Footer Special Frame

This is the frame I made of 29 Footer Specials contributed by fellow fly tiers.

Eric L. Austin – Ohio; Scott Bernard – Maine; Don Bastian –Pennsylvania; Peggy Brenner – New Hampshire; Stephan Briere – Ontario; Richard L. Connors – Massachusetts; Bruce Corwin – New York; Matthew T. Crompton – Virginia; Joe Cordeiro – Massachusetts; Chris Del Plato – New Jersey; Daniel Despres – New Brunswick; Selene A. Dumaine – Maine; Heath Fecteau – Maine; Petr Haisman – Czech Republic; Eunan Hendron – Pennsylvania; Russell Haskell – New Hampshire; David Huntress – Maine; Deryn LaCombe – Connecticut; Danny L. Legere – Maine; Rick Little – New Hampshire; Dave Lomasney – Maine; Darren MacEachern – Ontario; Truman G. McMullan – Pennsylvania; Alec. M. Stansell – Massachusetts; Joel Stansbury – Kentucky; Peter Simonson – New Hampshire; Robert Vincent – Wisconsin; Bill Shuck – Maryland; Paul Tidroski – Florida.

I’ve gotta go, so I’ll add more to this post tomorrow. Thanks to all these talented tiers for their contributions!

David Footer Articles Celebrate His Career

As I announced last week, both the Portland Press Herald and the Lewiston/Auburn Sun Journal, both of Maine, have published feature articles about David Footer in their Sunday September 16th Editions.

Here are the links:
Below is the photo of the Footer Special that I tied and photographed for the Press Herald:

Footer Special – I tied this fly last Thursday evening.

The two articles combined, present informative and interesting information about a Maine taxidermist, artist, sculptor, and legend.

I am humbled and honored to be able to recognize David’s Footer Special fly pattern in its 50th Anniversary Year, and have Mr. Footer as the Guest of Honor this Friday, September 21st, at L. L. Bean in Freeport, Maine.

Footer Special Fly Tying Class with David Footer as Guest of Honor

It has been advertised for about a month that I am teaching a classic streamer fly tying class at L. L. Bean in Freeport, Maine, on Friday September 21st. There is only one space left, but Bean’s is also accepting stand-by names in event of any cancellations.

L. L. Bean also conducts regular fly tying classes Friday evenings at 7:00 PM. Since I was already scheduled to be present at Bean’s that day, I offered to serve as guest instructor for the Friday evening tying class on September 21st. In March, during the weekend of the L. L. Bean Spring Fishing Expo, I was invited to teach the class on March 16th. My suggestion to select a pattern different than the usual packaged fly pattern kits to the store manager was acceptable, as long as the pattern used materials in Bean’s regular fly tying stock. I chose the Footer Special, primarily since it is a pattern of  Maine origin, by taxidermist – artist David Footer. I thought the class would be relatively uneventful. I was wrong.

On the Friday afternoon of the Spring Fishing Expo, one of David Footer’s friends, Nick Sibilia, member of the Saco River Salmon Club, friend came by my display area and said, “I told Dave you were teaching his pattern tonight. He’s gonna try to come.” I was thrilled. I wouldn’t have given that a thought. I had met David for the first time at the Marlborough Fly Fishing Show in January of this year.

David lives in the nearby Lewiston-Auburn area of Maine. It turned out that David could not be present that evening, but he was well-represented at the class by his daughter Julie, who works with him, and another daughter and her husband, and additional family members, grand-children, and I think even one of David’s great-grand-children. Julie had prepared a text on the origin and history of the Footer Special. This turned out to be a fortuitous combination of L. L. Bean’s 100th Anniversary and the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Footer Special streamer fly. The Footer Special was first published in the 1982 book, Trolling Flies for Trout and Salmon, by Dick Stewart and Bob Leeman.

It all came together very nicely that evening. The folks at Bean’s were delighted by the turnout. There were about 18 students in the class, and more spectators than students. It was the biggest attendance ever at Bean’s tying classes. It was a privilege to be involved in this.

