Golden Doctor – Classic Wet Fly

The first time I ever saw or heard of the Golden Doctor wet fly was in Trout, 1938, by Ray Bergman. Along with the Silver Doctor it was an attractor pattern, and like the recently posted Fletcher wet fly, it has a three-color married tail. Between that fancy tail and the red and blue goose shoulder “splits” over the gray mallard wing, the Golden Doctor is another beautiful, yet little known classic wet fly. I recently discovered in doing research for my upcoming book, Favorite Fishing Flies – 1892, that the Golden Doctor is an older pattern than I previously realized. Reading through Favorite Flies and Their Histories, 1892, by Mary Orvis Marbury, I found some text where Mary mentions the Golden Doctor, so that means it dates at least to the early 1890’s. My guess is that the pattern is even older than that. I have always liked the Golden Doctor, it is another very beautiful wet fly. The color combinations of materials, the claret hackle and the red head, all make for a dashing pattern. Here is a photo and recipe for the Golden Doctor:

Golden Doctor wet fly -

Golden Doctor wet fly – dressed on a Mustad #4 – 3906 standard wet fly hook. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Golden Doctor

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 #56 Red

Tail: Red, yellow, green – married

Body: Flat gold tinsel

Hackle: Claret

Wing: Gray mallard flank, with splits of red and blue goose shoulder

Head: Red

I used two full mallard flank feathers, paired, that is, a left and a right, and cut opposing sections from each feather, then I mounted the slips with the tip down, the wing curving downward in the traditional 19th century style. The claret hackle was wound from the tip of a schlappen feather, several turns. These feathers make great collar hackles, because the stems are so fine and flexible.

This is yet another pattern I confess to having never fished, but how could you not? Just look at it, the colors and form are perfect for brook trout and land-locked salmon.

Advertisements

Fletcher – Classic Wet Fly

One of the little-known wet fly patterns from Trout, by Ray Bergman, is the Fletcher. It is not a particularly complicated pattern to tie, except for step two: the tail. It has a married tail consisting of three components. This element gives the Fletcher a special attractiveness and eye-appeal. I admit to never fishing the Fletcher, but I have tied a good number of them over the last fifteen years. I think that is something I should rectify – fish this fly. I’m sure it would take trout and land-locked salmon.

This fly is one of six that is part of an order for a customer in Alberta, Canada. He has ordered five dozen wet flies for fishing, and six wet fly patterns, tied on #4 hooks, mounted, boxed, and signed for his collection. The Fletcher is the second pattern in this series of six, the Parmacheene Belle from the other day was the first pattern in this six-pack. I also intend to post the photos of the fishing flies on this order.

Here’s the photo of the Fletcher:

Fletcher wet fly -

Fletcher wet fly – dressed on a Mustad #4 – 3906 standard wet fly hook. Tied and photogrpahed by Don Bastian.

Fletcher

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 #100 Black

Hook: Standard wet fly hook, #2 to #10

Tag: Flat silver tinsel

Tail: Red, yellow, and guinea fowl – married

Hackle: Grizzly tied palmer

Body: Black floss

Wing: Brown mottled turkey

The recipe in Bergman’s Trout calls for a gray hackle, tied palmer, but study of the color plate, recognizing artist Dr. Edgar Burke’s attention to detail, and the fact all the flies for the color plates in Trout were painted from actual samples, the hackle on the plate image is clearly painted as grizzly. I married the tail with duck wing quill and guinea fowl wing quill. Wet flies with a palmer hackle have plenty of action in the water. I need to tie some of these to fish with.

Alexandra Wet Fly

The Al4exandra Wet Fly - from the 1893 Orvis Display

The Alexandra Lake Fly – from the 1893 Orvis Display in the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vermont. This fly is 120 years old. The hook size is approximately a 1/0. Note the whole light brown mottled turkey quill wing under the peacock sword. This previously unknown full quill wing is just one tidbit of actual fly pattern component discovery that I have unearthed during my research for my book, Favorite Fishing Flies – 1892. The turkey wing on the Alexandra has seemingly been missed from most, if not all fly pattern sources where this pattern was published for over one-hundred years.

Alexandra

Tag: Flat gold tinsel and red floss

Tail: Peacock sword fibers

Ribbing: Oval silver tinsel

Body: Flat silver tinsel

Hackle: Chinchilla (grizzly that is mostly white), or grizzly

Wing: Light brown mottled turkey with peacock sword topping and red splits

Head: Red or black

The Alexandra is pattern number thirty-six of the Lake Flies in Mary Orvis Marbury’s 1892 book, Favorite Flies and Their Histories.

J. Edson Leonard’s Recipe for the Alexandra:

Tag: Flat gold tinsel * (see footnote)

Tail: Peacock sword fibers

Tip: Flat gold tinsel * (see footnote)

Ribbing: silver

Body: Gray floss

Hackle: Gray dun or badger

Wing: Peacock sword, red splits

* J. Edson Leonard in his 1950 book, Flies, lists the tip as a “red floss tip, gold tag,” while this is his own definition of a tip: “A tip is any winding such as floss or tinsel located immediately behind the body and may or may not be accompanied by a tag, which is always under the tail fibers, whereas the tip always encircles the tail fibers. Alternately, Leonard defines a tag as: The tag is a narrow winding of silk, tinsel or fur located at the rear of the body and under the tail fibers.” He elaborates further: “…not synonymous with “tip” which, although disputed by some authorities, is always in front of the tag winding and immediately behind the body.”

