Parmacheene Belle – Revisited

Here is another Parmacheene Belle wet fly. This dressing is correct according to the original recipe written by the originator, Henry P. Wells, in the 1883 book, Fishing With the Fly, co-authored by Charles F. Orvis and Albert Nelson Cheney.

One of the commenters on my last post of this pattern on classicflytyingforum.com, of several weeks ago now, correctly observed that the hackle was a little full, and perhaps too long. (That fly was posted here a couple-three weeks ago). It may have been, especially a tad long, but generally, in the traditional tying style of the period (19th century), hackles were longer rather than shorter, and they were more full, rather than sparse. Tying styles and preferences can change over time, but I am a firm believer in tying and replicating flies in their original dressings and style if possible.

For example, many tiers use goose shoulder for wet fly wings, particularly married wings. My belief is: you have to use goose shoulder, but only for married wings in patterns that also call for turkey. Technically, this does not change the pattern correctness, but in actuality, goose shoulder was not used much for primary wing construction on commercially-tied wet flies of the 19th and 20th centuries. Otherwise, the Parmacheene Belle, for example, and nearly all other married wing wet fly patterns use goose or duck wing quills for the wing. There were some exceptions, as in a married wing pattern like the Munro, Silver Doctor, Lake Edward, and Ferguson, because these patterns also use turkey, which does not marry well to duck or goose wing quill sections. Hence my comment above about marrying goose shoulder to turkey. This is the Prime Directive of Married Wings – “always maintain uniformity of texture as much as possible.” The 19th century “married” wing, or more correctly named, “mixed wing” version of these patterns was generally tied with a full wing of turkey mounted first, then followed with “splits” of other colors; usually of goose shoulder, laid over the wing.

My thought is this: A Black Prince Lake Fly, for example, is properly tied and historically correct with a wing of goose wing quill. When tied with a wing of black goose shoulder, it may look good, but it (goose shoulder) generally gives the fly a “too-low” wing profile, at least when considering it as an accurate representation or rendition of a 19th century classic pattern. The low-swept wing makes it look more like a contemporary  steelhead or salmon pattern, rather than a 19th century fly, which would have the wing at a sharp upward angle of forty-to-fifty degrees. A quick glance at the color plates of the Lake Flies, Bass Flies, and Trout Flies in Marbuy’s book confirms this.

So in my case, until just a few years ago, my personal representation and tying of wet flies was in the 20th century style, with wing-tips up, melded with the divided wing style (formerly my favorite) preferred by J. Edson Leonard, author of Flies, 1950, and opposing Bergman’s method (and the generally accepted traditional method) of mounting wet fly wings with concave sides together. My 2010 wet fly article in Hatches Magazine presented the four different methods or styles of setting wet fly wings. All are correct in my view. More recently I have been somewhat converted to the older looking, more traditional, and more historically correct method of setting the wings with the tip down, giving the wing a slightly lower profile, and a perhaps more pleasing to the eye, sweeping natural curve that starts right at the base of the wing at the tie-in point. This is the result of my observation and study of the display flies from the 1893 Orvis Exhibition in the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vermont, and my good fortune to have been granted access to, and held (while wearing white cotton gloves), examined, and photographed the “holy grail” of the thirty-one actual fly plates that were used for the artist’s paintings for Mary Orvis Marbury’s 1892 epic book, Favorite Flies and Their Histories. There were thirty-two original plates in Marbury’s book, but Plate Z is missing from the museum collection.

The angle and mounting style of the wings was also different in the 19th century. Nearly all wet flies, whether using single or married quill feather sections, whole “spoon wing” feathers, or tips of gray mallard, barred wood duck, bronze mallard, or quill wings with splits, were all tied “reverse-winged.” That is, with the wing tied down, butt ends to the rear, tips pointing forward over the front of the fly, then pulled back over and lashed in place with a half dozen or so wraps. The bulky head of the fly included the visible folded-over butts of the stems or quill sections. This also gave the wings a higher angle relative to the body. This technique was used on blind-eye and eyed hooks, that became increasingly more popular just one year after Marbury’s book was written. John Betts wrote an article about the reverse-wing method in a 1996 article in The American Flyfisher, the magazine of the American Museum of fly Fishing. Well, I’m getting carried away, or free-lancing my thoughts on this topic…

More of this type information will be in my upcoming book, Favorite Fishing Flies – 1892, which includes all 291 of the patterns published in M. O. Marbury’s Favorite Flies and Their Histories, 1892, plus more than 200 additional patterns from the Orvis archives.

Here is the Parmacheene Belle, original pattern version; this is tied on a  size #2, vintage Mustad 3399 wet fly hook.

Parmacheene Belle -

Parmacheene Belle – this version is tied divided wing, “tip-up.” The yellow rabbit dubbing substituted for the original yellow mohair does a reasonable job of imitating the original material. Some later 20th century commercial versions of the Parmacheene Belle eliminated the silver tinsel tag, and changed the butt to black ostrich herl, and the body to yellow floss.

The only recipe change I made is I used yellow rabbit dubbing in place of Wells’ original yellow mohair specified on the body.