I decided to again select the Footer Special for the class on September 21st. Once this was in motion, Ed Gauvin of the L. L. Bean Hunt / Fish Store and I decided to extend an invitation to David Footer to attend the class. I am delighted to announce that we have received confirmation from Julie Footer and David Footer. She and her father, and David’s wife, Annette, have graciously accepted the invitation and will be coming to the class on September 21st. Considering that we have more promotion time, it is anticipated that this evening will be even better than the previous Footer Special class.

David Footer has been an artist and taxidermist for over sixty years. He will be presenting his personal account of the Footer Special streamer pattern creation along with the big fish story that goes with it.

David Footer is one of the few remaining Maine personalities with direct links to the rich history and traditions of the Rangeley Lakes Region and the Golden Age of the Maine streamer fly. Julie Footer provided this information about her father: “He took the North Western School of Taxidermy correspondence course- and was licensed by the time he was 15, which was in 1946- that was also the year he first ever saw a Herb Welch mount: which was hanging at Bald Mountain Camps in the main Lodge. My father never knew who mounted that fish until years later (but the sight of it inspired him), and never met Herb Welch- to speak with about taxidermy until October of 1952 when he was 21 years old, and already had been a licensed taxidermist for six years.”

Herb Welch was a contemporary and friend of Carrie G. Stevens. Between Carrie Stevens’ Gray Ghost and Herb’s Black Ghost, they own the distinction of being the originators of the two most famous streamer patterns ever created. Herb Welch was recognized as the best taxidermist of his day. David Footer is linked to this history through personal experience.

Julie also included this information, “Under the direction of Master Taxidermist Herb Welch, David’s mentor, he honed his skills and became a master himself in the craft.” Here is a link to David’s About the Artist web page:

This Footer Special fly tying class with pattern originator David A. Footer as guest of honor will be held on the mezzanine at L. L. Bean, 7:00 PM. The class is free, anyone is welcome to attend. Materials will be provided. Tiers should plan your arrival ten to fifteen minutes early! Spectators are welcome!

I was priviliged to tie the Footer Special for the 2000 book, Forgotten Flies. It is also one of the patterns included in my 2007 DVD, Traditional Streamers and Bucktails.

I am very excited about this! A special thank you to Julie Footer, for your assistance in providing accurate information of your father’s early years of taxidermy. Thank you all for your interest and support!

The Footer Special – created by David Footer in 1962.

Footer Special:

Hook: Any standard streamer hook, 6x to 10x long, size #1 to #8

Body: Flat gold tinsel

Belly: Sparse dark blue bucktail followed by 4 – 6 strands peacock herl

Underwing: Sparse red bucktail over which is sparse yellow bucktail

Wing: Two yellow hackles; some tiers use four hackles in the wing

Shoulders: Guinea fowl body feathers

Head: Black

There is a large flat-screen TV to provide a detailed, close-up view of the tying instructions to the class.

Footer Special Streamers –

Sometime in 2011 I was fortunate to be invited to participate in the Project, a year-long internet gallery devoted to featherwing streamer patterns. Darren MacEachern of Toronto, Canada, is the man behind the scenes with this project. I have placed Darren’s photos of my streamers here on my blog as they have appeared on, but somehow I missed the Footer Special that was posted on April 19th:

The Footer Special on that day is presented by two tiers, Charlie Mann and myself. Here is Darren’s photo of the pattern:

Footer Specials – tied by Charlie Mann – top, and Don Bastian – bottom. Darren MacEachern photo.

The link to above also presents a bit of the history on the pattern.

I need to get busy and write the story about the Friday night fly tying class I taught at L. L. Bean last March during their 3-day 100th Anniversary Spring Fishing Expo. Here is a nutshell account:

Bean’s conducts regular Friday evening fly tying classes in the Fishing Department of their Flagship Store in Freeport, Maine, during fall, winter, and spring. They normally present flies in their classes that are part of their packaged L. L. Bean Fly Tying Pattern kits. Since the same patterns were presented a couple years in a row, I suggested to Ed Maillet, Department Manager at the time of planning last November, to consider doing “something different.”

Ed agreed. His only request of me was to present a pattern that Bean’s would have the materials for tying in their stock. The Footer Special met these requirements, also it is a Maine streamer pattern, and was one of the streamers featured in my streamer DVD, Traditional Streamers and Bucktails. Little did I know that 2012 is the 50th Anniversary year of the creation of the Footer Special. The resulting Friday evening class turned out to be the best class Bean’s ever had in terms of the number of people present. Nick Sibilia, member of the Saco River Salmon Club in Biddeford, Maine, is a friend of David Footer and had informed David that I was tying his pattern at the class. While there were about 17 students, eight or ten members of the Footer family was present, including daughter Julie who has been David’s right-hand girl for many years in his taxidermy and art studio.

