A Weekend With Carrie Stevens

Been gone too long, sorry about that, lots of reasons, none bad. 😉 No time to even explain, not that it would be necessary. 🙂

Here is my next professional engagement; I am one of seven featured fly tiers at a special event being held at the Outdoor Sporting Heritage Museum in Oquossoc, Maine. The dates are June 26, 27, 28. Here is the facebook page link for those of you on facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/events/940130296038129/

And here is the link to their website / events page:

http://rangeleyoutdoormuseum.org/rangeley-outdoor-museum-events.asp

Check this out! The other tiers are Leslie Hilyard, co-author of “Carrie Stevens: Maker of Rangeley Favorite Trout and Salmon Flies;” Peggy Brenner, Selene Dumaine, Sam Kenney, Peter Simonson, Chris Del Plato, and Ted Patlen. Graydon Hilyard will also be present. Lots of cool stuff scheduled for the weekend. Leslie Hilyard will be deconstructing an original Carrie Stevens streamer, and there is going to be a raffle for a Carrie Stevens original streamer, and much more!

I have not been fishing. Don’t even have a license yet… Been busy tying flies, was behind on my orders, and still am a little bit. Playing in the band frequently. Absolutely loving that! Next Thursday, June 4th, the band has 8 gigs in 17 days, and we start with a 4-day run, playing June 4, 5, 6, 7 at local venues. Three outdoor gigs. Here’s the band website in case you want to divert your fishing interest for a few minutes.

http://www.pepperstreetband.com

Mary and I will be spending a couple days at Lakewood Camps before the event, and then “local” at the Pleasant Street Bed & Breakfast in Rangeley.

http://pleasantstreetinnbb.com/

http://www.lakewoodcamps.com/

And to give you some eye-candy, here are two Carrie Stevens patterns tried by my Maryland friend, Bill Shuck:

Green Beauty Streeameer, tieed by Bill Shuck.

Green Beauty Streamer, tied by Bill Shuck.

Queen of the Waters, tied by Bill Shuck. This pattern is not in the Hilyard book, but is in Forgotten Flies. An original tied by her is photographed.

Queen of the Waters, tied by Bill Shuck. This pattern is not in the Hilyard book, but is in “Forgotten Flies.” An original tied by her is photographed.

 

Ontario In March – Fly Tying Classes and Demos

Everything is official now. I am heading to Ontario on Thursday, March 12, and presenting a fly tying class that evening at Grand River Outfitting and Fly Shop in Fergus from 6 – 9 PM. Here is the information posted on the event on the Grand River Outfitting and Fly Shop website:

www.http://ontarioflyfishing.ca/event/gro-presents-don-bastian-grand-river-caddis-patterns/

The class will feature all of my original caddis patterns: The Hatching Caddis Adult, Hatching Caddis Pupa, Floating Caddis / Mayfly Emerger, Floating Caddis Pupa, plus two more proven and deadly caddis larva patterns. These flies, if you have them in your box, will certify your readiness for most any caddis hatch / situation you encounter. Just have a range of sizes and colors… 😉  And here is a link to the shop: www.http://ontarioflyfishing.ca/

Mary and I will be meeting part-time shop employee, guide, instructor, and good friend, John Hoffmann for a relaxing afternoon and dinner before the class.

Friday evening, March 13, I am presenting a fly tying class at First Cast Fly Shop in Guelph, from 6 to 9:30 PM.

Here is a link to the event at First Cast:  http://www.thefirstcast.ca/event/don-bastian/

Rates and reservation information is now posted for both shop classes. The Niagara Region Flytyers Event has a few remaining tickets for sale to the public, at $20 each.

Saturday March 14, I am presenting a fly tying demo in St. Catherines, for the Niagara Region Flytyers Club, to be video -played on a TV screen, time of this demo is from 11 AM to 4 PM. There will be a couple breaks in this five-hour session. One highlight of the classes and demo will be the tying of Bastian’s Floating Caddis / Mayfly Emerger. Specific information about the patterns in these sessions can be obtained from the fly shops. As yet I am not certain that the event in St. Catherines is open to the public.

