The Fly Young Knight

The Fly Young Knight is a poem that was written by Frederick L. Whiting in 1927. It was copyrighted and made into 12″ x 22″ posters in 1950. As I understand, the original with mounted wet flies, hangs in the Adirondack  League Club clubhouse in New York. According to their website, there is an address in Old Forge, New York, but that is a PO Box and I am uncertain of the actual clubhouse location. This group is open to membership, and is dedicated to “the preservation and conservation of the Adirondack forest and the propagation and proper protection of fish and game in the Adirondack region.”

A copy of The Fly Young Knight also hangs in The Angler’s Club of New York. According to the writer, this whimsical poem was written about the Gray Knight, an old wet fly pattern given a mythical life in verse as the Gray Knight, with this distinction in the second line of the poem: “Emblazoned on his shield he bore a Parmacheene Belle.” Thus the poem continues with more fly patterns named as the tale unfolds.

When Jim Deren, owner of The Angler’s Roost in Manhattan passed away in 1983, Judith Bowman and Hoagy Carmichael, Jr., cleaned out Jim’s shop and his infamous “backroom.” They found a stack of rolled poster copies of The Fly Young Knight, and decided to engage a fly tier from Massachusetts to make ten sets of the flies, then mounted and framed them and sold them at a sale for $250.00. That was in 1985.

I never heard of The Fly Young Knight until last summer when a friend sent me a copy of the poem in the mail as a surprise gift. I recently tied the patterns for a customer in Connecticut, he was going to mount the flies himself. I took photos of the patterns and have copied The Fly Young Knight into a computer file with the intent to post the poem and fly photos inserted among the verses on the blog. Here it is:

The Fly Young Knight

by Frederick L. Whiting

Forth to the fight a good

Gray Knight

rode manfully and well.

Emblazoned on his shield he bore a

Parmachenee Belle

 

And from his tried and trusty lance there glittered in the sun

A gaudy

Alexandra

and a

Pale Blue Evening Dun.

From which you’ll please to understand, don’t fail to get this right,

The flies were on his armor, but there was none on the

Gray Knight.

 

No heed he gave to life or limb, nor fear lest he might fall,

He’d often fought in

Beaverkill

and also

Montreal.

Two squires attended his needs and with him cast their lot,

The one a

Royal Coachman

and the other

Jock Scott.

They polished off their golden spears; they oiled their gear and tackle.

And on their silken bonnets wore a

Bucktail

and a

Hackle.

The banner each one held aloft, renowned in song and story,

Was garnished with a

Katydid

beneath

Greenwell’s Glory.

Two husky heralds named

Cahill

made all the welkin ring,

And from a wood hard by appears a dashing

Grizzly King.

With haughty mien he makes salute, his plume waves in the wind,

While he defies the world to match the charm of

Jenny Lind.

What ho! Responds the proud

Gray Knight,

none ever yet heard tell

Of a maid so fair as can compare with

Parmachenee Belle.

Quick to the list these champions, their sturdy charges drew,

While overhead

Jungle Cock

and

Scarlet Ibis

flew.

Each laid his trusty lance in rest and dashed across the flat

When in the eye of

Grizzly King

there flew a fierce

Black Gnat.

This put his optics out of whack, he tumbled in the dirt.

He “bust” the buttons off his pants and split his undershirt.

So when he loudly yelled for help and made a great to do

They brought him a

Professor

and a

Silver Doctor

too.

Their ministrations hurt him so he gave them both a kick,

And for a fee he handed each a

Cowdung

on a stick.

In kicking them he hurt his toe which made him more forlorn

They put

Blue Jay

plaster then upon his knightly corn.

The wrathful

Grizzly King

was placed in bed attended by his daughters,

And she who bathed his injured eye was called the

Queen of Waters

Moral:

This goes to show that knights of old when walloped in the eye

Would belly ache about their pain like any other guy.

The Fly Young Knight, written, 1927, by Frederick L.Whiting. 1950 is the copyright date on the poster.

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Carrie Stevens Streamer Pattern Assortment

These photos of fifteen different Carrie Stevens streamer patterns that I tied in March was initially posted in my Cabin Weekend Fly Tying Session https://donbastianwetflies.wordpress.com/2012/03/11/cabin-weekend-fly-tying-session/ dated March 11th. I am posting them separately here with only the patterns identified for inclusion in my developing Carrie Stevens Pattern Dictionary. Eventually the recipes will be posted with photos of the individual patterns as I continue working on this portion of my blog.