Leonard’s own line drawing, Figure 7, p. 37 in Flies, shows a contradictory labeling of “tip” and “tag.” The fly on Figure 7 shows a two-part tag and no tip, even though the front floss portion of the tag is labeled as the “tip.” I am going to go with his written definition, as it makes more sense, even though this is one of the rare occasions that I choose to place more trust in what I read rather than what I can see. I love J. Edson Leonard’s book, Flies, don’t get me wrong on that. It is very detailed and covers a ton of material. Yet there are mistakes in his fly pattern recipes taken from Mary Orvis Marbury’s book plates, that I have discovered according my visual inspection and study of the actual flies that were used for the painted color plates in Marbury’s Favorite Flies.

I listed the tag, tip, and tail on Leonard’s recipe according to his written definition of the material placement, though this contradicts further with the Marbury / Orvis published pattern, from which Leonard reputedly took his recipe for the Alexandra.

According to Mary Orvis Marbury’s writing in Favorite Flies and Their Histories; the Alexandra “was originally named by General Gerald Goodlake ‘Lady of the Lake,’ but this name was afterwards abandoned in favor of Alexandra.” The Alexandra takes its name from Princess Alexandra of Great Britain. Marbury considered that the Alexandra “may not properly be called an artificial fly, being intended as a vague imitation of a minnow, and was originally recommended to be cast and played minnow fashion just below the surface of the water.”

“The pattern was invented by Doctor Hobbs a number of years ago, and it came into great favor with English fishermen; indeed, it was believed to be so taking that its use was forbidden on some streams. The favorite method was to allow the line to run with the current, and then draw it back up stream by short, sudden jerks that opened and closed the hackles, giving a glimpse of the bright, silvery body.” (Note Leonard’s body of gray floss).

Marbury also wrote: The Alexandra is “preferred on large hooks, and is used for trout in deep, dark waters, or for black bass, for either of which it is frequently effective, owing probably to its likeness, when being drawn rapidly through the water, to a tiny minnow.”

My family and friends have found the Alexandra to be a particularly effective pattern for brook trout and landlocked salmon in Maine. My niece Emily also had success one year right over the hill from my home on Pennsylvania’s Lycoming Creek, trailing an Alexandra behind a Wooly Bugger. On that Memorial Day afternoon in 2006, Emily landed seventeen trout, and just three fish took the bugger. The remaining thirteen trout were taken on the Alexandra, Yellow Sally, and Parmacheene Belle. Guess nobody told those browns and rainbows she caught that they weren’t supposed to eat classic brook trout flies.

This writing is a sampling of the fly pattern information that my research has turned up in my work on writing my first book, Favorite Fishing Flies – 1892. The book is in the final phase of completion.

The Fly Fishing Shows – Marlborough and Somerset

Here is an update for my schedule at the Fly Fishing Shows in Marlborough, Massachusetts; and Somerset, New Jersey. Due to my health issue this fall and through December, I was not even sure I would be able to attend these two shows, though I certainly wanted to. As things have turned out, my health has improved enough that I will be at the Marlborough Show all three days, from January 18 – 20.

At Somerset, due to the full schedule of tiers and filled tables, I will not be tying and demonstrating at that show until sometime after noon on Saturday. My friend Bob Mead, realistic fly tier of New York, has offered to share his half table with me from that point on. I’ll be tying next to Catskill dry fly wizard Dave Brandt. I also have my laptop and will be running a continuous slide show of the original book plate Orvis flies from Favorite Flies and Their Histories by Mary Orvis Marbury, at both shows. Please stop by, say hello, chat, and ask for a demo. I hope to have the materials to tie wet flies of course, some Carrie Stevens streamers, some BXB Extended Body Slate Drakes, and maybe even my Floating Caddis Emerger. Just to do something a little different. I wanted to get a bunch of those done but again, due to my health, I had orders for MyFlies.com that took priority. Of course, anyone wanting to, may place a fly order at either show.

I will also be at the Lancaster, Pennsylvania show on March 2 and 3. Below is another Orvis fly from the 1893 Museum Display:

Blue Jay pattern, with American jay wings.Orvis also uses the Eurasian jay for this pattern.

Blue Jay pattern, with American blue jay wings, from 1893 Orvis Display that was presented at the Chicago Exposition. Orvis also used the Eurasian jay wing feathers for this pattern. Not the best photo, a bit blurry, but hopefully decent enough to present the pattern. The color is fairly good. This was a Lake Fly pattern. The slide show pics will be much better.

Campbell’s Fancy Wet Fly

This 1/2 dozen is the Campbell’s Fancy wet fly. They were part of an order I received from a fly shop here in my home state of Pennsylvania, Fishing Creek Angler, where I’ve done business and custom tying for over ten years. Considering the small #10 hook size, I altered the dressing slightly by changing the normally used golden pheasant crest to yellow hackle fibers, and the usual wing of teal breast feathers to guinea fowl fibers. Here is the recipe for the Campbell’s Fancy:

Campbell’s Fancy

Hook: Standard Ox long wet fly hook. These are Mustad 3399.

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6+/0 #100 Black

Tail: Golden pheasant crest or yellow hackle fibers.

Hackle: Brown tied palmer. It’s always a good thing to make a few additional wraps of thread at the head of the fly.

Body: Gold tinsel

Wing: Teal flank feathers, guinea fowl was used in this variation.

Added April 12, 2012,edited June 25, 2013: This was the very first post I made when I began my blog. I did not know much about blogging then, or even better, “What’s a blog?” That was where I was. This has progressed very nicely in three years, and I am grateful to my subscribers and regular visitors for that. Thank you!