Bastian's Floating Caddis Emerger.

Bastian’s Floating Caddis Emerger. This pattern and its variations will be part of these sessions. This fly is deadly. One of my customers posted on the Orvis site, “it should be illegal.” 😉

During and after these classes, Mary and I will be hanging out as the guest of my close friend Rick Whorwood, who resides in Stoney Creek, Ontario, a suburb of Hamilton. We have been close friends for twenty-five years. Rick is a fellow musician of sorts; he has “some guitars” and recently bought a vintage 1967-ish Rogers Drum set, champagne sparkle pearl. He started taking drum lessons recently and while he is learning fast – he used to drum back in his teenaged years – he wants me to show him some of my chops. 😉 Mary plays guitar as well, and she’s a heck of a good singer, so I think the two of them might be doing a little jamming. Maybe even the three of us…

My vintage 1975 English-made Premier Powerhouse 2500 drum set...prior to the start of a local gig.

My vintage 1975 English-made Premier Powerhouse 2500 drum set…prior to the start of a local gig.

This is going to be a great trip! Anyone interested in these classes, please feel free to let me know in the comment section.

Kelley’s Killer – Carrie Stevens Pattern

A year or so ago, I posted the Kelley’s Killer as presented in the Carrie Stevens book, “Carrie Stevens: Maker of Rangeley Favorite Trout and Salmon Flies,” 2000, by Graydon and Leslie Hilyard. I tied three of them according to the recipe presented in their fine book. As it turns out there is another version of the Kelley’s Killer, tied by none other than the “First Lady of Rangeley Streamers” herself (my own play on words), Mrs. Carrie G. Stevens. My friend Jim Kennedy, bought an original Kelley’s Killer tied by Carrie Stevens, last year at the Somerset, New Jersey, Fly Fishing Show. This fly is an eye-opener. It is a “full-dress” version of her streamer tying, identical to the famous Gray Ghost in every single component. Tag, ribbing, body, hackle, wing shoulders, and here is where it gets interesting: Peacock herl underbelly, golden pheasant crest underwing, plus a golden pheasant crest to finish off the throat. Like I said, it is identical in each single part, to the last detail, as her Gray Ghost. The only things different are the materials and the colors. Here you go:

Kelley's Killer, original streamer tied by Carrie G. Stevens.

Kelley’s Killer, original streamer tied by Carrie G. Stevens. Note also the wing, not silver badger as listed in the Hilyard book, but golden  badger over lavender. Also the additional differences: Golden pheasant crest underwing, peacock herl underbelly, golden pheasant crest on the throat.

This makes me wonder. I know the Hilyards did extensive research and had very high standards on the process to certify “original” patterns by Carrie Stevens. Did she later add the extra components to this fly to schmaltz it up? One thing is sure, I like this one better than the one presented in the Hilyard book. Nothing against them at all, I love their book! But seeing an original, as opposed to a replicated pattern tied by someone other than the originator of the pattern; even if well-researched; well, I’m putting my money on this version that I see with my eyes as the “official” Carrie Stevens Kelley’s Killer. It could be as Chris Del Plato suggested, a variation of the pattern. But what a variation it is. More pics:

Kelley'dsd Killer, this is aan original streamer dressed by Carrie Stevens. Photo by Don Bastian. Fly courtesy of Jim Kennedy.

Kelley’s Killer, this is an original streamer dressed by Carrie Stevens. Photo by Don Bastian. Fly courtesy of Jim Kennedy.

Head, shoulder, and card macro, Kelley's Killer tied by Carrie G. Stevens of Upper Dam, Maine.

Head, shoulder, and card macro, a size #2 Kelley’s Killer tied by Carrie G. Stevens of Upper Dam, Maine.

Kelley's Killer - dressed by Carrie Stevens. Photo by Don Bastian. From the collection of Jim Kennedy. Hook size #2.

Kelley’s Killer – dressed by Carrie Stevens. Photo by Don Bastian. From the collection of Jim Kennedy. Hook size #2.

