique Rangeley method of streamer component assembly, and general tying of all-round fishing patterns, nymphs, drys, emergers, and soft-hackles. I have almost fifty years of fly tying experience, and thirty years of teaching fly tying classes. All materials are provided for my private lessons. Please contact me for more information.

The class at Eldredge Brothers originally was to include nine wet fly fly patterns, but with experienced students in attendance, we moved along a bit ahead of schedule. The Coachman was tied to demonstrate a point in response to a student question, and when we finished about forty minutes early, I added the Parmacheene Belle as the final pattern after the student’s unanimous vote.

The list of flies included the teaching of Helen Shaw’s seven different wet fly body components; chenille, dubbing, floss, herl, quill, tinsel, and yarn. A variety of four different wing-mounting methods was included, as well and multiple methods of hackling. The patterns started out with the simplest ones first, gradually progressing in complexity, presenting increasing difficulty, and concluding with the Ibis and White, Armstrong Fontinalis, since everyone loves the Trout Fin fly patterns, and the Parmacheene Belle. You’ll also note on the Reuben Wood that I included a pattern with a gray mallard wing, since that seems to be a frequent question.  In addition to goose and duck quill wings, we also included wings of turkey wing and tail feather sections.

Below is a photo of the flies from the class:

Alder, Brown Turkey,

Starting at top row, left to right: Alder, Brown Turkey, Coachman, Black and Silver, Black Quill, Reuben Wood, Captain, Forsyth, Ibis and White, Armstrong Fontinalis, and Parmachenne Belle. All flies are dressed on #6 hooks, Mustad 3366 straight eye, except for the Coachman, it’s on a #3399 Mustad, and the Parmacheene Belle is on a #4 – 3399 hook. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

The Alder is supposed to have a wing of brown mottled turkey, but I had plenty of gray turkey, so we used that instead, since my objective in tying this pattern, besides this being a herl-bodied fly, it  was more about preparing and mounting the softer turkey wing than about having the exact color. I have mailed these flies off to Jim Bernstein, shop manager at Eldredge Brothers, and I believe they will eventually be published on their web site. These are all good fishing flies, they were historically, and still are today.

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