An assortment of Carrie Stevens streamer patterns, tied and photographed by Don Bastian. Left column: G. Donald Bartlett, Gray Lady, Rapid River, Don’s Special. Middle column: Lakewood, Larry’s Special, Don’s Delight, Larry. Right column: Lady Miller, Jenny Lind, Merry Widow.

Carrie Stevens streamer patterns. This represents her entire patriotic series of four patterns that she created during World War II.
Upper right – two of the Casablanca; center left – two Victory; upper right – three of the General MacArthur, and across the bottom, four of the America. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Hooks are all Gaelic Supreme Martinek / Stevens Rangeley Style streamers, sizes range from #1 – 8x long to #4 – 6x long.

 

 

 

 

Carrie Stevens Streamer Patterns

An assortment of Carrie Steven’s streamer patterns tied by Don Bastian including the Gray Ghost, Charles E. Wheeler, General MacArthur, Judge, Don’s Delight, Colonel Bates, Blue Devil, etc. Most of them are tied on the fine English-made Gaelic Supreme Mike Martinek / Carrie Stevens Rangeley Style size #1 8x long hooks.

Let me say right off the top – I am far from an expert on this. Nevertheless I’d like to share my experience and what I have learned during a recent fly tying tour de force of these streamers.

Please refer to my post of last week titled; Streamer Four-Packs where I discussed my experience of tying Carrie Seven’s patterns … as I have off and on since the late 1960’s. For example, the Gray Ghost was in my streamer wallet, bracketed in sizes #4 through #12, tied by me on the old Mustad 3665A 6xl hooks when I was still in high school.
I finally did a few sets of streamer wings in June 2011 by cementing them for the very first time…and I decided to do this when my usual technique – tie in the wing, then the shoulder, then the cheek, using no glue, which has worked real well for me 98% of the time, did not work to my satisfaction. I was working on my first-ever Big Ben, and it was those golden pheasant tippet shoulder feathers that were giving me fits. They just didn’t want to lay down, not to mention stay straight.

After cementing my first set of streamer wings with Angler’s Corner cement provided by another tier, (I would have used Flexament but had none at the time), I settled on the use of Elmer’s Rubber Cement. It was the only option available to me, since my Flexament had thickened, I had no thinner, and the nearest fly shop is 22 miles one-way from my home. Ever since that first cemented wing, I have cemented the components on every streamer wing I have made ever since. I conducted tests in June of 2011, soaking cemented wings in water for up to 36 hours, and violent physical shaking to try to make the wings fall apart, which were unsuccessful. For test results on the Elmer’s Rubber cement, see: https://donbastianwetflies.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/carrie-stevens-streamers-cementing-wings/

Prior to my use of cement on streamer wings I always tied the wings in first, then the shoulders and cheeks, all one at a time. In the video segment of the Gray Ghost wing and other streamers in my DVD – Traditional Streamers and Bucktails –  there was no editing or second attempts there, as I set the wings on the Black Ghost, Barnes Special, and Gray Ghost in that order, I was even a little surprised during filming that my first attempt setting all these wings went off without a hitch. Without cement, the best method is to leave hackle barbs on the butt ends of your trimmed wing hackles, group them together, and tie them in with tight wraps, tying in both stems and some of the fibers at the base of the barbs. The attached barbs prevent twisting of the stems. To confirm this procedure and its success, watch the DVD.
So the wing assembly – gluing ahead of time, when I did finally do it; was a last resort to “keep it together” in a situation where setting the entire wing in stages of construction wasn’t going off without a hitch.
Guess what? I liked it. So I started doing it, all the time. One after another. Perhaps it takes more time collectively to tie the Carrie Stevens patterns this way than sans gluing, because of the time you spend selecting, pairing, matching, etc…but the tie-in of the preassembled wings is for me, takes ten seconds or less. I do it just like my wet fly wings, no soft wraps; pinch tight, make all tight wraps from the start, stems placed slightly above the center line of the sides of the head, the inside stems of each wing assembly are actually placed together; a slight tilt toward you to oppose the thread torque, and they’re good to go…only a few times so far have I needed to reset them and try again…

The fact that I (or another experience fly tier) am suddenly doing things differently isn’t surprising – I was forty years old before I learned to like bananas. Previously I hated ’em. I used to think like this: “How do you ruin a good fruit salad? Add bananas!” I’ve been eating bananas since 1992.