Kelley’s Killer – Carrie Stevens Recipe:

Body: Flat silver tinsel; * differs from Hilyard version of orange floss w/silver tinsel ribbing

Underbelly: 4 – 6 strands peacock herl; * additional from Hilyard version, followed by white bucktail

Throat: Lavender fibers, followed by a golden pheasant crest feather curving upward; * both components differ from Hilyard version

Underwing: Golden pheasant crest as long as the wing, curving downward; * additional from Hilyard version

Wing: Two lavender hackles with one slightly shorter golden badger hackle on each side; * golden badger differs from silver badger on Hilyard version

Shoulder: Tan-tipped Amherst pheasant feather

Cheek: Jungle cock

Head: Black with orange band

In all, this Kelley’s Killer tied by Carrie Stevens has six different components compared to the Hilyard pattern.

Last but not least, my humble version of the Kelley’s Killer, pattern recipe from the Hilyard book:

Kelley's Killer - Carrie Stevens pattern, dressed and photographed by Don Bastian.

Kelley’s Killer – Carrie Stevens pattern, dressed and photographed by Don Bastian. From a couple years ago; this was before I learned that the hackle, underbelly, underwing should all be the same length as the wing when dressing Carrie Stevens patterns according to her design specifications. “Ya’ don’t just tie the fly any old way and assume it is a correctly-dressed Carrie Stevens pattern.” – I said that.

And a threesome of Kelley’s Killers, all dressed by me: Better things to come in the new, expanded, and I’ll make certain, properly dressed to Mrs. Stevens’s Rangeley Streamer specs Kelley’s Killer soon to be tied:

Three Kelley's Killers, a Carrie Stevens original pattern,  tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Three Kelley’s Killers, a Carrie Stevens original pattern, tied and photographed by Don Bastian. They all need longer bucktail underbellies.

And the head and shoulder macro:

Kelley's Killer - head, shoulders, and cheek. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Kelley’s Killer – head, shoulders, and cheek. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Jim did give me permission  to “fix” the fly. The wings were crooked. So I did. Before the pics. I told him that steaming the fly would restore it. Indeed. He said when he got it back it looked better than when he bought it. How cool was it for me to hand-hold a Carrie Stevens original? Very! Thank you Jim!

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.

Spring Creek – Again

I paid a short visit to Spring Creek last evening. After all I was in the area for something else, and figured while nearby, why not? Turns out my friend Bill Shuck, a regular www.flymphforum.com tier, mentioning to me in an e-mail yesterday about the “cold front” putting the trout and bugs and fishing “off,” was right. There wasn’t much happening.

The high temperature for the day was barely sixty-five degrees, and the sun never even poked its head out, not even for a minute. I thought the sulfurs would be hatching gangbusters and trout would be up everywhere, but only in my dreams. I had driven down to State College to attend a visitation session for Gloria Humphreys, the wife of one of Pennsylvania’s celebrated fly fishing authors, Joe Humphreys. They were professional and personal friends. Gloria passed away on May 20th.

So after paying my respects I drove to Spring Creek, found a spot, geared up, and tied on my usual two-dry-fly tandem rig, a Sulfur Poly-wing Parachute Dun and my Floating “Sulfur” Emerger – which as noted in the article and links from my previous post, started its life in 2006 as a Floating Caddis Emerger. Orvis added it to their fly catalog in 2013, and have continued it for this year as well. http://www.orvis.com/store/product.aspx?pf_id=7R6A[/

I discovered two years ago that the same pattern, augmented for size and dubbing color, also does a “spot-on” mimic for emerging mayflies. At least that is the conclusion I have drawn, after hooking well over one hundred trout on that fly last season and this season, all while fishing the “sulfur” hatch.

I walked downstream to a slower, deeper section of water and watched for rising fish. Nothing was happening, there were no rises. I gave it all of one minute, which on Spring Creek at this time if year and time of day, if they are rising, I would have seen a dozen or more trout up. So I walked upstream, knowing what my next course of action would be, but for confirmation, I said aloud to myself, “If there are no trout rising, I’m going to fish the riffs and pocket water. No sense of fishing a pool with no rises.” Yes, I do talk to myself, sometimes it is the only way I can get expert advice. 😉

I stepped into this spot:

I entered the water just below this spot, got some line iout, and when I was only about four feet from the bank, started feeding line downstream to a deeper section.