David Footer came by my display table at Bean’s on Saturday and I got to spend some time talking to him, and I also met his wife. On Sunday we had lunch together in the room provided by Bean’s for the Spring Fishing Expo guests and celebrities. It’s been a delight getting to know David; he is a very friendly, kind man. And talented. He trained under famous Maine taxidermist / artist Herbert Welch, originator of the famous Black Ghost streamer.

Including the Footer family members and additional spectators, there were about thirty-five people present at the class. Needless to say, Bean’s staff of retail and promotional employees were delighted by this unanticipated response.

Footer Special – created by David Footer, tied by Don Bastian. Photo by Darren MacEachern,

David’s creation of the Footer Special mirrors the fly designs of Maine Warden Supervisor, Joe Stickney, originator of the Supervisor – also one of my other patterns presented on Streamers and other streamer patterns including the famous Warden’s Worry and Lady Doctor. Joe Stickney and David Footer share the common creativity of fly pattern design, while neither of them tied flies. They created their patterns and had them dressed by friends who were fly tiers.

Here is a link to David Footer’s website:

Finally part of the project of is a monthly eBay auction of the streamers presented the previous month. Here is a link to my Footer Special, in case anyone is interested:

I tied two Footer Special streamers the night of the class, and presented them to David on Sunday at the L. L. Bean Spring Fishing Expo. I intend to write more on some of the details and post photos of those flies as well. Thanks for reading!

Washing Bucktails and Hairstackers

During the week before the L. L. Bean Spring Fishing Expo on March 16 – 18 I was tying a Footer Special for a customer while staying with my brother, Larry. The belly calls for dark blue bucktail, so I pulled one out of my drawer bin. I have one of the large size A. K. Best hairstackers that a friend from Maryland got for me a number of years ago. They work great for stacking bucktail. I have been grateful to my friend ever since.

After the class I taught on Sunday, March 25th at The Penobscot Flyfishers in Brewer, Maine, my friend and I stopped at the recently opened Annika Rod and Fly Shop in Holden before heading back to New Gloucester. Several fellows from the class started to filter in for the usual Sunday evening gathering and as they moseyed about the shop, someone knocked something off the large tying table that owner Don Corey has set up as The Learning Center. The object hit the concrete floor with a loud, metallic, tinkling clank, and then I saw that it was a large size A. K. Best hairstacker and announced, “Oh, it’s just a hairstacker.”

Don Corey was quick to reply, ” No, that is not just a hairstacker.” Several of the fellows present chimed in with supportive affirmation of Don’s comment.

Of course I had to agree with their assertion. The large A. K. Best stackers are the best ones available for the purpose of stacking bucktail for streamers and bucktails. Problem is they are not made anymore. Those of us fortunate to have one are very protective of them.

Chris Helm of Toledo, Ohio, operates a large fly shop by appointment and mail-order in his home Whitetail Fly Tieing Supplies (that’s how he spells tieing), and even though he’s nearing retirement and not actively promoting his catalog business he has his own brand of hairstacker that he had custom-made by the same machine shop that manufactures the A. K.Best hairstackers. I believe they sell for approximately $50. The best way to order one is to call him between 10 AM and 5 PM, Eastern Standard Time. Call to inquire: 419-843-2106.

As I began tying the Footer Special I cut a section of blue bucktail, culled out the short hairs and inserted it into my stacker. But it just would not stack. Tap, tap, tap, and it would not stack. It was one of those tails that come in the package not completely cleaned from the dyeing process. It had a bit of waxy residue that made it sort of cling together, and that is a problem. I don’t use that much dark blue in tying bucktails, and I have several full blue tails, but I had dealt with this one before. When you are stacking bucktail, there’s nothing worse than bucktail that won’t stack. Previously, whenever I encountered this problem on a particularly unruly and uncooperative piece of deer tail I just bagged it and found one willing to work with me. On this day I guess I wasn’t in a mood for it to be ornery with me, so out I went to the kitchen and dropped it into the dishpan. My brother has a Burnham hot-water boiler in his house, just like I do, a finely-made Pennsylvania product from the company in Lancaster. Solidly-built, American made. Imagine that. Mine is 33 years old and still runs like a reliable old truck. That model has a hot-water coil that also heats the domestic hot water. The element that regulates the temperature can wear out in a couple years, and when it does, you pretty much have no way to limit the upper temperature of the hot water. Caution at the sink is in order. My wife used to love it because the dishes were always squeaky clean.