In March of this year, I taught an extended weekend fly tying class for Wilson’s Fly Shop of Toronto and Fergus, at a Bed and Breakfast in the lovely town of Fergus. We covered traditional wet flies, Carrie Stevens streamers using her proprietary methods, and on Sunday morning, flies from Marbury’s book. When the subject of reverse wings came up, it was unanimous that the students wanted to try this. The only problem was that the instructor, yours truly, had never done it. Their desires prevailed against my hesitation, so it was agreed that attempting the reverse-wing tying method would be a learning experience for everyone. We tied at least three patterns using this method, and everyone did fairly well with the process, despite it being a totally new experience for everyone.

One of my Canadian friends, John Hoffmann, of Fergus, tied a few patterns for my book. John works part-time for the Fergus location of Wilson’s, and also guides and does some teaching of fly tying and fly fishing for the shop. Besides the bed and breakfast stay where the class was held, John, his wife Cathy, and their Airedale, Gracie, were my hosts for a few extra days. Thanks John, Cathy, and Gracie!

I intend to make the posting of those patterns, my first effort at reverse-winged flies next on my blog – hopefully later this week. Thanks to everyone for your subscriptions and devotion to my writings!

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Brookie Fin – Classic Wet Fly

The Brookie Fin is another of the six (known to me) historic brook trout fin wet fly patterns. This pattern was published in Helen Shaw’s second book, Flies for Fish and Fishermen: The Wet Flies, 1989, Stackpole Books. I uncovered mention of using the brook trout fin for bait in Favorite Flies and Their Histories, 1892, by Mary Orvis Marbury. I remember my dad telling my brother, Larry, and me about that when we fished small mountain streams in northern Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, back about 1961 or ’62. We scoffed. He promptly gave a demonstration; taking a fin cut from a brook trout, impaling it on a hook, swinging it into a small pool, and catching a brookie on the first cast.

Here is an instructional paragraph from Shaw’s book:

“The wing for our Brookie Fin is a built-wing. This time it is made with four strips of different colors of goose, three of which have been dyed. The main strip of the wing is orange. Above it is a narrow strip of red; above that, a narrow strip of black; and over it all you will use a narrow strip of white. The exact number of flues for each color depends on the width of the finished wing for the particular size of hook you are using. The feathers from which you take the strips of flues for the wing also have some bearing on how many or how few you will need. Some goose pointers have wider flues than others. Suffice it to say that the strips of flues above the main part of the wing are narrower by comparison. The four colored strips together should not be any wider than the width of a wing made of a single colored strip.”

Here is an image of a Brookie Fin that I recently tied:

Brookie Fin - classic wet fly pattern from Helen Shaw's book.

Brookie Fin – classic wet fly pattern from Helen Shaw’s book. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Brookie Fin

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 #100 Black

Ribbing: Oval silver tinsel; Shaw’s dressing calls for silver wire

Body: Flat silver tinsel

Hackle: White hackle fibers; Shaw’s original dressing calls for polar bear

Wing: Narrow strips of white, black, and red; married to and topping remainder of orange goose quill sections

Head: Black

Shaw’s formula in the recipe plate for the Brookie Fin calls for making the wing 2/3 orange, and 1/9 each Red, Black, and White. That is accurate, but personally I don’t feel like doing more math than I absolutely have to, especially math with fractions, and when I’m tying flies to boot. I generally use two strips each of white, black, and red, and make the rest of the wing, about 2/3, orange. That’s good for #4, #6, and #8 hooks. On a #2 hook, I’d go with three barbs or flues, and on #10 and #12 hooks, one must use only a single barb each of the topping colors. This type of detailed married-wing wet fly tying is what separates the men from the boys, or the women from the girls. It requires good keen eyesight, and steady hands.

No mention of the origin of the Brookie Fin appears in Shaw’s book, but it is quite likely that she originated it. She concluded her writing on the Brookie Fin with these words: “This is an exceptionally good wet-fly pattern, producing strikes when other patterns may prove to be ineffectual under many fishing conditions.”

About Helen’s book, Paul Schullery, former Executive Director of the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vermont wrote:

“Helen Shaw has long been recognized as one of this century’s foremost fly-tying teachers. With this book, she brings fly tying’s oldest and grandest tradition back to center stage. Not since Mary Orvis Marbury’s Favorite Flies and Their Histories was published nearly a century ago (now 121 years) has the wet fly been so well celebrated in words and pictures.”

The book is out-of-print, but may be found if one looks. The ISBN No. is: 0-8117-0607-9.

Though originally published in 1989, Flies for Fish and Fishermen: The Wet Flies remains as the best wet fly tying instructional book presently available. – Don Bastian.

Fanwing Coffin Fly

A while back I posted a Green Drake Coffin Fly pattern that I developed with the white foam extended body. It was patterned after the Dette Coffin Fly, which has a white body, short-clipped palmered white hackle, teal breast feathers for wings, and a silver badger hackle. A few weeks ago I also had the inspiration to tie that same fly, but instead add the curved, short teal center breast feathers to create a classic, fanwing pattern. I recall that idea came to me by simply noticing a single teal “fanwing” breast feather lying among my fly tying stuff, and as I picked it up and looked at it in my hand, I decided to make my extended body Coffin Fly pattern into a fanwing version. I know, it’s way past green drake time and that won’t come again for another ten-and-a-half months, but I just today added this pattern to MyFlies.com along with my BXB Green Drake Coffin Fly, and I also will be adding the classic Fanwing Royal Coachman as one of my patterns there before too much longer. I seem to be in a mood to tie and call attention to fanwing patterns, and I and some of my customers have had some great fishing this year on my extended body March Brown, Slate Drake, Green Drake, and Yellow Drake patterns in a number of locales in several states, so here is the Green Drake Fanwing Coffin Fly:

Fanwing Coffin Fly

Fanwing Coffin Fly – the imago, or spinner pattern for the eastern green drake, Ephemera guttulata. The hook is a Tiemco 2488 #10. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Fanwing Coffin Fly

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 #4 Pale Yellow

Body: White closed-cell foam, cut into strip about 2mm wide from 2mm sheet

Tails: Three moose body hairs

The Abdomen with tails is made on a mandrel held in the vise; I upgraded to a tube fly jig for this procedure several months ago, but I used to use a simple straight pin or needle. Once the abdomen is made, and I generally make these by the half-dozen at least, usually more, that is attached to the rear of the TMC 2488 hook, just ahead of the barb. But first:

Before mounting the abdomen to the hook, switch tying thread to Danville Flymaster #100 Black, then mount the wings on the hook, just ahead of the mid point of the body. It takes practice to get the wings straight, and they seldom tie on straight, but I discovered a method long ago of using the thread to my advantage. I care not for how they set on the hook; I just want to get them on there, both at once. Once they are mounted, stand them up by damming thread in front of the stem butts, and when they are about vertical, if one or both wings are curved at all to the left or right – which they most likely will be – you start with one feather, post the thread three times taut, but not tight, around the base of that feather. You have to think which way to wrap, because you’re going to use increased thread tension to twist the crooked wing into perfect alignment. This means you have to think and analyze which way you need to spin the feather to straighten it. After posting around the base of the wing, then wrap around the hook shank once, making sure you’re back to clockwise winding, and then pull slowly. The taut, but not previously tight thread will tighten and s-t-r-e-t-c-h around the base of the feather stem, and from this action, the wing feather will twist right or left as needed (and premeditated by the tier, um, that would be you) into the proper position. Repeat this for the other wing, if necessary.

If either wing needs to be turned or twisted to the left, then you post around the base of that stem counterclockwise. If either stem needs to be turned to the right, then you post clockwise. Don’t forget to wrap once or twice around the hook shank before to attempt to tighten the thread to straighten out the wing. It’s a snap. Guess I’ll have to make another video…

After doing this to both wing feathers, if necessary, I then post around the base of both stems together. Doing this means you also have to mount the feathers to the hook with some bare stem on both feathers above the hook and tie-in point. This prevents you from wrapping over any barbs at the base of the wing stems, which if you did, there would be barbs askew at the base of the wings. Not pretty.

Wings: A matched pair of curved teal breast feathers

Body: Black rabbit dubbing

Hackle: Silver badger

Head: Black

This pattern and most fanwings of any size, should be fished on 4x tippet to minimize twisting.

Here’s a front-view of the wings:

Fanwing Coffin Fly -

Fanwing Coffin Fly – front view of divided, over-sized wings, characteristic of fanwing patterns.

Here is a link to the product page for my BXB Fanwing Coffin Fly and this new, Fanwing Coffin Fly on MyFlies.com: http://www.myflies.com/BXB-Green-Drake-Coffin-Fly–P806.aspx

I’m sure some of you will want to see that fanwing tie-in procedure, so I will attempt to make another video, but I’ll also be happy to demonstrate it at any of the shows where I’m appearing. Thanks for reading!

Black Witch – Unknown Austin S. Hogan Original Pattern

Last winter, around February I suppose, a friend from Maine, Lance Allaire, sent me a photo of an unknown streamer fly tied by Austin Hogan. Lance asked me if I knew the pattern, but I did not. In fact I’d never seen it before. I checked several sources but came up empty-handed. He sent it to me thinking I may be able to help. The long story made short is this: I finally thought that Mike Martinek, Jr., of Stoneham, Massachusetts, would be the best person to ask the question of the origin of this unknown streamer. Mike was mentored by Austin Hogan in the late 1960’s, and Mike knows more about Carrie Stevens and Austin Hogan, and many other streamer tiers, both living and dead, of the New England states than probably anyone else alive. Mike thought the pattern was called the Black Witch. I came up with nothing else in a name search, except for some fly pattern of that name in England that is much newer in origin than 1973, as this fly is dated. So I give credibility to Hogan’s Black Witch.

I wanted to tie this fly, and in asking Lance via e-mail one day about the dressing of this pattern, since from the photo he sent me I could not ascertain the presence or content of tail, tag, body, and ribbing, if in fact all these components were present on the fly. I requested if he could check the fly out for me, but Lance did something even better. “How about I send the fly to you?” Lance asked me in his e-mail reply.

“Perfect!” I replied. So I finally got around to tying the pattern a few weeks back, and today I photographed the Black Witch, both Austin’s fly and mine as well, separately and together. Here is the Black Witch:

Black Witch streamer fly -

Black Witch streamer fly – originated and tied by Austin S. Hogan, formerly of Fultonville, New York. The hook is a #6 – Mustad 94720 8x long streamer. The dark stain is where scotch tape was used over the bend of the hook to secure the fly in place. The adhesive of course, degraded over time. Austin’s original signature and date can be seen. The date is 1973, forty years ago.