I entered the water just below this spot, got some line out, and when I was only about four feet from the bank, made a cast downstream and started feeding line to a deeper section. A trout rose to the Floating Sulfur Emerger on the first drift, but he missed the fly. I caught one trout in about eight inches of water maybe three feet from shore. When a lot of fishermen are about, they usually scatter the trout from these shallow sections…for a little while at least. Most anglers don’t bother with this water, they are “pool oriented.” Their mistake. The area between the two rocks, not twenty-five feet away, produced two hookups and three additional rises.

Next I worked my way up to the area in the above photo, standing in water about a foot deep, and by this time I had not moved more than fifteen feet from the bank. I blindly cast about to the pockets, seams, and into the riffles, relying on experience as to where might be a good spot for a trout to be. None of this water was more than a foot or so in depth. Right away I caught this fish:

This first trout took the Floating Sulfur Emerger.

This first trout took the Floating Sulfur Emerger. He hit the fly when it was about eight feet from my rod tip. You can see the front end of the fly in his mouth. I hooked two more right after this one on the same fly, but they wanted no part of having their picture taken, so they rather rudely excused themselves by making my line go limp.

I rose and missed more than a dozen trout in the course of the evening, and it is important here to note; why I chose to fish the shallower water, pockets, seams, and riffs. There were no trout rising in the pools. I did not want to waste my limited time by “looking for rising trout.” The fish in shallower water are generally always more prone to impulsive feeding when something presents itself, even on the surface. These fish are accustomed by now to looking for sulfur duns and spinners, and also Baetis, or BWO’s, so that was my logic behind the choice to fish dry flies in the shallow water. Plus, I could get close to the trout with out spooking them, able to make accurate presentations, short drifts through targeted zones, repetitive if necessary, all while making pretty short casts. Also a factor besides this, there were trees hugging both banks and extended limbs so I had to keep it short. Managing your drift is easier when casting to close range target areas; most of the time I had about six to ten feet of fly line beyond the rod tip. My leader was about eleven or twelve feet long, including the typical George Harvey front-section formula of about six feet of 3x, 4x, and 5x. In this type of water, and in most dry fly scenarios, one does not want the leader to straighten out, but rather remain somewhat coiled and snaked about on the water’s surface in S-curves. This promotes drag-free drifts. George Harvey’s leader designs are from the 1940’s, when gut leaders were still used, and his formulas predate the present “Czech”, “French,” “Euro,” whatever you choose to call it, leader designs, that are being touted these days as “new.” In fact, one of these days, I’ll write a piece on the reality of every single aspect of this “new” method of nymphing – rods, leaders, flies, technique, all being as old as the hills. It’s all hype and marketing.

I saw just a handful of trout rise, and I did not have a great evening on the water, but I had a good evening on the water. Most of the trout that rose took, or tried to take, the Floating Sulfur Emerger, but a number did come up after the dun as well. Another thing I noticed; there were more Baetis in the air than anything else. This is typical – chilly, all-cloudy day, that is what they like. I saw duns on the water and in the air, but perhaps Bill was correct; the cold front had put the trout “off.”

Here is a pic of the first trout to take the sulfur dun:

First trout of the evening on the Sulfur Poly-wing Thorax Dun.

First trout of the evening on the Sulfur Poly-wing Thorax Dun. This fly is a modified design of Vince Marinaro’s Thorax Dun; the poly-wing version was created by Barry Beck. I made further material composition modifications, particularly the use of the Sexi-Super-Dyna-Flexi Floss for the “quill body” abdomen, and I generally use poly yarn for the wings rather than the old “Poly-Fluff” or Hi-Vis” – now called E.P. Fibers he used to use.

Here is an upstream shot of the section I fished:

Section of riffles, pockets, seams 0- shallow, but the trout are here.