I gave a good squirt of dish soap and added hot water. A minute of washing, a minute of rinsing, then I took it outside to vigorously shake the excess water from it. This was one of those unseasonably warm March days, it was sunny and the back deck faces to the west. I stood it up on the railing against house and let nature take over while I located another dark blue bucktail to continue my tying.

When dry, the formerly sticky bucktail was as clean as could be. It felt like your hair does when you wash it and apply conditioner. Soft, clean, silky, smooth, almost slippery, it was so nice. Sweet! I thought to myself. And the hide was still pliable.

So I’m suggesting that any piece of bucktail or body hair that needs washed, it might be a good thing to do just that.

A few more notes on hairstackers:

1) Avoid any stacker made of plastic. Static becomes an issue. There is a new one on the market with a see-through acrylic tube at the bottom, maybe nice to see the hair, but it’s a gimmick, not necessary to see your hair stack. An idea generated by a well-meaning individual trying to separate unsuspecting consumers from their money non-fly tying tool designer, but that’s just a hazardous guess. One student last weekend had one and said he hated it because of static. I made the mistake once of thinking I could make cheap hairstackers to sell out of CPVC pipe. Bad idea.

2) Static: Use a comb, but never use a plastic comb. A metal comb, or the ones from Griffin Tool Company – that I used to think were plastic – no, they are made from solid steer horn, each one is cut individually. Steer horn is naturally anti-static. I have one and love it. And they have the feature of all being unique, because the variety of grain in the horn can add beauty to the surface. The one I have was hand-picked because it has a beautiful combination of being different on both sides, kind of a lovely wood-grain appearance to it, one side light and the other dark.

Anyone who does much hair stacking needs a good comb; culling underfur is also imperative to good, clean stacking.

3) When you do encounter a bit of static, you can wipe your hair piece with a dryer sheet. Don’t confuse my mention of “hair piece” with a toupee.

4) If your hair sits at the top of your stacker without falling into the barrel, you need to clean your stacker. I have a nice metal stacker, hand-made, a gift from my machinist-hunting-fishing-fly tying friend Truman, the bottom is aluminum, the top is brass. The brass hairstackers on the market are nice, but you must be aware that when brass tarnishes, it’s dirty and impedes stacking. Cleaning works wonders on hairstackers. Use a Q-tip and metal cleaner, or a piece of Brillo pad separated and forced through the barrel; twist it and slide it back-and-forth to polish it up. When I was tying commercially, Comparaduns were one fly I tied tons of, and I used to clean my stacker once a week. If you want to really make it stack effectively, apply a touch of car wax inside. Talk about s-m-o-o-t-h. A small piece of paper towel twisted and pulled through the barrel several times will polish it and finish the job.

Don Corey has a very nice shop; he operates it part-time. Here is his web address:

Shop hours are Tuesday and Friday, 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM. Saturdays 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Other times by appointment. If you are heading to the Grand Lake Stream region, most likely you’ll be driving right by Don’s shop. Plan a visit to Annika Rod and Fly Company; and he’s also chock full of the latest information on where the fishing is good…

The View From Fish in a Barrel Pond – LL Bean Post

My friend “Quill Gordon,” the caretaker at The Wantastiquet Lake Trout Club in Weston, Vermont, where I believe I will be visiting again this year in June – has posted a very interesting, intriguing, tinged with his usual dry humor, and informative post on his blog, The View From Fish in a Barrel Pond. The post is titled; When Art Imitates Art, Good Fish Die.” In this blog he writes about the photographic recreation / replication / digitized reproduction of the cover of a 1933 LL Bean Catalog. This artistic effort was done by photographer Randal Ford, in conjunction with the 1912 founding of L. L. Bean Company in Freeport, Maine. This year – 2012 – is the 100th Anniversary Year of L. L. Bean.