Black Witch streamers -

Black Witch streamers – above by Austin S. Hogan, originator, and Don Bastian. My streamer is on a Mustad size #4 – 94720 8x long. In tying my first replica of Hogan’s pattern, I wanted to use the same manufacture of hook as his original.

Black Witch tied by Don Bastian, on Mustad #4 - 94720 8x long.

Black Witch tied by Don Bastian, on Mustad #4 – 94720 8x long.

Black Witch

Hook: Standard streamer hook, 6x to 8x long, sizes #2 to #8

Thread: Danville 6/0 Flymaster #100 Black

Body: Flat silver tinsel

Underbelly: Four to six strands of peacock herl, then white bucktail

Throat: Orange hackle fibers

Wing: Four white hackles

Shoulders: Lemon wood duck flank featheras

Cheeks: Jungle cock

Head: Black

I assembled this fly in authentic Rangeley style, cementing the hackles, shoulder, and cheeks together, and I also layered the throat in sections, starting well behind the head as Carrie Stevens did. It was Austin S. Hogan who first deconstructed some of Carrie Stevens flies to see how they were made. He made extensive notes and diagrams of Mrs. Stevens’ methods. Hogan was the first curator of the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vermont. Much of Hogan’s personal collection of fly fishing memorabilia is stored there.

Black Witch tied by Don Bastian.

Black Witch tied by Don Bastian.

Black Witch - tied by Don Bastian.

Black Witch – tied by Don Bastian.

Head, shoulder, and cheek macro image of Black Witch, tied by Don Bastian. I used clearPro Lak cement, several coats, and a final coat of black Pro Lak.

Head, shoulder, and cheek macro image of Black Witch, tied by Don Bastian. I used several coats of clear Pro Lak cement and a final coat of black Pro Lak.

The Black Witch is similar to another of Hogan’s patterns, the Grizzly Prince, except that pattern has an orange tail, and grizzly hackles over the white, but the lower barbs of the grizzly hackles are stripped off on that pattern. That was one of Hogans rather unique techniques, as also expressed on his Black and White Streamer. See Joseph D.  Bates, Jr., book, Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing. Hogan created about a dozen original streamer patterns. They are all listed in the 1996 edition of Bates book.

Pale Morning Dun Patterns

As a companion Four-pack Set to my Sulphur Dun Ephemerella invaria patterns on http://www.myflies.com/ I am also offering the same series of mayfly dun pattern styles for the Pale Morning Dun, which is also in the same Ephemerella genus as the sulphurs, the PMD species being named excrucians.

Since I have personally only ever encountered one PMD hatch, I took some information from the site Troutnut.com – http://www.troutnut.com/hatch/459/Mayfly-Ephemerella-excrucians-Pale-Morning-Dun and I would like to express my thanks for the helpful information presented there. Troutnut has a lot of good, no nonsense aquatic insect information. I recommend visiting that site.

Since the Pale Morning Dun is one of the most widely-ranging and long-lasting hatches of its geographical distribution, I considered the marketing aspect of my fly tying livelihood and decided to offer the PMD in a series of pattern styles as I did for the widely distributed sulphur mayflies of the east and mid-west.

The “PMD’s” are a very eagerly anticipated hatch on many streams, particularly in the mid-west and western US. These mayflies occur with variations in color and size depending on the location, from a #14 to a #18. This offering of four different dry fly pattern types and hook sizes is intended to increase the anglers chances of success when fishing a PMD hatch. Trout can be selective to pattern types, particularly on flat water, so it is beneficial to the angler to be prepared with more than one style and size of dun pattern when fishing this hatch. This proven collection of Pale Morning Dun patterns helps solve the difficulties of fishing PMD drys to finicky trout. All four dun patterns are tied with split tails.

Pale Morning Dun dun patterns, left to right:

Pale Morning Dun dun patterns, left to right: Parachute Dun, Thorax Dun, Comparadun, Quill-body Comparadun, hook sizes here are #14. All flies tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

The PMD Comparadun is a no-hackle pattern that rides low, yet stays  on the surface film. The light natural color deer hair wing is highly imitative and easy to see, and the split tails stabilize the pattern and offer added mayfly realism. Comparaduns land right-side up on nearly every cast. They are an excellent pattern choice for smooth water and moderate riffle currents. This pattern has a slim, dubbed abdomen with a thread ribbing and a more robust thorax, providing a natural imitative mayfly silhouette for increased realism. This design factor helps trigger confident takes from trout.

PMD Comparadun

Hook: Standard dry fly hook, #14 – #18

Thread: Danville Flymaster Light Olive #61

Wing: Natural light deer hair

Tails: Light dun Microfibetts six fibers split 3/3

Abdomen: Light olive rabbit dubbing, abdomen reverse-ribbed with tying thread

Thorax: Light olive rabbit dubbing, built up larger than the abdomen to present a natural mayfly silhouette

Head: Light olive

PMD Comparadun

Pale Morning Dun Comparadun

The PMD Quill-body Comparadun is a personal pattern design variation that has a more realistic body silhouette with a slim, waxy-smooth abdomen that contrasts with the more robust fur-dubbed thorax. The abdomen is made from a synthetic quill material that is highly translucent, and it also floats, thereby adding increased flotation to this pattern. This shade of light olive on the abdomen very closely imitates the natural color of the PMD’s.