Section of Spring Creek riffles, pockets, seams – shallow, but the trout are here. Note the larger exposed and submerged boulders – structure – these create breaks in the stream flow, “seams” where currents of two different speed intersect – creating holding areas for trout, allowing them comfort while having the ease of opportunity to intercept drifting food items. Work these areas properly, either with a nymph or a dry fly, and it’s Game On!

Here is another important point I want to make: In the comment thread from the previous article, Bill Shuck mentioned about how more than once he had been on Spring Creek and spooked the largest trout in the stream just by stepping into the water, because sometimes big trout are near the bank, even in shallow water.” Most of us look for the trout where we expect them to be. Happened to me last night. We all probably spook more trout like this, because while we think we’re pretty good angler / predators, we really don’t pay attention enough of the time. If I had been looking, I would have seen a brown trout about nineteen inches long, up ahead of me, on the right, in just eight inches of water, so close to the bank that the long grass slightly overhung his position. When I was about twelve feet off, of course looking and casting out into the stream, his take-off made a resounding splash, a plume of silt, and a large wake as I watched him scoot off.

Right then, I gave myself a little more “expert” advice; by saying aloud, “Expletive. If I had been looking for that fish, I would have seen him first and been able to make a couple casts.” Here is one more pic of a trout that liked my Sulfur Dun:

Spring Creek 5-29-14 006Enjoyable evening on the water. I learned a few new things, got more affirmation of some of the things I already knew, even entertained myself by singing a little bit while fishing, and had a good time. This is about catching fish though. Don’t let anyone fool you by summing up a poor day or few hours on the water, saying, “It’s just good to get out.” That is, in fact, true. But realistically, how many of those people would continue to fish if they got skunked, again, and again, and again, and again…hardly any of us would go out if we couldn’t hook up now and then.

Hopefully you found a few informative and educational things here and among the other articles on my blog to help you get “tight lines” on future trips.

Slate Drakes – aka “Isonychias”

Fall fishing is a time of year when aquatic insect activity is minimal compared to the spring hatches. Therefore any hatch activity at all is usually met with anticipation and eagerness by the trout. Oftentimes windy weather and or rain will dislodge terrestrials from trees and bank-side vegetation; these include inchworms, ants, beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, bees, caterpillars, and spiders. This activity can be sporadic, heavier at some times than others from resulting conditions; consequently autumn dry fly fishing with terrestrial patterns can be effective. Beetles, ants, and my original Floating Inchworm pattern are my fall favorite terrestrial patterns. Among the buffet of terrestrial activity, there are still a few aquatic insect fall hatches that we anglers can take advantage of. One of my favorite mayflies in the spring, the Slate Drake, or Isonychia bicolor, also begins to emerge in the fall as the second brood of this species begins to hatch in mid-to-late September. Common in the Eastern United States on freestone waters, Slate Drakes can run almost to the end of October, often providing a near-exclusive aquatic insect match-the-hatch, dry fly fishing opportunity.

Floating Inchworm - extended body designed and tied by Don Bastian. The hook is a #16 Tiemco 2488, short shank,wide gape. This is a great fall terrestrial searching pattern.

Floating Inchworm – extended body designed and tied by Don Bastian. The hook is a #16 Tiemco 2488, short shank, wide gape. This is a great fall terrestrial searching pattern.

The first hatches of Isonychia bicolor in spring begin as early as mid-may and continue through July, sometimes sporadically, but there can be periods when these large, dark, slate-and-brown colored mayflies emerge in fairly heavy numbers, inciting trout to feed vigorously on the emergers and duns. The Slate Drake Spinner is also a significant element of this hatch and should not be overlooked. Typically these nymphs migrate to the shallows, but the nymphs living in large streams and rivers far from shore simply emerge from the water when their hatch time is ready.

A Slate Drake dry fly pattern in various styles is a good dry fly searching pattern whenever they are in season, but they are especially good in the fall when competition from other hatches is not as intense as the spring and early summer. Some traditional Slate Drake dun patterns include the White-gloved Howdy and Dun Variant. I like my BXB (Bastian Extended Body) Slate Drake Thorax Dun, Parachute, and Spinner patterns better than any other pattern style for this hatch. I’ve been fishing these patterns for nine years with wonderful success. Below is a photo of my BXB Slate Drake Thorax Dun pattern, still wet after it was removed from the jaw of an eighteen-inch brown that confidently took it on Big Pine Creek in May of 2012.