Quill mentions at the end of his post that Don Bastian (that would be me) is tying flies there on March 16th, and suggests you may want to drop by. I would enjoy that, and thanks, Quill, for the plug. I appreciate your support and enthusiasm, and I look forward to seeing you there!

The date mentioned in his article is the first day of the L. L. Bean Annual Spring Fishing Expo, to be held on March 16 – 18. In addition to demo tying from 1 PM until 5 PM on the 16th, I will be leading the regularly scheduled Friday evening tying class at 7 PM as we collectively dress a Maine streamer pattern, the Footer Special. I am also one of the 2012 Expo Featured Fly Tyers and I will be tying classic wet flies and traditional streamers on both Saturday and Sunday from 10 AM until 4 PM.

Here is the permalink to Quill Gordon’s entertaining post; it is worth checking out!

I hope Quill won’t mind, but I borrowed one of the photos from his post so you would at least have something to look at here on my blog, since my picture files currently have nothing relevant for inclusion anyway. Besides I wouldn’t want to take anything away from his writing and photos. Thanks Quill, and as usual, nice work!

Original (left) and reproduced version of 1933 L. L. Bean Catalog Cover. The fish are or should I say, were, real and alive...but if Quill's facts are correct, PETA won't like the end result.

L. L. Bean Spring Fishing Expo

These photos were taken last March, 2011, by my niece  Emily Bastian, at the Annual L. L. Bean Spring Fishing Expo; held at their Flagship Store in Freeport, Maine.

I am pleased that I have been invited to return this year, and I feel very honored to participate in this Expo, to join in the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of L. L. Bean.

Don Bastian talks with visitors as fellow fly tyer Joe Cordiero gestures and explains his Flat Wing Streamer fly designs to onlookers

View of the Featured Fly Tyers area, including my framed wet fly display of 483 patterns from books by Ray Bergman, on the mezzanine at L. L. Bean, Freeport, Maine, Spring Fishing Expo 2011. This set is now in the possession of a private collector.

The Expo this year will be held on March 16 – 18. I am presenting a fly tying demonstration on Friday, March 16th, from 1 to 5 PM, in this area of the store on the mezzanine you see in this photo; and then I am teaching Bean’s regular Friday evening Fly Tying Class; we will be tying the Footer Special. The classes are free, and held in the fly tying department on the second floor. This year I don’t have a set of wet fly frames like I did in 2011, but I will have 40 or more different Carrie Stevens streamer patterns tied by me as part of my display.

Frame Nos. 1 – 4 of my wet fly display from Ray Bergman’s 1938 book, Trout.

Don Bastian at the L L Bean Spring Fishing Expo 2011. I can see and remember; the orange wool and white tail – I am winding a wool body for a Fontinalis Fin winged wet fly with my hackle pliers. (I had to wear this blue shirt from the International Fly Tying Symposium); I wanted to wear my light green L. L. Bean 2010 Spring Fishing Expo shirt that day, but it accidentally got a steam iron-shaped hole in the right sleeve in my hotel room that morning. The previous user of the iron apparently had it cranked up to HIGH, (which I failed to notice). Luckily for me, my sister-in-law in nearby New Gloucester came to the rescue with a replacement shirt. Whew!

Getting ready to grip the orange wool with my hackle pliers for the Fontinalis Fin…both scissors and hackle pliers in hand…(this photo was taken ahead of the one above where I am already winding). The use of hackle pliers on a single strand of wool prevents your stroking finger action form pulling the wool apart. Hackle pliers also enable you to wrap more precisely than by hand.

Over-the-shoulder hands-on image – working on the Fontinalis Fin wet fly. The white tail and orange wool is clearly visible. This photo is prior to the two above images in the tying sequence, and I’m not exactly sure what tying procedure I was doing when this image was taken.

Don Bastian explains wing quill cutting to visiting members of The Penobscot Fly Fishers. Don Corey of Annika Rod and Fly is partially hidden in the back; the fellow in front took my class a week later, and I can only remember he has close relatives that live within 20 miles of Cogan Station where I live. Small world. My brother Larry shares a laugh in the left foreground. Fellow tyer and friend Joe Cordeiro is to the upper left.