PMD Quill-body Comparadun

Hook: Standard dry fly hook, #14 – #18

Thread: Danville Flymaster Light Olive #61

Wing: Natural light deer hair

Tails: Light dun Microfibetts six fibers split 3/3

Abdomen: White Sexi-Floss (aka Flexi-Floss, Dyna Floss, Super Floss, etc.) Winding the white Sexi-Floss over the light olive thread creates a very translucent abdomen. The Sexi-floss is tied in at the thorax. (See my other posts on this topic, use the search tab). The translucent nature of this material allows the thread color to predominate. This stuff is the best synthetic quill substitute available. And, it floats! This increases the pattern’s buoyancy.

Thorax: Light olive rabbit dubbing, built up larger than the abdomen to present a natural mayfly silhouette

Head: Light olive

PMD Quill-body Comparadun

PMD Quill-body Comparadun.

The PMD Parachute Dun is made with the same abdomen of synthetic quill material as the Quill-body Comparadun, and has a dubbed thorax, but it has a poly-post wing and a parachute hackle. The advantage of parachute duns provides a highly-visible, low-floating, imitative design. It is generally considered a better dry fly pattern for fishing riffles, runs, and typically rougher pocket water than the no-hackle Comparadun.

PMD Parachute Dun

Hook: Standard dry fly hook, #14 – #18

Thread: Danville Flymaster Light Olive #61

Wing: Light dun polypropylene

Tails: Light dun Microfibetts six fibers split 3/3

Abdomen: White Sexi-Floss (aka Flexi-Floss, Dyna Floss, Super Floss, etc.)

Hackle: Light dun or ginger – I anchor the butt of the hackle stem to the base of the wing post

Thorax: Light olive rabbit dubbing, built up larger than the abdomen to present a natural mayfly silhouette

Head: Light olive

PMD ParachuteDun

PMD ParachuteDun

The PMD Thorax Dun offers yet another pattern variation that helps fool trout. The wing is placed a little farther from the hook eye than the Parachute Dun, and the hackle is wound conventionally, but clipped on the bottom. Like all the patterns in this set, the Pale Morning Dun Thorax Dun features a split tail with the synthetic, translucent quill abdomen and a fur-dubbed thorax. Like each pattern in this collection, the Thorax Dun offers a different silhouette on the surface. Being prepared with multiple fly pattern designs for any mayfly hatch is an asset to the angler.

PMD Thorax Dun

Hook: Standard dry fly hook, #14 – #18

Thread: Danville Flymaster Light Olive #61

Wing: Light dun polypropylene

Tails: Light dun Microfibetts six fibers split 3/3

Abdomen: White Sexi-Floss (aka Flexi-Floss, Dyna Floss, Super Floss, etc.)

Hackle: Light dun or ginger, clipped flat on bottom

Thorax: Light olive rabbit dubbing, built up larger than the abdomen to present a natural mayfly silhouette

Head: Light olive

PMD Thorax Dun

PMD Thorax Dun

PMD Four-pack Selection - Boxed Set.

PMD Four-pack Selection – Boxed Set. Set includes three each of the four patterns: PMD Comparadun, PMD Quill-body Comparadun, PMD Parachute Dun, and PMD Thorax Dun and can be ordered in size #14, #16, or #18 (single hook size per set).

Set of Four – These four PMD patterns are also being offered together in an attractive boxed set. The set is identified with a printed label, a signature card, the flies are mounted on foam strips, and they are beautifully packaged in a clear plastic case. This attention to detail and quality of the boxed set makes this a tasteful gift.

What it imitates: Ephemerella excrucians mayfly sub-imago, Pale Morning Dun (PMD)

When to fish it: The PMD is an ubiquitous mayfly, very abundant throughout the west, and there is a wide range of dates for their emergence. It is often best to consult local sources for hatching information. Despite their name, they often hatch in the afternoon and evening depending on conditions and locale.

Where to fish it:  Pale Morning Duns inhabit most water types, tailwaters, spring creeks, freestone streams, rivers, and some ponds and lakes, except warm water and infertile high country lakes.

How to fish it:  PMD patterns can be fished on 5x to 7x tippet, depending on water type. This hatch is prolonged, and on heavily-fished waters, trout can become drift-shy, requiring very precise presentation to fool them into taking your fly. Accurate casting and drag-free drifts are essential for success. On smooth water long leaders of 12 – 14 feet are necessary. Two or more pattern variations of the PMD can increase your chances for a good day on the water.

To place an order for the duns or the set visit: http://www.myflies.com/Pale-Morning-Duns-Four-Pack-Selection-P830.aspx

Sulphur MayflyDuns – Four-pack Selection

These four patterns were just added yesterday to MyFlies.com as part of my product page. Here is the link: http://www.myflies.com/Sulphur-Mayfly-Duns-Four-pack-Selection-P828.aspx

I have made a few recent posts about some of these sulphur dun patterns and their fishing effectiveness, both on Spring Creek, and in the article on Muddy Creek in York County, Pennsylvania. Sulphurs occur on most trout streams across the country. This Four-pack Selection of Sulphur Duns presents together; mayfly dun patterns in the following styles: Thorax Dun, Parachute Dun, Comparadun, and Quill-body Comparadun.