BXB Slate Drake Thorax Dun pattern. The hook is a size #14 but the fly is actually what would normally be considered a #8 or #10.

BXB Slate Drake Thorax Dun pattern. The hook is a size #14 but the fly is actually what would normally be considered a #8 or #10. The length of the pattern not including the tails is a good 3/4″ to 7/8″ in length. This fly was knotted to 4x tippet because I was fishing a fairly heavy riffle section, and I expected to encounter big trout. I did!

And here is a photo of that trout:

18-inch brown trout taken on my Extended Body Slate Drake Thorax Dun pattern, Big Pine Creek, May 2012.

18-inch brown trout taken on my Extended Body Slate Drake Thorax Dun pattern, Big Pine Creek, May 2012.

Here is a nineteen-inch brown I took fifteen minutes after the fish shown above:

19-inch brown taken on Big Pine Creek,May 2012, on my Slate Drake Thorax Dun pattern.

19-inch brown taken on Big Pine Creek, May 2012, on my BXB Slate Drake Thorax Dun pattern.

This article started off with the intention that it would be only about Slate Drake nymphs, but it obviously morphed into a work to also include dry fly patterns. These insects are large, often requiring size #8 hooks. That size may sound too large to some anglers, but if you consider the actual body length of a Slate Drake dun and compare it to the shank length of a standard dry fly hook, that’s what you would need to use. Too many fly anglers dislike large drys; they don’t know what they are missing by not using them. Large imitative or attractor dry fly patterns like the Fan Wing Royal Coachman or Royal Wulff can really stir up some excitement on the water. I’ve read the words of some writers who say that the fall Slate Drakes are as small as a size #14, but I personally have never seen a Slate Drake that small in my life. I would not tie this pattern smaller than a size #12 standard hook length for fall fishing, and I have full confidence fishing my large extended body patterns that imitate the spring hatches of the Slate Drake. Though I generally dress them on a #14 Tiemco 2488 hook, these flies are the equivalent size compared to a standard dry fly pattern in a size #8 or #10. Some of the same line of thinking by other fly tiers and anglers expresses surprise at my devotion to size #14 Sulfur patterns for Spring Creek, when most other anglers fish #16’s. Heck, I’m just imitating the actual size of the bugs I see on the water. And it’s not that #16 Sulfur dry flies don’t take trout, but a larger fly is easier to see under most conditions, and floats better. Most importantly, it works!

Here are two similar Slate Drake nymph patterns; the first one was tied by my friend Bill Shuck, of Jarretsville, Maryland. Below that are photos of the same pattern that I tied. Bill made a couple modifications because he did not possess all the same materials that my recipe calls for.

This is essentially the Slate Drake nymph pattern conceived by my friend Dave Rothrock, but I made a few modifications to it in the interest of making it tie easier and faster.

Slate Drake Nymph - tied and photographed by Bill Shuck.

Slate Drake Nymph – tied and photographed by Bill Shuck.

Here’s a side view:

Side-view - note the bulge of the wingcase proflie

Side-view – note the bulge of the wing case profile. This is Dave Rothrock’s pattern design, with some tying modifications, but the use of poly yarn for the wing case is Dave’s accurate material usage to simulate the natural high wing-case profile of the Isonychia nymphs. This imitative design is a “strike-trigger” to the trout. Tied and photographed by Bill Shuck.

Isonychia / Slate Drake Nymph – Bill Shuck version

Here is Bill’s list of materials in order of tie-in::

Hook: Daiichi 1760, Size #10
Thread: Uni-Thread 6/0, black
Tail: Three natural grey ostrich herl strands, trimmed short
Rib: Pearsall's Gossamer silk thread, brown, doubled and twisted
Median stripe: Uni-Thread 6/0, white, doubled and twisted
Over Back: Medallion sheeting, dark dun
Abdomen: Blend of hare's fur, 50% claret/25% brown/25% black
Wing case: Black poly yarn, two strands
Thorax: Same dubbing as abdomen
Legs: Badger hen cape feather barbs

Bill wrote me in his e-mail with the recipe: “All typed out like that it seems like too much stuff to
bother with, eh?”
To which I replied, “Not when you consider how well this pattern works. The extra tying time 
pays off."