So to follow up on this: I have been converted.  I know, shocking…truth is, I’ll probably never again tie a Carrie Stevens pattern, or perhaps other New England style streamers that are similar in design, without cementing the wing components together. This change in my mindset all happened in a matter of a few days, as I began this process, using the Stevens method, building wings one-by-one. This change came about as a result of a fellow tier’s suggestion, but I learned twenty years ago that even novice and intermediate tiers are capable of providing good advice or a better method of a certain procedure to tiers with more years of experience.

Doing this, I have found that even patterns such as the Victory, Jungle Queen, Merry Widow, and Firefly that lack shoulders but still have jungle cock cheeks are made to better advantage for tying, and the construction of the integrated cement lends added stability to the front portion of the wing. There is less flip-flopping of the individual feathers in the wing when the front portion, say 25% of the stem length is bound to the adjacent feather(s) with cement. The cement should be kept shorter than the length of the shoulder, lacking a shoulder, then no longer than shy of the tip of the jungle cock nail cheek.  I’ve been using Elmer’s Rubber Cement; basically because I had no other alternative adhesive available at the time, and I like it. It does not bleed through much at all. When properly applied any bleed-through of the cement is concealed underneath the enamel portion of the jungle cock cheek. Some of the Stevens and other New England style patterns use six hackles in the wings. I use the cement only along the stem, I don’t suggest spreading it out across the sections into the barbs of the feather away from the stem.
My recent reading and study of the Carrie Stevens: Maker of Rangeley Favorite Trout and Salmon Flies, 2000, by Graydon and Leslie Hilyard has also influenced me on this. I confess – I bought it new when it came out, but all I ever did was read through the photo captions and look at the pictures. I missed a lot by not reading it sooner.

Speaking from the position of my experience of being stubborn about my previous method; I’ve said this before: as a fly tier, never assume you know everything, or don’t close your mind to another method. We can always learn from others. I like Poul Jorgenson’s quote, “Fly tying is a school from which no one ever graduates.” I was exposed to something new to me, and rather than face it closed-minded, I learned from the experience. Learning new methods is sometimes hard for me to do. Fly tiers can be like that occasionally, dare I say a little stubborn? Set in our ways? Whatever, it makes us what we are.

In the last four days I have tied over 24 different Stevens patterns, and made wings for more than 30 more streamers, some are repeat patterns already tied, and others are for patterns that I have never previously dressed. Last night I made six sets of Gray Ghost wings for #2 & #4 Mustad 3665A’s; these were ordered by my customer Rich, who bought that $15 Gray Ghost tied on the antique Edgar Sealey 1797J Hook and allowed his wofe to fish it in the Adirondacks! Ha! See the post on my blog of their Adirondack fishing success. https://donbastianwetflies.wordpress.com/2011/07/20/wet-fly-fishing-testimonial/

Consider the General MacArthur and Green Beauty, for example – the last time I tied these particular patterns was in 1987. I remember that because it was October of that year when, for the Pennsylvania State Council of Trout Unlimited Annual Banquet & Seminars that was held in my hometown of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, I presented my first-ever slide program. It was a presentation (albeit abbreviated) on New England Style streamer flies. I had tied flies from Joseph Bates book, Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing, such as the Green Beauty, Nine-Three, Bolshevik, Black Ghost, Ballou Special, and Colonel Bates, and included them in my program.

Completed wing assemblies by Don Bastian for Carrie Steven’s streamer patterns; some are: Gray Ghost, Jitterbug, Merry Widow, Davis Special, General MacArthur, Don’s Special, Embden Fancy, Colonel Fuller, Larry, Shang’s Special, Golden Witch, Green Beauty, Governor…I typed it from memory, so the list is incomplete as to what I actually here. Most were sized for Gaelic Supreme size #1 8x long Martinek / Stevens Rangeley Style Streamer Hooks., though some of them, are smaller. There’s a couple General MacArthur and America wings here that are matched for 6x long Mustad 3665A hooks. I literally tied ’em and tossed ’em, well, rather gently, laid them here. They are right under the jaws of my Regal Stainless Steel C-clamp vise. This was not a set up shot.