If you have read these previous posts you are aware that I’ve written several articles about the synthetic, elastic, and translucent material made by DuPont, but called by different names depending on the fly tying material company that sells it. For those of you who haven’t seen these posts, once more, here we go again: Sexi-Floss, Dyna-Floss, Flexi-Floss, and the former Orvis name, Super-Floss (discontinued).

Here is a product review from The Beaverkill Angler Fly Shop in Roscoe, New York:

“Flexi-Floss / Floss Flex is a crinkly spandex material that is stretchable yet handles like floss (better and easier than floss – DB). Great for ribbing, wiggly legs, antennae, segmented wrapped midge bodies, and more. Flexi-Floss / Floss Flex is easy to use and adds a little extra shine to your flies. Best of all it doesn’t break down like rubber legs, so your flies will last longer.” Here is the page to the product:

http://beaverkillangler.com/fly_tying/synthetics/flexi_floss_floss_flex.aspx

The same product, Sexi-Floss, from Montana Fly Company, is available from Chris Helm at Whitetail Fly Tieing Supplies, in Toledo, Ohio. The bonus of ordering from Chris is you speak directly to him, he is an experienced and knowledgeable fly tier, he knows fly tying materials, and he personally receives and processes your order. Here is his phone number: 419-843-2106. Chris also has some of the best deer hair available, sorted and graded for specific fly tying uses. Here is a photo of the four pattern styles; all flies are tied by me, and all photos are mine as well:

Sulphur Dun Patterns, left to right:

Sulphur Dun Patterns, left to right: Thorax Dun, Parachute Dun, Comparadun, and Quill-body Comparadun. All except the Comparadun are tied with a synthetic quill body, made of Sulphur Orange (or amber) Sexi-Floss, Flexi-Floss, etc. Notice how slim, smooth, and as A. K. Best describes mayfly bodies, “waxy looking” they are. Highly imitative and this material floats. Nice!

This collection of four sulphur dun patterns is representative of the mayfly Ephemerella invaria. The “sulphurs” are a very eagerly anticipated hatch on many streams, particularly in the Eastern US. These mayflies occur with variations in color and size. This offering of four different pattern types and hook sizes is intended to increase the anglers chances of success when fishing a sulphur hatch. Trout can be selective to pattern types, particularly on flat water so it is beneficial to the angler to have more than one style and size of dun pattern when fishing this hatch. This proven collection of Sulphur Duns helps solve the difficulties of fishing sulphur drys to finicky trout. All four duns are tied with split tails.

On the tying recipes, all materials are listed in the order that they are tied in.

Comparadun

#14 Sulphur Comparadun. This pattern uses rabbit dubbing for the body, but the abdomen is reverse-dubbed and ribbed with the tying thread. You can see how this procedure adds realism to the fly, and it also tightens up the abdomen. For a video of my Reverse-Dubbing technique, check out my March Brown Comparadun youtube video.

Sulphur Comparadun

Hook: Standard dry fly hook, #14 – #18

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 #7 Orange

Wing: Bleached deer hair

Tails: Yellow Microfibetts, six fibers split 3/3

Abdomen: Amber rabbit dubbing, reverse-dubbed and ribbed with the tying thread

Thorax: Amber rabbit dubbing, more robust than the abdomen

Head: Orange

You can see that the thorax is more robust than the abdomen, this is an imitative design feature, but it  also is part of the tying process because you are building the thorax over the butt ends of the clipped deer hair wing. Because of the color variations of the Ephemerella invaria duns across their range, similar but different thread and dubbing colors can be used. Alternate threads to use would include Danville #2 Cream, #4 Pale Yellow, #8 Yellow, and #61 Light Olive.

#14 Sulphur Parachute Dun.

#14 Sulphur Parachute Dun. Note the Sexi-Floss abdomen and dubbed thorax. The parachute hackle helps the fly land right side up, and this design presents a different silhouette to the trout. In fact, while each of these patterns represents the same mayfly, each style presents a similar but different silhouette to the trout. Being prepared with multiple pattern styles can be your ace-in-the-hole when confronted with a sulphur hatch. In fact, this is true of most mayfly species.

The Sulphur Parachute Dun is made with the same abdomen of synthetic quill material as the Quill-body Comparadun, and has a dubbed thorax, but it has a poly-post wing and a parachute hackle. The advantage of parachute duns provides a highly-visible, low-floating, imitative design. It is generally considered a better dry fly pattern for fishing riffles, runs, and typically rougher pocket water than the no-hackle Comparadun.

Sulphur Parachute Dun

Hook: Standard dry fly hook, #14 – 18

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 #7 Orange

Wing: Light dun polypropylene post

Hackle: Light ginger

Tails: Yellow Microfibetts

Abdomen: Sulphur orange Flexi-Floss

Thorax: Amber rabbit dubbing

Head: Orange

While I have used this material for years, I recently started using the polypropylene as a wing post, rather than the E. P. Fibers as posted on some of my recent flies. This was done for ease of use and less preparation time. More flies per hour means a raise in pay. I also found out that the crinkly nature of the polypropylene is much easier to wrap around, or post, at the base of the wing. The E. P. Fibers are very slippery, while the kinky nature of the poly yarn seems to grab and hold the thread, eliminating a point of (sometimes) fly tying exasperation. Check the photo, you can see the zig-zags in the wing material.

#14 Quill-body Sulphur Comparadun

#14 Quill-body Sulphur Comparadun. This design features the abdomen of Flexi-Sexi-Dyna Floss.