Today, Monday morning, two days after I initially published this article, Bill sent me another 
Isonychia nymph pattern, this is the same fly with the addition of a single strand of natural ostrich
herl wound as a rib. 
Isonychia nymph variation - tied with natural gray ostrich herl gills. Tied and photographed by Bill Shuck.

Isonychia nymph variation – dressed with natural gray ostrich herl gills. Tied and photographed by Bill Shuck.

Slate Drake Nymph - tied and photographed by Don Bastian.
Slate Drake Nymph – tied and photographed by Don Bastian.
Slate Drake Nymph - top view

Slate Drake Nymph #10 – 2x long – top view. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Isonychia / Slate Drake Nymph – Don Bastian version

Hook: #10 - 2x long nymph hook, or 3x long TMC 200R or Dai-Riki 270
Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 #100 Black, or #73 Dark Brown
Tail: Three fibers of natural ostrich herl
Median Stripe: Danville Flymaster 6/0 #1 White
Ribbing: One strand of Uni-thread 6/0 Dark Brown
Overback: Black scud back 1/8”
Abdomen: Haretron Dubbing #16 Dark Brown
Gills: Abdominal dubbing picked out and trimmed parallel to body.
Wingcase: Black polypropylene yarn, two strands
Thorax: Haretron #16 Dark Brown
Legs: Natural mottled hen back, short and sparse
Head: Black
The main design of this pattern goes to my friend, Dave Rothrock, guide, and fly tier, from Jersey 
Shore, Pennsylvania. He uses a stripped cream hackle feather for the median stripe; the use of
thread is obviously a huge time-saver. I also use ostrich herl strands from anywhere along the 
stem, Dave uses only the tips, which are limited in number on any feather or bundle of ostrich
herl. I can make several sets of tails from just three strands of ostrich. I cut the tips at an angle with
my scissors, trimming only the outside edge of the barbs.

I also chose to change the dubbing to Haretron; my reason is that the increased density of fine fibers – 
under fur and the Antron – makes it easier to pick out the gills. Dave’s use of poly yarn for the wing 
case is a stroke of genius in imitative pattern design. Its bulk simulates the natural profile of the live
nymphs. This is a trigger-point for the trout and significantly contributes to the inducement of strikes,
if not being the primary reason that trout take this pattern with voracity.
Below is a photo of my Slate Drake Parachute Dun:
Don Bastian's BXB Slate Drake Parachute Dun.

Don Bastian’s BXB Slate Drake Parachute Dun.

Any of these pattern can be ordered by visiting my product pages at MyFlies.com: http://www.myflies.com/BXB-Slate-Drake-Set-P741.aspx

or the Slate Drake Nymphs may be ordered by visiting my Custom Order page: http://www.myflies.com/Don-Bastians-Custom-Fly-Orders-P750.aspx

If you get a chance to venture out for some fall fishing, most streams in the Eastern United States have Isonychia populations – be prepared, and have some of these patterns to fish with.

I meant to include these photos yesterday when I wrote this post…the wordpress format was having “issues,” giving me technical difficulties, and I forgot. Here is a soft-hackle Slate Drake Flymph tied and photographed by Bill Shuck:

Isonychia Flymph - tied and photographed by Bill Shuck.

Isonychia Flymph – tied and photographed by Bill Shuck.

Here is the recipe for this pattern:

Isonychia / Slate Drake Flymph

From Bill: “This was a pattern that I posted on the Flymphforum in April 2012. The vintage hook is one given to me be a friend in Virginia, and the European hare dubbing was dyed by another friend who lives in Holland, the same guy I hosted for two weeks this past spring and who gave me an excellent 5 wt. bamboo rod he made himself.