Crowd visiting the Featured Fly Tyers at the L. L. Bean Spring Fishing Expo, March 2011. 

Tying the Fontinalis Fin wet fly

I look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones at this year’s Expo. Here is a link to a pdf. Adobe file with a complete listing of events during the Expo:

David Footer and the Footer Special

A pair of #2 – 8x long Footer Specials tied by Don Bastian

Last weekend at the Marlborough, Massachusetts Fly Fishing Show, I had the opportunity to meet David Footer, noted taxidermist and artist from Maine. While not a fly tier, David originated the Footer Special in 1962, and had a friend tie it for him. I first saw it in Trolling Flies for Trout and Salmon, 1982, by Dick Stewart and Bob Leeman. It was interesting in our conversation, when I mentioned that title to Mr. Footer, he informed me that book was where the pattern was first published. I loved its colors so much at first sight, and I had enjoyed tying, fishing, and selling this pattern for years to the point that I included it in my DVD, Traditional Streamers and Bucktails, 2007. Here is the link to and my product page for this DVD:

David has been an artist and taxidermist for over sixty years. He met and was influenced by Herbie Welch when he was 21 years of age. A very interesting and entertaining story is on the David Footer web site:

I have seen and recognized Mr. Footer at various shows for years but I never had the privilege of meeting him until last weekend. It was a pleasure to meet him. Below is a photo of David and me taken at the show.

The creation of the Footer Special occurred similarly to the origin of the Supervisor, Lady Doctor, and Warden’s Worry, created by Maine Warden Joseph Stickney, who was also not a fly tier, but envisioned his patterns and had them dressed for him by fly tiers who were his friends.

Don Bastian and David Footer. Note the streamer fly hanging on my McKenzie Bright Light; the pattern is a Carrie Stevens Pink Lady; the head cement is drying. David has been a licensed taxidermist since 1946 and is recognized for his fish mounts and old fish mount restorations as one of the best in his field.

Traditional Streamers and Bucktails

Gray Ghost, Supervisor, Barnes Special, Black Ghost, Footer Special, Mickey Finn. Dressed by Don Bastian on Gaelic Supreme Mike Martinek / Carrie Stevens Rangeley Style Streamer Hooks, size #2 - 8x long.

These streamer flies were recently tied by me. These six patterns are the ones from my DVD, Traditional Streamers and Bucktails. This is the first time I have ever taken a group shot of them. The gray feathers in the Gray Ghost wing are from an old natural dun neck I had, bought probably well over twenty-five years ago. Unfortunately the larger feathers for big hooks are depleted, though I may be able to tie up some size #6 and smaller streamers from it yet.

The DVD, Traditional Streamers and Bucktails, is available on Here is a direct link to review the DVD information or place an order on my merchandise page of the site: Each order comes direct to me and will receive my personal attention.

In comparing this shade to some of the original Gray Ghost streamers tied by Carrie Stevens, this shade of dun gray feather is very similar to some of those that she had used when she was dressing her original Gray Ghosts. (Source for the photo comparisons: Carrie Stevens: Maker of Rangeley Favorite Trout and Salmon Flies, 2000, by Graydon Hilyard and Leslie Hilyard, and Forgotten Flies, 1999 – Complete Sportsman.

Carrie originated the Gray Ghost, and also was known to have tied the Supervisor and Black Ghost for her customers, as she tied numerous popular patterns of the time that she did not originate.

The Footer Special was originated by Maine taxidermist David Footer, the Mickey Finn by fellow Pennsylvanian John Alden Knight (who also originated The Solunar Tables), and the Barnes Special is the creation of C. Lowell Barnes as an adaptation of the Hurricane streamer. Mr. Barnes was a guide in the Sebago Lake Region of Maine.

The photo below is a double-shot version of these patterns:

Double-vision photo of the Black Ghost, Supervisor, Mickey Finn, Gray Ghost, Footer Special, and Barnes Special. I had not previously noted that these Black Ghosts are a wool-body version. I saw that somewhere, and for the sake of patterns and tying variation, included this version in my DVD, Traditional Streamers and Bucktails. These hooks are size #2 - 8x long Gaelic Supreme, Mike Martinek / Carrie Stevens Rangeley Style Streamer hooks.