The Sulphur Quill-body Comparadun is a personal pattern design variation that has a more realistic body silhouette with a slim, waxy-smooth abdomen that contrasts with the more robust fur-dubbed thorax. The abdomen is made from a synthetic quill material that is highly translucent, and it also floats, thereby adding increased flotation to this pattern.

Sulphur Quill-body Comparadun

Hook: Standard dry fly hook #14 – #18

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 #7 Orange

Wing: Bleached deer hair

Tails: Yellow Microfibetts

Abdomen: Orange Flexi-floss

Thorax: Amber rabbit dubbing

Head: Orange

#14 Sulphur Thorax Dun.

#14 Sulphur Thorax Dun. I call this the Poly-wing Thorax Dun.

The Sulphur Thorax Dun offers yet another pattern variation that helps fool trout. The wing is placed a little farther from the hook eye than the Parachute Dun, and the hackle is wound conventionally, but clipped on the bottom. Like all the patterns in this set, the Sulphur Thorax Dun features a split tail with the synthetic, translucent quill abdomen and a fur-dubbed thorax. Like each pattern in this collection, the Thorax Dun offers a different silhouette on the surface. This is an asset to the angler who is prepared with multiple fly designs for any mayfly hatch.

As far as I know, Barry Beck created the Poly-wing Thorax Dun as an alternate style of making the Marinaro Thorax Dun, a fly design using the broad, webby part of neck hackles, created by Pennsylvania author and fly tier, Vincent C. Marinaro. Through personal correspondence, Vince’s Thorax Dun debuted among the New Dry Flies, in Ray Bergman’s second edition of Trout, 1952, with this comment: “I think it to be an outstanding development in fly construction.” And Ray adds, “Mr. Marinaro tells me he is working on a book concerning this and other flies. It should prove very interesting.” Modern Fly Fly Code was published in 1950, while I happen to know that the correspondence between Ray Bergman and Vince Marinaro took place in 1948-49. Ray saved every letter, and during my research for the Ray Bergman biography I wrote for Forgotten Flies, 1999, I was privileged to meet with Ray’s niece and nephew, Norma and Buddy Christian, of Nyack, New York. Ray hand-copied every letter into his own hand, in pencil, onto a tablet not unlike those we used to get in grade school. He did that for his wife, Grace, whom I believe typed all his manuscripts. It was a honor and a privilege to have access to this material. Getting back to Barry Beck’s Poly-wing Thorax Dun, along with Jim Smethers, one of the other fly shop tiers, I used to occasionally tie the pattern for them in the early 1990’s. Any mayfly dun can be imitated with this pattern design style.

Sulphur Thorax Dun

Hook: Standard dry fly hook #14 – #18

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 #7 Orange

Wing: Light dun polypropylene yarn

Tails: Yellow Mivrofibetts

Abdomen: Sulphur Orange Flexi-Floss

Hackle: Light ginger

Thorax: Amber rabbit dubbing

Head: Orange

On the hackled patterns, alternate colors of hackle would be medium ginger, and various shades of light, medium, and sandy dun. I have a beautiful bleached grizzly cape from Bill Keough that would also make some great-looking sulphur dun patterns, considering the cream and light-ginger mottled coloration.

Here are a couple Spring Creek brown trout that were fooled by these flies:

Spring Creek Brown - Sulphur

Spring Creek Brown – taken on a #14 Sulphur Parachute Dun.

Spring Creek Brown - Sulphur Thorax Dun.

Spring Creek Brown – taken on #14 Sulphur Thorax Dun.

These four patterns are also being offered together in an attractive boxed set. The set is identified with a printed label, a signature card, the flies are mounted on foam strips, and they are beautifully packaged in a clear plastic case. This attention to detail and quality of the flies in a boxed set makes this a tasteful gift. The set includes three each of the four patterns: Sulphur Comparadun, Sulphur Quill-body Comparadun,  Sulphur Parachute Dun, and Sulphur Thorax Dun. Available hook sizes are #14, #16, and #18. Individual flies are available in all three hook sizes, while the sets contain all patterns of the same hook size.

Don Bastian's Sulphur Dun Selection.

Don Bastian’s Boxed Sulphur Dun Selection.

What it imitates:  Ephmerella invaria mayfly sub-imago (dun)

When to fish it:  Depending on locale: mid-April in the southern Appalachians, late April through June in the northeastern US

Where to fish it:  Sulphurs inhabit most of the freestone and limestone creeks, streams, and rivers in the eastern and mid-western United States and Canada. They are also present in some tailwater fisheries such as the Delaware River.

How to fish it:  Sulphur dun patterns should generally be fished on 5x tippet, in some cases 6x, but only with smaller hook sizes and smooth water. My personal experience fishing sulphurs is always with 5x, using a leader of ten to fourteen feet.

Thank you for your time to visit and read my blog. To purchase these patterns or the boxed set, please visit: http://www.myflies.com/Sulphur-Mayfly-Duns-Four-pack-Selection-P828.aspx

Hendrickson – Red Quill – Parachute Dry

As part of a custom dry fly order I’m working on, this is a second pattern installment, one of my versions of the Hendrickson – Red Quill, or Male Hendrickson Parachute Dry pattern. This dressing once again uses the stretchy body synthetic material, known on the fly tying material market by multiple names: Sexi-Floss, Dyna-Floss, Floss-Flex (formerly by Orvis as Super Floss – they discontinued it), etc.