Hook: Vintage Mustad 3913B. Size #12

Thread: Pearsall’s Gossamer silk thread, #14 claret

Hackle: Medium dun hen saddle

Tail: Three moose body hairs

Body: European hare dyed claret, spun in a dubbing brush with claret silk thread

Nice that you got a bamboo rod for hosting your friend! Such a deal!

I close this with image of a half-dozen Slate Drake Nymphs:

Slate Drake Nymphs, tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Slate Drake Nymphs, tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

And one final shot, lined up in a row:

#10 3x long Isonychia - Slate Drake Nymphs. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

#10 – 3x long Isonychia – Slate Drake Nymphs. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian. These are dressed on Montana Fly Company Curved shank straight eye nymph hooks, #7002 Stimulator Hook.

Barnes Special Streamers – One Dozen

The Barnes Special is a classic Maine streamer pattern that was among six featured on my 2007 DVD, Traditional Streamers and Bucktails. http://www.myflies.com/DVD-Traditional-Streamers-and-Bucktails-P622.aspx

I recently got a custom order from MyFlies.com http://www.myflies.com/Don-Bastians-Custom-Fly-Orders-P750.aspx

for a dozen Barnes Special streamers for a fellow heading to Maine later this month. I also tied the Barnes Special for Streamers365.com. There are several archived posts here featuring the Barnes Special, (you can go to the search tab and type the name in, then hit “enter” and locate the older posts), but I thought the new and different twist with this post would be to show the completed order of a dozen streamers. And I also decided to add the photos of the completed bodies, something I generally do when tying streamers of the same pattern, make the bodies ahead of time as part of a separate production run.

Here are the bodies:

A dozen streamer hooks, sizes #4 and #6, "bodied up" ready for tcompletion of the rest of the pattern. The hooks are Gaelic Supreme Rangeley style streamers,

A dozen streamer hooks, sizes #4 and #6, “bodied up” and ready for completion of the rest of the pattern. The hooks are 8x long Gaelic Supreme Rangeley style streamers. The tail is two paired jungle cock body feathers, as ore the original recipe by C. Lowell Barnes, a Maine guide in the Sebago Lake region.

The bodies were whip finished and head cemented. Here are the dozen patterns, placed pretty much as I dropped them in preparation for insertion into plastic sleeves.

One dozen Barnes Special streamers, sizes #4 and #6.

One dozen Barnes Special streamers, sizes #4 and #6. Tied by Don Bastian.

I have posted the recipe on the archived topics with this pattern, but I have included the recipe here as well.

Barnes Special

Hook: 6x or 8x long streamer hook

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 #56 Red; black or any color may be used for the bodies.

Tail: Two jungle cock body feathers, paired, just a tad over the hook gap in length

Ribbing: Oval silver tinsel

Body: Flat silver tinsel

Underwing: Sparse red bucktail followed by sparse white bucktail, to end of tail or a very short distance past tail

Wing: Two yellow hackles flanked on each side by two grizzly hackles

Hackle: White, tied as a collar

Head: Red

The heads have four coats of clear ProLak cement, though I sometimes use a single coat of Wapsi Red lacquer coated with clear lacquer. The yellow hackles were selected from a saddle and the grizzly hackles came from a cape (or neck). The tinsel body is medium sized Mylar, double-wound by starting at the head, winding back, then forward. This provides better coverage and is more durable. The white collar hackles were made from schlappen feathers, using the tip sections, chosen for proper barb length. Schlappen feathers are great for this because of their very small stem diameter and flexibility, and also the softness and webbing of the barbs. When tying this and other streamer patterns with bucktail bellies or underwings, it’s best to keep the hair sparse. Here is a macro of a single fly:

Barnes Special, size #4 - 8x long. All flies tied by and photographed by Don Bastian.

Barnes Special, size #4 – 8x long. All flies tied by and photographed by Don Bastian.

The Barnes Special is still a very popular streamer pattern in Maine. These are going to a customer in Wisconsin, who is heading to Maine later this month. I wish him luck and success with these streamers!

One final group shot, set up in nice rows:

One dozen Barnes Special streamers - sizes #4 and #6.

One dozen Barnes Special streamers – sizes #4 and #6.

Thank you for the order Scott! Tight lines on your trip!