Many of these patterns are new to me – the Jitterbug, Davis Special, White Ghost, Governor, Allie’s Special, Allie’s Favorite, Charles E. Wheeler, Don’s Special, Embden Fancy…they are beautiful, more so in real life when you tie one yourself than in photos. This is a renewal of this aspect of fly tying interest for me.
It’s a good thing I have a bunch of the necessary materials previously accumulated in my cache of tying stuff. The reality is that many Carrie Stevens patterns were new to everyone. Prior to the release of Hilyard’s book in 2000 and Forgotten Flies in 1999, few people were aware of the extentsive number of patterns Carrie Stevens actually created.
I took these photos quick, the one of the assemblies was hand-held, and I only took a few shots. I present them here exactly as the flies & wings lie on my tying table. (Which is extremely cluttered). And by the way, none of the heads are finished yet with the matched banding of colors, which I will do before I consider them complete. My explanation on that is in the Streamer Four-Packs topic. https://donbastianwetflies.wordpress.com/2011/07/26/streamer-four-packs/

Some new photos added below on August 4, 2011:

Assembled wings for the Jenny Lind; note the slight variation of the shade of blue. Many of the Carrie Stevens original flies reveal differences of colors. Like fly tiers of today she was limited on occasion to availability of feathers and different dye lots. It is not always possible to obtain the same color of feathers. These wings were selected from two different capes, both labeled as Silver Doctor Blue; one set from a neck, the other from a saddle. I think either shade is acceptable; Carrie’s original Jenny Lind streamers tend toward a light, pale blue. The hooks are Mustad 3665A (traditional) the big one is a size #2. These wings were made for Nos. 6 and 8.

Canary at top, dressed on a Gaelic Supreme Mike Martinek Carrie Stevens Rangeley Style Streamer Hook – size #1 8x long. Below are three Jungle Queen Streamers dressed on the same hook, a smaller size #6 – 8x long. Tied by Don Bastian.

Pink Lady (top) and Don’s Delight, both dressed on Gaelic Supreme Mike Martinek / Carrie Stevens Rangeley Style streamer hooks, size #1 – 8x long. Tied by Don Bastian.

Canary and Davis Special, dressed on Gaelic Supreme Hooks – size #1 – 8x long. The shoulder is a little short on the Davis Special; this example is my first dressing of this particular pattern. Tied by Don Bastian.

Victory – size #2 – 8x long, tied by Don Bastian.

I tied this Carrie Stevens Streamer Pattern up last night – the Victory. After a final (third) coat of head cement this morning it’s done. I’m getting it in today’s mail to Ted Patlen of New Jersey; Ted always does the framing of the flies every year for the raffle plate of flies for the International Fly Tying Symposium this November in Somerset, New Jersey. This year the Symposium is on November 19th and 20th. This is my donation fly for this year’s Celebrity Tier’s Fly Plate:

The Victory:

Thread: Red #56 or white #1 Danville Flymaster 6/0.

Hook: Gaelic Supreme Martinek / Stevens Rangeley Style Streamer Hook

Tag: Flat silver tinsel

Tail: Red hackle fibers

Rib: Flat silver tinsel

Body: Red floss

Belly: White bucktail

Hackle: Red

Wing: Two light blue hackles flanked by two gray hackles

Cheeks: Jungle cock

Head: Red, white, and blue, Danville 6/0 Flymaster thread (note: Danville no longer makes a blue thread in Flymaster 6/0)

The wing was cemented in my “new” fashion, (new for me anyway).  This was one of the four patriotic-themed streamer patterns that Carrie created in the 1940’s.

The Pirate Streamer, another Carrie Stevens creation, tied by Don Bastian on Size #1 Gaelic Supreme Streamer Hook.

Fish Hooks and Friends…

Life often gives us surprises, some huge and significant, others not so much, but serendipitous nonetheless.

Last weekend at the Somerset, New Jersey, Fly Fishing Show, a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time stopped by my table. I was busy doing a demo, and as I tied a fly, I saw him and thought he looked familiar…but no bells rang if you know what I mean. He waited until I was finished, and then stepped forward, extended his hand and said, “Hi Don, Glenn Peckel.” We originally met eleven years ago. I was pleasantly surprised. He’s from NJ and was a member of the Ray Bergman TU Chapter. We had quite a long time together, talking, very enjoyable.