Here is the Hendrickson Male or Red Quill Parachute:

#14 Red Quill Parachute Dry - tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

#14 Red Quill Parachute Dry – tied and photographed by Don Bastian. This photo and the one following are taken at different shutter speeds, and therefore they present different lighting and depth-of-field.

I have presented both these macro photos with different lighting, since the exposure may not accurately reflect the actual color of the fly. I suggest you combine what you see with what I write; generally there is truth (from me at least) in both the photo and written word. At least I endeavor to make it so.

#14 Hendrickson - Red Quill Parachute, tied with Sexi-Floss, etc. abdomen.

#14 Hendrickson – Red Quill Parachute, tied with Sexi-Floss, etc. abdomen.

Hendrickson Parachute Dry

Hook: Standard dry fly #12 and #14

Thread: Danville #47 Tobacco Brown

Wing: Dark dun Para-post

Tails: Dark dun Microfibetts, 6 fibers split 3/3 –  if you examine the group shot closely, you’ll see the division of the tail fibers

Abdomen: Brown – Sexi-Dyna-Super-Flex Floss

Thorax: Reddish brown rabbit dubbing

Hackle: Dark dun

Head: Red-brown

Tying Instructions:

1) Start tying thread at hook eye, position wing material about 1/3 distance from eye to hook point.

2) Post the base of the wing with thread about 3/32″ to 1/8″.

3) Attach clipped hackle stem upright to base of wing post.

4) Wind to hook point, clip tag thread end, attach six Microfibetts tail fibers. Wind to end of body. The tail fibers are divided using a left-hand thumb and finger pinch, ending with thumb-only pressure against hook bend. This makes the fibers flare out. Take the three fibers on the near side, using your left index finger tip to angle them toward you, and then divide the fibers with four figure-eight wraps using maximum tension thread wraps. YOU MUST do this with maximum thread tension, and you must also move your grasp w/left hand from right to left side of tail, back and forth, on the fibers as you progress, to stabilize and counteract the thread torque as the wraps are made. Up to speed, this takes me six to eight seconds to tie a split tail. But then again, since I started using this technique over twenty years ago, I bet I have tied more than 10,000 to 12,000 dry flies with this method and material. Experience and repetition is what really makes you good at what you do.

5) Advance thread to thorax, attach Sexi-Floss. Holding it secure with max thread tension, stretch it, and then wind back over the material, then back to thorax again. Be careful not to compress the tail fibers with the tying thread or the Sexi-Floss. The thread forms the underbody, and with the #47 Tobacco Brown thread and translucence of the Sexi-Floss, creates the lovely and realistic reddish-brown appearance as on the natural Ephemerella subvaria mayfly dun.

6) Wind the Sexi-Floss to form the abdomen. Secure with 3 -4 tight wraps, trim excess.

7) Apply dubbing and create thorax.

8) Wind the hackle counter-clockwise, five to six turns, tie off.

For additional instructions of the tying procedure, see my recent Parachute Adams post.

A dozen Hendrickson Pareachute Dyyuns, ready to fish!

A dozen #14 Hendrickson Parachute Duns, ready to fish! Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Between the split tails and the parachute hackle, this is a land-right-side-up-every-time fly pattern. Good tying style for any may fly pattern.

I will be happy at anytime when I am demo tying on locations to demonstrate and teach you this split-tail technique. I learned it from Barry Beck, back in my commercial tying days. This trick alone increased my Comparadun tying production from 9 to 10 flies an hour to 17 or 18. It’s true, I was once timed at a demonstration in Ontario – a #14 Light Cahill Comparadun, three minutes flat. Including head cement and fly out of the vise.

Also, following up on the successful bidding of my private fly tying lesson donation this past December to the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester,Vermont, I have recently started teaching private fly tying lessons right here in my rural Cogan Station, Pennsylvania, home. It is peaceful and quiet, St. Michael’s Road is lightly traveled; deer, turkeys, and other wildlife sightings, even the occasional black bear, are common. The view to the north of Bobst Mountain is gorgeous, and I’m far enough away from Williamsport that the light pollution is minimal – you can actually see the Milky Way in a clear night sky. On  warm summer night, if you leave your bedroom windows open, you may even hear the howl of coyotes.

If you come, you are my guest and are treated accordingly. All fly tying materials are provided, you only need to bring your vise, threaded bobbins, a light, and tools. Depending on time of year, your visit can also include a little hosted fishing if desired. The standard package is a morning arrival, stay all day, comfortable and quiet overnight accommodations, with a full breakfast the next morning. I do all the cooking and care for your comfort during your stay.

We can tie what ever you wish – drys, classic wet flies, saltwater patterns such as Lefty’s Deceiver, Half and Half, Clouser Minnows; hairwing salmon and steelhead patterns, nymphs, emergers, soft-hackles, 18th century Orvis and other classic and historic patterns, or bucktails and Rangeley and eastern style streamers. I specialize in classic wet flies, Carrie Stevens (teaching her original methods of material placement and usage), and other tiers of classic streamer patterns, 18th Century Lake Flies, and traditional patterns. Small groups of two or three persons can be accommodated.

For information, rates, and to schedule a day or two of personal fly tying instruction, please contact me at: dwbastian@chilitech.net