Funny, weird, almost scary thing about this – I was thinking of Glenn and wondering about him just a day earlier that week…why he popped into my head after years of not even a passing thought of him, I’ll never know. Perhaps the impetus to think of Glenn occurred as I crossed the Tappan Zee Bridge into Nyack, New York; Ray Bergman’s home town, and I knew Glenn lived nearby.  Suddenly his name was in my mind, and I merely thought about the fact that I had not heard from or about him for many years. This was a little puzzling, but I have had it happen before. This is the part of the story that I needed to tell in order to tell the rest of the story. As I crossed the bridge and drove south on I-87, the CD player thumped playing Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Vicious Cycle – Dead Man Walking, All Funked Up, Jake and other great songs, loud enough to make the windshield-mounted rear-view mirror quiver with each whump of the bass drum, so much so that the cars viewed in the mirror vibrated into a repetitive, rhythmic blur, I wondered about Glenn. How he was doing. If he was still around. Yeah, sometimes I like my music loud…I like many kinds of music but as my friend and fellow fly tier Tom Baltz from Mt. Holly Springs, Pennsylvania, says, “Sometimes I just wanna hear screamin’ guitars.” Me too.

And as I drove on, Glenn slipped from my mind once again, as just another curious passing thought.

As I wandered about the show floor Friday afternoon, about 5:15 PM I ended up at Mike Martinek’s table. Mike asked, “Hey Donnie, you want a beer?”

“Sure,” I replied, and he handed me ten bucks and said, “Go get us a couple Yuengling’s.”

I returned shortly and as Mike and I talked, out of the blue he asked, “Do you know Glenn Peckel?” I was a bit surprised that Mike seemed to snatch that name from thin air.  Long story short, Mike informed me that Glenn had experienced a personal tragedy some years back and it understandably had some impact on him, and that he hadn’t heard from him in quite a while.

So, another long story short, Saturday morning, Glenn was standing at my table, after visiting with Mike, he and I renewed our friendship at the show. Now, getting to the point of this post, Glenn said he had some Edgar Sealey wet fly hooks that he was going to send me. I was delighted, and of course said, “If you do I’ll tie some flies on ’em and send ’em to ya’.” I did the same thing when Mike Martinek sent me some Mustad 36712 Limerick bend hooks.” (Those flies are back a ways here in the archived topics).

The hooks from Glenn arrived on Wednesday this week. They are No. 1733 B size #6 Limerick bend hook, (really nice), the box is in mint condition and full, a hundred hooks. Still wrapped in the wax paper, it has no wrinkles so it was never opened after being packaged at the factory. It is nice to have friends like Glenn.

The Sealey hooks are very close in style to the Mustad 36712, and just a hook-eye length longer than a Mustad 3399 or 3906. So, tending my woodstove fire this morning, sipping coffee, I cracked them open and laid out six hooks. The first fly I tied was the Lachene, Plate No. 5 from Ray Bergman’s Trout. Next I’m going to tie a Jenny Lind, both of those patterns chosen because I was tying them last night for an order. I’ll also do a Ray Bergman and a Dr. Burke. Two others as well, don’t know yet which patterns; maybe the two Fontinalis patterns from Plate No. 10. Yeah, I think I just made up my mind on that…

I just came to the computer to look up Edgar Sealey Company, and what appears below is what I found. I must get back to work, tying, but when I finish the flies for Glenn, I’ll photograph them and post the pictures here.

All I can say about the information below is the fellow in England that provided this info on a UK Forum is “Doc.”

“Edgar Sealey & Sons started as a hook-maker some time around 1930, and are listed in the Kelly’s Directory of 1932 at Brookhill Works, Hewell Road, Redditch.”

“At their peak in the 1950s, they were employing around 100 people, but they were taken over by Dunlop Sports in 1960, and became more of a distributor than manufacturer, though they continued making hooks until they closed the factory and moved to Falmouth in 1981.”

“Some of their machinery was bought by Vince Green, and is still used in the manufacture of Sprite hooks.”

“Their reels were all made by J. W. Young and at one time were Young’s main distributor.”

(This information was posted in response to a fellow in possession of a Sealey fiberglass rod, which concludes the information given. – Don)

“It is likely that your rod was actually made for Sealey by Archie Harrison of Horizon Rods, who, though having retired many years ago, is still making rods and fishing and playing golf twice a week.”

(The words in quotation marks above are from a post by “Doc” on an English fishing forum). Thanks Doc, whoever you are!

The history of many old companies comprises an interesting facet to our hobby. And interesting it is, the bond of friendship enhanced in some cases by nothing more than some gifted fly tying hooks.